This is a proposal to create a community memorial orchard with the Parish Council acting as custodian for the village.
In discussion with local parties the History Society realised that our own local variety of apple tree, the Wareham Russet, was in danger of dying out. This would be a great loss, Weaverham being famous in the past for this variety as well as for damsons, along with Hazel pears at our near neighbours in Acton Bridge. Hence the thought; something must be done!
This thought arose just before we came to the year 2014, a memorial year for obvious reasons to ourselves, but one which could easily be overlooked by future generations.
An orchard could be a meaningful, living and longlasting reminder to be cherished after its creators are long gone.
Although 2014 has special resonance for World War 1, we would wish the memorial aspect to refer to subsequent conflicts in which our people have been involved.
A Community Orchard
This is an idea which has rightly gained much popularity in recent years. There are numerous successful examples in the UK, some close to home. The amenity of native trees, blossom, fruit, under planting of wild flower species and all the associated insect and bird life speak for themselves. A golden opportunity to involve our youth has already been recognised by some of the support detailed below.
Careful planning and planting can mean that once established an orchard should need little more cost of upkeep than existing community open space, so we are confident thatsustainability should not be a concern.
An open meeting at University Primary Academy Weaverham on the 17 December 2013 was very well supported when the ideas outlined in this letter were put forward. Many helpful and practical suggestions were made together with offers of material help . A show of hands indicated broad support and there were no dissenters.
Graham Evans MP has written to the action group giving his support and asking us to meet him. Naturally, we have this in hand.
We are heartened to find that the Department of Communities and Local Government has produced a document entitled “Community Orchards How to guide”. As well as providing invaluable practical help the existence of this guide is a clear endorsement of the concept which we would respectfully ask Weaverham Parish Council to take on board. The guide can be found at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/departmentforcommunitiesandlocalgovernment > Community orchards How to guide.
Given the support referred to above, an action group of eleven individuals from Weaverham has been formed and we are in the process of preparing a constitution with a view to charity registration.
A place for the orchard
Our main criteria/preferences are; a central site in the village, ease of access and visibility from the local surroundings. Such sites are more likely to be appreciated by all ages in the community and consequently less subject to unwanted attention.
If the orchard is to fulfil its purpose for future generations a site needs to be found that cannot be easily appropriated for commercial reasons so somewhere that already belongs to the community is desirable. Equally, the establishment of a community orchard would confer some protection from unwelcome types of use or development.
Given the considerations above the action group’s original preferred site was the green playing field in Russet Road, adjacent to the swimming pool and the children’s playground. We understood that this site was not heavily used at present and alternative play space is readily available on the nearby Lake House field. This site is close to the community facilities which are already well supported by the village. We believed that an orchard would be a valuable addition to that cluster of community facilities.
The action group requested that the Parish Council grant permission for the development of an orchard on this site, with ownership being retained by the Parish Council on behalf of the people of Weaverham.
However the Parish Council expressed the view that Weaverham is short of play areas, and that the part of Russett road playing field proposed for the orchard are used, informally, for cricket in the summer.
The following alternatives are being investigated:
- Lakehouse Field
- Lime Avenue ( in front of shops )
- Lime Avenue / Elm Rd / Hazel Drive
- West Rd ( Nook Farm )
- Gorstage Lane
- Larch Close ( Rear of St Johns Ambulance )
- Former NPL land, south side of Northwich Rd, adjacent to Oak Meadow.
- Top end of Wallerscote Rd, backing on to houses in Keepers lane