Lynchmere community orchard is bearing fruit

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A new community orchard planted by an army of volunteers at Lynchmere has been officially opened.

The orchard has been planted on part of the fields left to the Lynchmere Society by Peter Burkitt and it was opened during a barbecue held to thank those who had helped with the project, by Margaret Paren, chairman of the South Downs National Park.

The orchard has been prepared, fenced and planted by volunteers over the past few months and includes varieties of apples, crab apples, plums, quince and a walnut with historic or local significance including Katy, Egremonts Russet, Charles Ross and Lane’s Prince Albert.

The event was attended by all the volunteers who have worked on the commons or helped in other ways throughout the year and guests who share the aims of the Lynchmere Society.

During the afternoon many had helped prepare the site and tidy up both the orchard, strimming around the new trees, and tidying the barn in case of need for shelter.

Partners in the venture include the South Downs National Park Authority, the People’s Trust for Endangered Species, Chichester District Council and individual donors whose names are recorded on a board at the orchard.

“The orchard lies in a strip of one of the fields next to Mare Barn, which came to the society just over a year ago from the estate of Peter Burkitt,” said Michael Shaw, chairman of Lynchmere Society.

“Peter was keen to preserve the land for the community in which he had lived, and we will continue to work hard to maintain and protect this area for the enjoyment of all.”

Lynchmere Society has community action at its heart. In 1997, a successful appeal was launched to buy 307 acres of common land, funded by donations from residents and organisations and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The area is now registered as a Local Nature Reserve and the society is working to restore the lowland heath habitat and encourage a greater diversity of species including Dartford warblers and nightjars. It is popular with local walkers and the footpaths are being improved to encourage greater use by wheelchair-users.

The Lynchmere Society has a core team of about 40 volunteers and provides a comprehensive training programme in conservation and woodland management including tree felling, coppicing and hedging. It also runs a number of events including social events and educational talks.