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Aims and purpose
The Earley Community Orchard was planted in Laurel Park, Lower Earley, in February 2016. The aims are to provide an orchard that is available to all members of the Earley community, and to show local children the process of producing fruit. All the trees were sponsored and planted by local people. The ground was prepared by local volunteers and students, and over 50 people turned up in pouring rain to plant the trees.

The trees
The varieties were chosen for their quality, the range of cropping season, and the fact that you can’t find them in the supermarkets. There were originally 13 apples, 2 pears, a plum, a gage, a damson, a mulberry and a walnut. They were supplied by R.V.Roger of Pickering, Yorkshire, as one-year-old bare-root maidens.

Looking after the trees
Fruit trees should not be allowed to set fruit in their first year, so it will be a few years before any harvesting can take place – longer in the case of the mulberry and the walnut. Current policy is to avoid cutting the grass until the trees are established, except for a strip along the path, to protect them from accidental damage by enthusiastic young cyclists!

The orchard is for the whole community and is permanently open to the public. So … please be restrained in your harvesting, leaving plenty for others.

Look out for special events based around the orchard, such as Apple Days and morris dancing. Keep an eye on the website for details.