Monmouth Community Orchard
The Community Orchard idea began when the Transition Monmouth group started a separate Orchard Group in 2009. Members of the Orchard group are not necessarily part of the Transition Group, but they generally share the same aims.
Led by Vivien Mitchell, a group of supporters got together and the first trees were sponsored and planted in October 2009. For the trees to thrive, the volunteers had to control an area thick with nettle, doc, wild turnip, bramble and thistle. It took hard graft to turn this back into grassland on which the trees have a chance to become established.
Before and after in the Orchard area
Haymaking last summer was fun!
The community Orchard (50 trees) is on the Two River Meadow, where the River Wye and the River Monnow meet. The land had been variously a sewage works, agricultural, and abandoned to become heavily overgrown. Monmouthshire County Council is meant to provide some grass cutting and maintenance, but the area has a low priority and it is largely maintained by volunteers who vie for grants to provide picnic-tables and benches ,etc.
The Two River Meadow Group (chaired by former Monmouth mayor Terry Christopher) now includes the Orchard Group. Our combined aim is to allow access to the area, encouraging wildlife while controlling weeds. The contrast between overgrown and maintained areas is deliberate, and is proving popular with people – but also with wildlife. The diversity means that the area has become a feeding hotspot for bats and some birds.
At the request of people using the area, the Orchard Group volunteers also keep the paths through the wild area to the North open for dog walkers and children, and have tried to make access to the riverbank and its views easier. The public’s increased use of the area proves their success, with families, dog walkers, bird watchers and ramblers expressing their gratitude for the Orchard Group’s work in the central belt of the Two River Meadow.
Those interested in wildlife should look out for Sedge Warblers, Reed Buntings, Kingfishers, Garden Warblers, Buzzards, Bats, Otters (early morning only), Stoats, Moles, Shrews, and many common garden birds.