Nearly 150 people including school children attended the official opening of the Wittenhams Community Orchard by the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Sarah Taylor on Thursday afternoon 23rd March.
Mrs Taylor unveiled the wooden notice board at the entrance to the orchard at the back of Fieldside and wished the project success. She said: “The orchard is a valuable community project and I hope villagers and supporters will have many happy years looking after the trees, eating the apples and drinking the juice and cider.”
The orchard contains 80 fruit and nut trees and is part of the Sylva Wood Centre. An apiary is being developed to help the trees stay fruitful. Villagers and visitors are being encouraged to support the project by becoming an Orchard CropSharer who buy a tree and take a share of the annual harvest.
Subscriptions will also support the care of the orchard, running education sessions for children and adults. The Sylva Foundation says it hopes the orchard will be a peaceful and productive place cared for by Sylva and CropSharees which everyone in the community can enjoy.
The chief executive of the Foundation Dr Gabriel Hemery paid tribute to the trustees, supporters and volunteers. He said the Post Code Lottery and the NatureSave Trust were also important contributors.
He said: “Many people and organisations have helped us establish the orchard but more help is needed to maintain the orchard and establishing a new forest. It is all about engaging the community with trees which are vital for the future health and well-being of the country.”
Educating young people in the importance of trees is seen as an indispensable role in the work of the Sylva Foundation. Pupils and staff from Long Wittenham Primary school were special guests for the opening ceremony. Afterwards all the children were given apples and spent the afternoon among the trees in the orchard.
Details on how to become a Wittenhams Community Orchard CropSharer here: www.sylva.org.uk/orchard