Hunstanton pupils help community orchard project grow

Schoolchildren enjoyed getting their hands dirty as they planted hundreds of wildflower plugs at the newly-created community orchard in Hunstanton.

The sound of laughter echoed around the orchard as around 50 pupils from Redgate Primary and Hunstanton Infant schools planted 1,200 plugs last Thursday, of which there were 30 different varieties of wildflower.

It came after 100 volunteers gathered at the site, next to the town's community centre, last month to plant 62 fruit trees and officially launch the project.

Kate Dunbar, who has led the project on behalf of Hunstanton Town Council, thanked the schoolchildren for their help in the latest chapter of the community project.

She said: 'They did really well and seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves getting all muddy.

'The wildflower plugs are there in order to attract all sorts of beneficial insects that pray on less beneficial insects like green fly. This will then attract birds to the orchard and the birds will help to keep down the number of caterpillars.

'We are managing this orchard organically so we need the wildlife here to stop us having to use sprays.

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She added: 'The orchard will become a place of beauty and tranquillity, a wonderful resource for education and a hub for the production of apple pies, jams, juices and chutneys.'

The orchard's fruit trees range from apple, pear and cherry to apricot, quince and medlar – with the Blatchford apple first grown in the town by nuseryman Fred Chilvers taking pride of place.

Families, community groups and businesses have all sponsored the trees which are now being cared for by the Friends of Hunstanton Community Orchard. It is hoped a further 60 trees will be planted next year.

Norfolk Wildlife Trust experts have also surveyed the site and found 46 species but it is hoped the orchard will be able to support more than 1,500 species once more established.

Hunstanton mayor Carol Bower has also said she hopes the town will be able to celebrate major events at the orchard in the future.

Nest boxes provided by the RSPB have already been positioned on sycamore trees around the site, just off Avenue Road, and the Woodland Trust has supplied a fruiting hedge.

There are also picnic tables which have been put in place for families to enjoy spending time in the orchard.

The trees were provided by Reeds Nursery the East of England Apple and Orchard Project, which conserves native varieties. The orchard will be organic and 10pc of fruit will be left each year for wildlife.

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