Buchan Country Park Orchard Project
You may not realise that as you drive into Buchan Country Park on the right-hand side of the entrance drive is an old orchard. It has been there for a long time but is currently in a state of neglect and the Rangers together with the Friends of Buchan Country Park are aiming to restore it back to full health!
Why restore the orchard?
Orchards are very important! Traditionally managed orchards are becoming increasingly rare and here are just some of the reasons why restoring our one will be beneficial:
- History & Culture – The orchard is a part of Buchan Country Park’s history. There are local varieties of apple planted in there including ‘Crawley Beauty’ and part of the project is to plant more varieties that stem from the Crawley area.
- Wildlife – Orchards are recognised as vital refuges for a wide array of wildlife as well as significant to the local character of our landscapes. They contain a mosaic of habitats, including scrub, grassland, hedgerows and of course, fruit trees of varying ages. The trees don’t just provide fruit for animals to feed on, dead and decaying wood is an important habitat for invertebrates such as beetles. Part of Buchan Country Park is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) for the dragonfly and damselfly assemblages in and around the waters. With the stream that flows from Douster Pond running close by to the orchard, the restoration project will also improve the habitat for these beautiful creatures too.
- Education – It is our aim to provide informal education through the Countryside Services Events Program (see our website). We currently run an annual ‘All about Apples’ event with the Friends of Buchan Country Park and it would be fantastic to use the fruit from our own orchard in the apple pressing activities.
What are you going to do?
The restoration of the orchard involves serval pieces of work:
- Pruning – Together with the Brighton Permaculture Trust we are going to prune the existing trees to improve their health and therefore boost their yield.
- Planting – we have ordered some local variety apple trees (see posters) to be planted to compliment the apple trees already in the orchard. These trees are different varieties to the ones currently residing in the orchard and will increase the biodiversity and help pollinate one another.
- Tree Surgery – In order to thrive fruit trees need a lot of sunlight. At the moment the orchard is heavily shaded by some large trees and as a consequence the trees are unhealthy and not producing much fruit. We will be selectively thinning the woodland south of the orchard to allow sunlight to reach the trees and the wildflowers underneath. Don’t worry though, the trees that are to be cut will grow back and we are going to introduce a coppicing cycle in order to manage the woodland better for wildlife.
- Other Habitats – It doesn’t just stop at fruit trees! We are going to manage the ground layer as a wildflower meadow and the boundary of the orchard is to be planted with native hedgerow species. These habitats will work beautifully alongside the orchard with the wildflower meadow providing nectar sources for all sorts of invertebrates including honeybees and butterflies and the hedgerow will provide shelter, food sources and nesting places for birds and small mammals.
Who’s paying for this?
This project is part funded by a community grant obtained by the Friends of Buchan Country Park and the rest of the funding comes from money raised at events including donations. Every cup of tea, chocolate bar or bacon sarnie puts money into improving Buchan Country Park for you and for all the wildlife that lives here. Thank you to all that have contributed.
Our thanks also go out to the local Squires Garden Centre in Crawley who have been kind enough to donate supplies, including compost, tree stakes and tree ties, all of which will be essential in the project.