For Immediate Release: New Community Orchard Planted in Trowbridge for the Benefit of Wildlife and People

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Shaw Trust are working together as part of a new collaboration to tackle climate change, restore nature and help communities in Wiltshire. The collaboration was launched recently with the creation of Sloegrove Orchard at Green Lane Wood nature reserve in Trowbridge, which was generously funded by Shaw Trust.

A planting event was held to create the new community orchard at the end of January. Led by Green Lane Wood reserve manager, Matt Callaway, staff from both Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Shaw Trust, and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust volunteers from the local community enjoyed a superb day preparing the ground and planting fruit trees.

Sixty trees were planted to create the community orchard to mark the 60th anniversary of Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and the 40th anniversary of Shaw Trust. The purpose of the new orchard is not only to provide habitat for wildlife but also to improve community wellbeing.

Once the trees mature, the fruit will ripen from each summer onwards. People from the local community are encouraged to help themselves and pick fresh fruit to take home and share amongst friends and family. Trees that have been planted include Wiltshire varieties of apple such as Roundway Bonham Magnum and Bedwyn Beauty, and other fruit trees include plum, damson, pear, quince and medlar. Some apple trees are dwarf varieties whereas more vigorous ones could grow up to 5m tall, providing a variety of habitat.

Sloegrove Orchard will provide an amazing haven for wildlife once established. Rare Bechstein’s bats, which live in the neighbouring Green Lane Wood, forage on the insects that feed on rotting fruit, so the local colonies will have more to eat once the trees begin to bear fruit. Birds will also be able to feast on the fruit and insects. As the orchard ages, cracks and crevices will also develop within the trees, providing more roosts for bats.

Mark Earl, Chief People Officer at Shaw Trust, who took part in the planting event, said:

“We’re delighted to be celebrating our past by coming together to plant a better future for communities in our founding county of Wiltshire. With more than 3,000 people working at Shaw Trust, and over 300,000 supported by our services, we rely on huge amounts of energy to power our virtual and physical spaces. To balance this, we are thrilled to be working with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust to celebrate a local centenary.

Planting trees is a long-recognised way for organisations to offset their carbon. But for us, it is so much more. Committed to leaving places in better health than we find them, this collaboration will enable us to pilot and scale up clinically-supported nature-based health and wellbeing programmes and give us a learning space where we can share conservation skills. Over the next two years, we aim to support 200 participants and 50 colleagues through learning, health and wellbeing, and volunteering through the partnership. This is in addition to the investment in a greener future for us all.”

James Ravine, Head of Fundraising, Marketing & Communications at Wiltshire Wildlife Trust, said:

“By both improving a space for nature and benefiting local communities, the planting of the community orchard at Green Lane Wood is a perfect way to launch our exciting new venture with Shaw Trust. The collaboration between Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and Shaw Trust will help to achieve a more sustainable future for people and wildlife in Wiltshire and beyond. Together, we will enhance habitat, sequester carbon and create social value for all the people of Wiltshire and Swindon, as well as Shaw Trust participants and staff. The collaboration aligns with Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s new strategy, which includes enabling one in four people to take action for nature and leading the push towards 30% of land managed for nature by 2030, as well as helping increase the Trust’s net carbon positive position”.

Shaw Trust is committed to active investment in conservation projects to help nature thrive and meet its carbon offsetting targets, with a carbon net zero target date of 2030, and social value creation targets. During the long-term collaboration, Shaw Trust will invest in Wiltshire Wildlife Trust’s conservation projects such as tree and hedgerow planting at the Trust’s nature reserves. The two charities will also work together in learning and health and wellbeing, sharing their expertise in social value creation to support people in the local community.