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Growing a sense of community - Ticknall Community Orchard

“It's a testament to what can be achieved when we come together with a shared vision and a desire to create something beautiful and meaningful for our community. I'm proud to say that with the help of the National Forest Company, we were able to turn the idea of a Community Orchard into a reality.”

12 Feb 2024

That’s the view of Paul Colleyshaw, Ticknall Parish Council Chairman, who was the driving force behind planting a community orchard in the village.

Reflecting on the journey from dream to reality, Paul takes us back to November 2021 when the seeds of the idea were first sown. "Our discussions around celebrating the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022 and her desire to create a Green Canopy, sparked the thought of creating a green space in our own village," he explains. "We wanted to contribute to the Queen's goal and the idea of a community orchard resonated with many villagers."

The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) was a unique nationwide tree planting initiative created to mark Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. Over the course of two tree planting seasons, the QGC created a living legacy of more than three million trees planted across the nation as a lasting tribute to Queen Elizabeth’s reign.

“As our village lacked common land, finding suitable sites for the community orchard was a priority. After careful consideration, it was determined that Archway Field, located centrally in the village with good accessibility, was the most appropriate location. The landowners, the National Trust at Calke Abbey, and the tenant of the land were approached, and they readily agreed to support the project,” Paul explained.

With the support now secured, a group of around a dozen villagers came together to discuss their vision for the orchard and to transform the dream into something tangible. With assistance from the Head Gardener at Calke Abbey, a project plan was developed along with a corresponding budget. The Parish Council then approached the National Forest with a grant application, and we were more than happy to support the project.

"The grant allowed us to acquire the necessary land and plant a variety of fruit trees, ensuring that our community will enjoy the fruits of our labour for years to come," Paul added.

Because planting can only be done between November and March, a staged approach was adopted. The first seven trees were planted in March 2022, with the help of National Trust volunteers. Villagers then took on the responsibility of regularly checking the trees' progress and watering them throughout the dry summer of 2022.

In the winter of 2022, a further fourteen trees were planted, bringing the total number of fruit trees in the orchard to 21.

The project has seen contributions from various local groups, further solidifying the sense of community support. "The Ticknall Preservation Society and the Ticknall Bellringers have been instrumental in our efforts," Paul reveals. "They generously provided two benches and an access gate to enhance the orchard, amplifying the sense of community ownership and pride."



The orchard has since become a cherished space within the community, serving as a peaceful retreat where villagers can relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. It also doubles as an events space, hosting various village activities throughout the year.

"It has truly brought our community together," Paul enthuses. "It's a place where people of all ages can come and engage in inter-generational activities, fostering a sense of unity and togetherness."

One event that stands out was the inaugural annual apple pressing day, which took place in September 2022.  More than 30 villagers took part, bringing their own apples to press for everyone to enjoy the freshly made juice. The event also attracted new residents to the village, such as Sue and John Knutton, who said they found the day to be a wonderful experience that helped them feel more connected to the community.

The village volunteer group continues to manage the orchard, watering the trees and ensuring their wellbeing. Plans are being developed to involve the local school in the orchard, fostering a sense of pride and ownership among the younger generation. There are also plans to plant further fruit trees in winter 2023 to complete the orchard.

The community orchard has not only provided a picturesque environment for villagers but also symbolizes the resilience and unity of the community. As Paul puts it, "As the years go by and the fruit trees continue to thrive, Ticknall Community Orchard will serve as a reminder of the power of collaboration, nature's bounty, and the importance of nurturing connections within a community.”


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