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Date: 29 February 2020

Time: 06:56

Volunteers needed for orchard Big Tree Plant

Volunteers needed for orchard Big Tree Plant

Story posted/last updated: 18 February 2015

Green-fingered volunteers are being sought to give a fledgling orchard at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) a major boost as part of the Big Tree Plant.

QEHB's Community Orchard and Gardens is to benefit from 120 new apple, pear, plum, damson and cherry trees donated by charity partners.

Members of the local community and from across the city are being asked to help plant them in the hospital grounds on Saturday February 21 and Sunday February 22.

The orchard and gardens are the brainchild of Antony Cobley, Senior HR Manager and Equality and Diversity Lead at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) and are being developed with the help of The Urban Orchard Project, Helping Britain Blossom and The Trust Conservation Volunteers.

It will bring together a variety of community groups and organisations to take ownership of unused areas on the QEHB site to improve the land for all. By using the land in more creative and sustainable ways, the orchard will not only benefit staff and patients but the wider community.

“The idea is to give people somewhere to get away from it all for a few minutes of peace and quiet, whether they are staff or patients,” said Antony. “It will be a natural area where they can escape the hospital.

 “I’ve purposefully asked for British fruit varieties and particularly ones which are from the Midlands,” he added.

Volunteers have already planted more than 1,000 trees on the hospital site and this new orchard will complement a number of health and wellbeing initiatives already in place or planned, such as a monthly Farmer’s Market, vegetable plots and a woodland walk.

“The produce will be used to help people in the local area, to teach them how to grow, tend, cook and prepare the food,” he said. “We are not looking to sell it or make a profit for the Trust; it will all be donated to benefit the community.

“It’s a long-term project. It will be four or five years before we start cropping decent amounts of fruit, but the beauty of it is that a well-managed orchard will then go on for decades.”

Anyone wishing to help with the planting should contact Helping Britain Blossom regional project manager for Birmingham, Rob Tilling.

Email: rob@theurbanorchardproject.org

Planting will take place from 10:30 each day. Stout footwear and gloves are recommended and volunteers must be fit enough to dig and plant.

Launched in 2010 the Big Tree Plant has seen more than one million trees planted in cities and towns in over 3,300 sites across England by community groups.

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