We are grateful to the Stewart Village Hall Trustees for their invitation to establish the orchard on their land in the heart of the village. The orchard is bordered on two sides by mature hedgerows of native species such as hawthorn, buckthorn, wild plum, rose and cherry. The east and south sides of the orchard are open.
We have a thriving bee population in the village and blossom from the trees in the orchard would provide food for the bees and, with luck, pollination for fruit. Planting the orchard in an area surrounded by mature hedges and wild fruit trees creates the perfect combination required for a good harvest.
Traditional orchards were once rich habitats for wild flowers, birds and insects. Trees were left to mature with plenty of old dead wood for nesting lesser spotted woodpeckers and stag beetles, both now threatened species. These orchards were grazed by sheep creating the perfect conditions for wild flower meadows beneath the trees. The windfalls in autumn would feed birds such as mistle thrush and blackbird. Munctjac, Roe deer and fox are also seen in the orchards.
The idea of a village orchard is that there is access for all. It isn't fenced so children are able to play amongst the trees and even scrump the apples. This public space also provides an outdoor classroom for the school where children can learn more about the wildlife and get involved with looking after the trees throughout the year.