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Astral Park Community Orchard

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The seed of an idea for a community orchard was first planted at a South Beds Friends of the Earth meeting in March 2011 and grew to become the Astral Park Community Orchard when the fruit trees were planted in December 2011 with the help of volunteers, of all ages, from the local residents.  This is probably the first orchard to be planted in Leighton Buzzard for generations.

Orchard locationFrancis and William plan their escapeLooks like hard work... The team pause for a photo with the Mayor

The principle aims of Astral Park Community Orchard is to provide an environmental asset that is accessible to the community at all times, revive an interest in fruit growing, conserve local varieties, provide a refuge for wildlife and be a venue for education about the environment, nature and food – and also a nice place to be!

The orchard is located (see the location plan) on scrub land at the end Middleton Way on the edge of Astral Park, adjoining Stanbridge Meadows and was provided by the council.

With funding from the Greensand Trust we were able buy the fruit trees and equipment. The trees were supplied by the Heritage Fruit Tree Company who have been very helpful with advice on planning, planting and orchard maintenance.

Orchard site planWe have planted 14 varieties of fruit trees with overlapping blossoming times, that is more beneficial to bees, gives a longer harvesting period and variety of flavours.

At the entrance from Astral Park there are two Black Worcester pear trees, a historic variety that will grow to be tall prominent feature trees that can live for 300 years!

We have three trees planted in celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 –  two Royal Jubilee apple trees that were grafted from the root stock of an apple variety grown for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and a Jubilee Plum.

Local varieties planted include:-

  • Aylesbury Prune, a damson, that used to be extensively grown in the area for jam making, and the skins apparently used to dye RAF uniforms in WWII and hats in the Luton hat trade.

  • Bedfordshire apple trees include one each of Laxtons Rearguard, Laxtons Fortune, Laxtons Superb, Laxtons Epicure and Court of Wick providing a variety of apple flavours.

  • Beauty of Bath, known as “the scrumping apple” as it is in season during school summer holidays before most other apples. Hopefully in a few years time children (and adults) will again have the pleasure of picking and eating an apple straight from the tree rather from a pre-packed supermarket bag!

  • We also have two other apple trees – an Allington Pippin and an Annie Elizabeth.

In March 2012 the first educational visit to the orchard was by children from Leedon Lower School who planted wild flowers in the orchard, helped water the fruit trees and learned about fruit trees and the importance of bees to the environment. Hopefully there will be many more visits by schools, and as the orchard matures we will plan to have Apple Days and other events providing information and fun.

Other community / wildlife campaigns:

Station Travel Plan

Wildlife Meadow



Friends of the Earth