Community groups can create their own free fruit orchards

Schools, faith and community groups, parish and borough councils across Lancashire can apply for up to 25 trees from a range of species, including apple, pear, damson, plum, cherry and heritage trees, with some varieties able to bear fruit from the very first year.

Applications, which are open now, will be awarded on a first-come first-served basis until the funding runs out.

Councillor Carole Haythornthwaite, lead member for Economic Development and Environment at the county council said:

"It's very exciting for us to see so much action taking place to rejuvenate Lancashire's woodlands.

"We are urging groups and schools to take up this offer as it could make a real difference in the heart of communities, during what is a difficult time financially for some families.

"The fruit trees especially could be a real bonus with people quite literally seeing the fruit of their labour going home with them. You can pick from a mix of varieties, including ones that bear fruit at different times of the year, from late spring to October."

The successful grant of £150,000 from the DEFRA Coronation Living Heritage Fund, to mark the Coronation of King Charles III, will also support the planting of several fast-growing community micro-woods, called Miyawaki woods.

Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki developed a special tree-planting technique that involves enhancing the soil and planting trees closer together, resulting in faster growth than traditional techniques.

Councillor Carole Haythornthwaite added:

"The amazing way that these trees are planted means that they can grow to over 6ft in just 18months, helping the environment by absorbing carbon more quickly.

"The unique soil preparation and compact style of planting means that we can speed up the trees' growth."

This is not the only work recently completed to improve woodlands across Lancashire.

500 small saplings were recently been planted along the A59 as well as 97 trees next to roads across the county, to replace trees felled by Ash dieback in 2014. This was funded by an £83,692 grant from the the Local Authority Treescapes Fund.

A £61,237 grant from the Urban Tree Challenge Fund also recently funded 90 larger trees in urban greenspaces and school grounds in both Lancashire and Blackburn with Darwen.

To apply for one of the grants, go to Lancashire Community Orchard Grant - Lancashire County Council

Notes to editors

Notes to Editors:  The Treescapes team has been funded by the DEFRA Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund to work with public, private, and voluntary sector partners across Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpoll to deliver an ambitious programme to plant 170 hectares of rural woodland and 30,000 urban and peri-urban trees by 2025. 

Funding has been secured from grants made available by DEFRA and the Forestry.

Japanese botanist Akira Miyawaki found a method to plant a fully realized forest in 20 to 30 years, while conventional methods take 200 to 300 years. Miyawaki found that trees planted closer together using intensive soil preparation techniques naturally grew much faster than trees planted using more traditional methods. . The method has been tested over the years and has shown the resulting forest can be 30 times denser, with plant growth 10 times faster – thereby absorbing carbon faster, and can have 20 times increased biodiversity over a traditional newly planted woodland (Miyawaki 1988, Miyawaki 1999, Ranjan et al 2016, Sivabalan et al 2021).