Milton Country Park has an orchard on the southern edge of the site which was planted with the help of the Friends of MCP in 2006. Since this time there has been a real development in the understanding of the importance of orchard habitats. In 2007 traditionally planted orchards were made a priority habitat on the UK's biodiversity action plan and there has been a growing trend towards protecting the remaining orchards we have and establishing new orchards managed by community volunteers.
In 2014 the Park hosted its first Autumn Festival, featuring an apple pressing using apples gathered around the site, and its popularity helped create an interest in joining the growing local network of community orchard projects. A group was formed and funds raised from Cambridge Sports Lakes Trust, Friends of MCP, South Cambs District Council and a grant from Cambs and Peterborough Biodiversity Group.
Thanks to the generous contributions of these groups and our volunteers the MCP Orchard Project has been able to finance the planting of nineteen new local heritage trees, establish a wildflower area in the mound beneath the bench, and enclose the orchard site to make it a clear, defined space for community use and educational purposes. This also means we can protect new planting and improve the biodiversity within the site.
The orchard is now a lovely space with a particular emphasis on encouraging wildlife. The trees are thriving, there are wild flowers and a bee hive and plans to further enhance the area. For 2016 we are looking at completing the small hedgerow within the fence and adding a bird feeding area.
The MCP Orchard Project is managed by volunteers in collaboration with the Cambridge Sports Lake Trust. We are always looking for volunteers to help maintain and plant in the orchard. Work parties are generally held once a month (usually the first Sunday at 10.30am) and can involve anything from general maintenance, weeding and mulching, planting and pruning workshops to fun picnics, species monitoring and apple pressing. It's a friendly group, open to all, with no experience necessary (and there's always biscuits!).
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It is thanks to the generous donations of local groups, businesses and volunteers that we will be able to create and maintain this lovely space. If you are a business or an individual who would like to make a donation to the orchard or be more involved you could for example...
- Use the orchard space for an educational purpose, a species count or to showcase public art.
- Finance or provide a much needed item for example: benches, signage, bird boxes or animal houses.
- Provide a working party of volunteers as part of a company community programme.
For these or any other ideas you might have please also get in touch with Sarah at: email@example.com It is also possible to make a financial contribution to the orchard by donating using the country Park's Just Giving page. Just be sure to mark your donation as for the purposes of the orchard.
We would like to thank the following groups, businesses and individuals for their generous contributions to the orchard project...
Alison Hullyer - talented local artist for designing our lovely logo.
Rowan Humberstone - for turning Alison's logo into some beautiful wooden signs.
Cambridge Building Society - for the generous donation of two picnic benches.
And all of you who have been in touch and volunteered your time and expertise.