24 May 2012
Well known conservationist, author and broadcaster Dr David Bellamy OBE has officially opened Canterbury Christ Church University's Golden Jubilee Orchard.
The orchard on the North Holmes Road Campus, Canterbury, was formerly a lawn area low in biodiversity interest. It has now been replaced with a mixture of native wild flowers and locally sourced heritage varieties of Kentish apples and cobnuts to enhance and attract wildlife as part of the University’s Jubilee celebrations and Bioversity initiative.
The carefully selected fruit trees also reflect the site’s history as part of the outer precincts of St Augustine’s Abbey, where the monks would have produced much of their own food and drink. The orchard is in the approximate location of the Abbey’s vineyard and is also the site of a commercial orchard prior to the building of Christ Church.
On opening the orchard Dr Bellamy congratulated the University for bringing the orchard back to the site. He said: “You’ve a fantastic team here at Christ Church who have brought the dream of this orchard to life and I congratulate you.
“When I grew up in London it was a very different place. We had wildlife in abundance with grass snakes, newts and frogs in our local parks and wild flowers to study. And in those years just after the Second World War the countryside buzzed with natural history. It was a time, I believe, when the UK was at its most biodiverse. Sadly things have now changed. Following those years we have lost most of our working apple orchards and all the flora and fauna that goes with them.
“So when I was asked to come to Christ Church and open your new orchard and join in with your Jubilee celebrations I couldn’t say no. It is wonderful to be standing in such a diverse apple orchard with all the simple goodness that it produces. And I can see from your work here that as a University you are going in the right direction with biodiversity. I hope to come back in many years’ time and see a wonderful, established orchard.”
Vice-Chancellor of Christ Church, Professor Robin Baker CMG, said: “We are delighted to welcome David to Christ Church and to celebrate with us the re-instatement of our heritage.
“We feel very strongly that we should be acting now to protect our future. We have a stewardship over the space we occupy and a responsibility to ensure that our students leave us understanding their responsibility to their environment in a challenging future.”
This Jubilee Orchard is part of Christ Church’s Bioversity initiative to develop a sustainable learning, research and recreational environment for its students and staff.
The orchard will be used to develop initiatives and activities to educate students, staff and visitors about biodiversity, local food production and importance of protecting heritage varieties and our links with the surrounding Kentish countryside – the Garden of England.
The Heritage varieties of apple planted include, ‘Beauty of Kent’, a popular ‘cooker’ in Victorian England but now considered too unsightly for modern commercial use; and ‘Cat’s Head’, thought to be an 11th century Norman introduction to England. A small area has also been planted with Kentish Cobnuts.
The orchard has also been registered as part of the ‘NHS Forest’ an exciting national project coordinated by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare that aims to include improving health of staff, patients and communities through increasing access to green space on or near to NHS land and encouraging greater social cohesion between NHS sites and the local community.
For more photos visit the University's Flickr site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/canterburyccu/
•Last year Canterbury Christ Church University received a First Class Award in the People and Planet Green League 2011, putting us in the top group of 142 UK universities and colleges.
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.
*2009/10 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey