RESIDENTS are being invited to create a new community orchard in Riverside that aims to help people understand the past, and provide a fruitful future.

Environmental group Transition Town Redditch is working with community groups, schools and Redditch Council, to establish a collection of fruit trees on a site at Forge Mill Needle Museum and Bordesley Abbey Visitor Centre, near to a long forgotten orchard of the past.

Jo-Ann Gloger, keeper of collections at Forge Mill, recently discovered that there used to be an orchard near the Gatehouse Chapel of St Stephen at Bordesley Abbey.

She said: “We’ve found a mention of the ‘Abbey Orchard’ dating back to 1645 so it seems fitting for the abbey site to bear fruit for another generation. It’s also an extra dimension to the rich historical interpretation that we aim to achieve at the museum.”

With funding from the community fund of The Co-operative Society, Transition Town Redditch is hoping to create a lasting community project that will provide people with apples, pears, plums, cherries and damsons for years to come.

Many of the trees chosen are locally distinct varieties from Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, including the Warwickshire Drooper plums and Pitmaston Duchess pears.

Alistair Waugh, from Transition Town Redditch, said: "There's frequent uncertainty about the cost of food and how it is produced. Fruit for example, can often be a costly part of our shopping and, more often than not, has travelled huge distances to get to us.

"Yet fresh fruit is so important, and it's not that long since we celebrated the fruit heritage of our neighbours in the Vale of Evesham.

"Transition Town Redditch is interested in the ways our town can move towards a future where we produce food locally, supporting each other and sharing skills and ideas."

Redditch Councillor Phil Mould, responsible for leisure, added: “We’re delighted to work with Transition Town Redditch to enable the restoration of the traditional orchard near Bordesley Abbey.

"Planting fruit trees, particularly local varieties, is always a real boon and I’m sure they will be enjoyed by the community.”

Members of the public are encouraged to come along to help with tree planting on Sunday, March 2 from 10.30am.

Tools will be provided and as the ground is muddy appropriate clothes and footwear should be worn.