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Page last updated at 09:34 GMT, Friday, 23 April 2010 10:34 UK
Community orchard to be planted at school in Witham
Five traditional Essex varieties of apple will be grown at the new orchard

A 'community orchard' is to be created on a redundant piece of land next to Southview Special School in Witham.

Seventeen fruit trees will be planted, including apple varieties Braintree Seedling, Topaz and Seabrook's Red.

Created by Braintree District Council's landscape services team, it will also be available for use by other schools and the wider community in the town.

The space will also have a wildflower meadow, dipping pond and vegetable garden for use by the school.

In total, the orchard will have five varieties of apple varieties and one type of pear.

Landscape and Community assistant Amanda Turburville told BBC Essex the former council owned allotment site, had become overgrown and been the victim of anti-social behaviour.

She added the idea of a 'community' orchard was not new to the district.

"Old orchards are our priority habitat, because of their serious decline," Amanda said.

"So it gives us an ideal opportunity to create a new type of habitat, but also to allow the community to use it.

"That means they have ownership of the area and they'll reap the benefits of it, because they can eat the fruit or sell the fruit or whatever they want to do with it."

The hope is that the orchard will become an important space for Witham.

"Although Southview Special School will be leasing the site from Braintree Council and will be the primary users, it also is very much about including the wider community," said Amanda.

"There are other schools in the area who have been invited to get involved with the project

"We're hoping that in the future we'll be able to set up a local community group that would be able to come in and regularly use the orchard," she added.

The official planting of the new orchard will take place at the Conrad Road site at 10.30am on Tuesday, 27 April.

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