National Tree Week
23 November – 1 December 2013
First mounted in 1975 and organised by the Tree Council, National Tree Week is the UK’s largest tree celebration annually launching the start of the winter tree planting season. A link to their webpage can be found here.
This year Dartmoor Tree Surgeons are proud to be helping the fledgling Woodbury Community Orchard with their inaugural plantings (see the poster below), organized as part of the National Tree Week’s week of activities across the UK. I have been providing technical support and advice during the three years it has taken to get to this exciting stage and we will be providing tools and materials as the project progresses. With the generous support of the landowners, Clinton Devon Estates and the assistance of Woodbury Parish Council, the hard work of the orchard group has resulted in them undertaking the first 25 plantings on land close to the cricket field in Town Lane, Woodbury, on Sunday December 1st 2013.
Woodbury, like many Devon villages, once had extensive areas of land given over to orchards, mainly for cider production and these would have been an important part of the local economy and village life. In fact the field that my office window looks out onto was once orchard, as were most of the fields between here and the village. Very little, if any, remain now, though their locations are sometimes commemorated in the names of the housing estates that are now there, such as Orchard Close on Town Lane, Venmore Orchard and Gilbrook Orchard. A few old relic trees do remain dotted here and there throughout the village, though most are now in a fairly decrepit condition. In addition, some large old cider presses do still exist tucked away in various barns and outbuildings within the parish. I believe that at one time Woodbury supplied a significant amount of cider to Exmouth pubs.
Community orchards can be important for environmental, aesthetic, social, cultural and economic reasons – which sounds rather dry but I think most people will agree that a community orchard can only be an asset to the community wherever it is. Common ground is an organization that provides a range of useful information for people wishing to set up community orchards, through its website and several key publications. My personal hope is that I can propagate material from some of the existing ancient trees within the village in the hope of growing them on within the new community orchard, providing a link with the present day and the vanished village landscape of centuries ago.