Community orchard to be planted at Worthing's Cissbury Fields
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Following a successful grant application by Worthing Borough Council from the South Downs National Park Trust, 35 local variety apple and pear trees will be planted at one of the site’s six fields to create an orchard where locals can pick free fruit and connect with nature.
Residents will also be given the chance to taste and vote on the varieties of pear and apple trees they would like planted at Findon Valley Market on Sunday, October 29.
The introduction of a community orchard forms part of the council’s management plan to renature the site, which has been designed in close partnership with the local community, ecologists and nature groups.
Located at the foot of Cissbury Ring, the fields were previously farmed by a tenant, but were reclaimed by the council in 2021 in a mission to support the environment by restoring its chalk grassland.
It’s hoped the community orchard will have a large fenced-off zone with glade-style tree planting, mown and wild areas, as well as natural seating logs to create a secluded picnic area at the entrance to the South Downs.
Wide pathways will remain on the margins of the field to help to ensure walkers can continue accessing the site. Handmade wooden signage will also be created for the orchard entrance and to label each tree species.
Councillor Vicki Wells, Worthing’s cabinet member for the environment, said: “It’s amazing news that we’ve been able to secure this grant from the South Downs National Park Trust to create the community orchard.
“Our renaturing project at Cissbury Fields is a hugely exciting one for the whole community and is a great chance for us to work together to help nature. I really look forward to seeing the rest of the management plan come into effect over the next few years.”
There will be plenty of opportunities for locals to get involved with the community orchard, including planting, maintenance and other trained roles to help support the management of the site.