Kingsclere Community Orchard
Kingsclere Community Orchard is a new green space being developed by Kingsclere Parish Council in Longcroft Road, adjacent to the allotments. The land, previously known as the “pony paddocks”, is a small field that was acquired by the Parish Council in 2015 under a section 106 agreement linked to the development of houses in Longcroft Road.
It has been planted with 90 fruit trees, some heritage local varieties, and it is hoped it will be a community asset long into the future. This is very much intended to be a community led and developed project, planted by the community for the benefit of the community. Phase 1 of planting began in Autumn 2017 with the planting of 30 fruit trees funded by the Parish Council. At that time, the Orchard was started with heritage apple and pear varieties being planted. In 2018, a further 40 trees were planted comprising of more apple and pear varieties as well as plum trees. This was in part funded by a grant from Hampshire County Council. In 2019 the final phase of planting was completed, with a further 20 trees being added, mostly made up of damson and greengage trees. This was funded by a grant from Basingstoke and Deane’s developer contributions. All planting has been carried out by members of the Council and local volunteers to whom we express our gratitude.
The Orchard is currently open, and members of the community are encouraged to use it. In time, once the trees have matured, the fruit will be available for the community to use. Now that the planting of the fruit trees is complete, with some space deliberately left for later additions, the focus of the project moves on to the amenity value of the space. The trees are arranged around a central oval of grass which it is hoped can be planned in future to include a picnic area with benches and tables. The Parish Council is also looking to add to the hedgerow with blackberries, raspberries and other soft fruits being planted for the community to use.
The Parish Council is working to improve the nature conservation value of the site. The Orchard is visited by hedgehogs, deer, and a huge number of birds. Orchards themselves are a priority habitat for conservation and biodiversity under the UK’s biodiversity action plan because of the potential they hold to become a home for a wide variety of insects and pollinators.
The Parish Council is aiming to turn the Orchard from a relatively little known space to a much loved community asset.