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Volunteers needed to join Heritage Lottery-funded Orchards East project

Apples on the Sandringham Estate. Picture: Ian Burt

Apples on the Sandringham Estate. Picture: Ian Burt

Volunteers are needed to help survey and protect the special heritage and biodiversity of East Anglia’s orchards as part of a major Lottery-funded project.

The Landscape Group, part of the University of East Anglia’s (UEA’s) School of History, has been awarded £477,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the three-year Orchards East project, which aims to survey and record traditional orchards across the East of England.

While orchards are an integral part of the landscape, the group says they are also a rich – but under-researched – historical record.

Anyone interested in working on the project is invited to the Norfolk launch on November 4 at the Green Britain Centre in Swaffham, itself home to more than 50 varieties of fruit trees, including many old Norfolk varieties, in an orchard dating back more than 200 years.

The event will include an introduction to the Green Britain Centre’s orchard by apple expert Bob Lever, and a presentation on historical orchard research by Tom Williamson, professor of landscape history at UEA and head of the Landscape Group.

Prof Williamson said: “We’re hoping that people will volunteer to work with us on the project to help us discover more about Norfolk’s rich history of fruit cultivation.

“We’ll examine traditional orchards’ environmental and cultural impact by identifying surviving sites, researching the history of fruit growing, surveying wildlife in orchards, as well as restoring important old orchards and creating new community orchards.”

The National Lottery funding extends initiatives already developed by partner organisations, the Suffolk Traditional Orchards Group and the East of England Apples and Orchards Project, across Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridge, Essex and Hertfordshire.

The launch event is free to attend, but booking is necessary. For more details contact gen@orchardseast.org.uk or visit www.orchardseast.org.uk.

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