Following online and face-to-face engagement that took place during September 2021 the Parish Council agreed to approve the planting of Fletchers Field Community Orchard. See the following online engagement used to consult with the local residents of Liphook:
The Liphook area is blessed with several wide, open recreation spaces which have been a particular boon to local residents during the pandemic. Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council are now proposing to provide its residents with a quieter, contemplative and fruitful space in the form of a Community Orchard on an area of parish-owned land at Fletchers Field. They are working with Community Orchard Project South East (that's us!) to explore this idea in more detail and gather residents’ thoughts and ideas about how they might use this very special space.
Six fruit-trees are proposed to be planted during winter 2021 in an area of amenity grassland owned by Bramshott and Liphook Parish Council, adjacent to Fletchers House. Three local heritage apples (such as Bramshott Rectory and Egremont Russet) are to be planted towards the centre of the orchard, with potentially plum trees (Victoria and Golden Drop) in opposite corners and a single medlar tree.
The meadow beneath the orchard is to be managed as a wildflower meadow, to include two footpaths about 1.5m wide cut on a regular basis between the fruit trees. A 2-3m wayleave will be regularly maintained as short grass to ensure the meadow does not fall onto and impede the adjacent footpaths during the growing season. Later on, local-sourced plugs or seeds of native flowering meadow species may be planted (e.g. yellow-rattle and oxeye-daisy).
Meanwhile COPSE CIC set-up Swan Barn 'Support the Wassail' account with the Garden Cider Company (www.thegardencidercompany.co.uk), where the apples picked by local residents are dropped-off and processed into Cider. This will provide a 20% investment in apple juice, that will be given back to Swan Barn Orchard Group for the Wassail in January 2023.
This morning we strimmed around 12 fruit trees and weeded within protective fencing, at Puttenham's Hog's-back Orchard. We found Dogwood and other woody plants colonising extensive areas of the meadow to the detriment of chalk grassland species, as shown in the photos below
In order to control these woody plants, chalk grassland and other unimproved meadows need to either be grazed during spring and autumn periods or cut biannually in early spring and late summer. By cutting or grazing during the growing season this removes the woody biomass, that can otherwise persist in meadows, if cut outside the growing season.
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Gareth is an ecologist interested in conserving traditional orchards and heritage fruit, for people and wildlife.