Pleasley Community Orchard originated from the vision of lay pioneer minister Matt Arnold, after he spent time listening to the stories of his community from times gone by to the present. What he heard was a need for the community to come back together after decades of being affected by politics, deprivation and the perception of being “the forgotten village”. A community orchard seemed a great way to address the issues arising from these needs and help write the next chapter of our village.
Phase Zero – Consultation and Networking
In April 2015, after working with district and county councillors and the local church, a presentation was made to the community . Volunteers were asked to join in helping form a group that would explore the vision and bring it to fruition. The reception from the community was positive, and a group called “The Friends of Pleasley Community Orchard” was formed.
Through networking and consulting with Mansfield District Council’s parks and arboreal officers, and group members, a location was found – a third of an acre of underused grassland, which was at that point a dog walking area. Again the community were consulted regarding its location and a certain amount of excitement began to stir amongst them. With the blessing of the community and MDC, The group were then given permission to plant the orchard in its current location.
Phase One – Initial Planting
A planting design was worked through and funding applications were subsequently made to various bodies in order to buy trees, fencing and signage.
In July 2016 our local school, Farmilo Primary, were told about the orchard and were very supportive, hosting a school-wide logo design competition, the winners of which were announced at the end of the school year.
Construction work began in early Nov 2016 with the erection of a fence to demark the orchard space from the main green space. With the help of local volunteers and the school, 71 fruit trees were subsequently planted, along with 105 fruiting hedgerow trees. An opening ceremony was attended by the chair of Nottinghamshire County Council and the environment portfolio holder for Mansfield District Council.
Phase Two – Interactivity
Further fund raising has successfully been carried out to incorporate an interactive dimension into this space for 2017:
- The addition of two beehives in July will to help pollinate not just the orchard, but the surrounding allotments and farmed fields and will allow us to create a beekeeping group for local residents / school children.
- Thanks to the Greggs Foundation, a number of raised bed planters were recently installed and have been planted up by volunteers and school children with soft-fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers. This project itself allowed woodworking skills from older members of the community to be passed on to younger members and looks set to be the seed of an idea for another community project in the future.
- A path and central hardstanding area were recently installed as part of our working alongside Nottinghamshire County Council’s “Supporting Local Communities” Funding. These will help towards increasing disability access to the orchard as well as providing an area where the community can gather for events such as the orchard wassailing, carols, apple day and maypole dancing with the school.
- Working with St Barnabas Church we were able to gain funding from the Anchor Foundation Trust to provide an outdoor classroom. This provides a sheltered area for events and workshops which the community can attend, and even deliver should they wish to share their skills with others. It will also be somewhere people can gather informally for a coffee, a natter or just to enjoy the tranquillity and beauty of the orchard.
We don’t know what the future of the orchard will be, but we are excited to see how this community resource and the next chapter of our village story develops as a result of it.