Fire stations use land for community orchard and allotment projects

Firefighters are furthering their commitment to the environment by turning land at two fire stations into orchards and allotments for the local community.

Ilkley Fire Station launches fundraising for orchard

Silsden Fire Station is already giving members of the local community access to the land for growing a wide range of fruit, vegetables and herbs.

Now Ilkley Fire Station is following hot on their heels and has launched a fundraising drive in a bid to kickstart the planting of a community orchard.

The space at both fire stations wasn’t being used and until recently was just covered with grass. Dom Creed, watch manager at Silsden Fire Station, said: “This has been a fantastic initiative for the local community. We’ve had a group for people with learning difficulties and nine members of the public regularly visiting to grow fruit and veg.

“The allotment area has been in use for a while and we’ve just secured a Wellbeing Grant to create an orchard. This is an exciting opportunity for the people of Silsden as there is currently a 10 year wait for an allotment plot in the town.”

Produce being grown at the fire station includes carrots, onions, strawberries, radishes, cherries and brussels sprouts. There is also a herb patch growing a range of plants including mint, oregano, parsley and chives.

WM Creed said: “This really has been a community project and we’ve had so many items donated, from a shed to bay trees and strawberry bushes. We’ve made a polytunnel from recycled materials and there is also a seating area where people can relax and enjoy the plants and flowers.”

Ilkley Fire Station has just launched a fundraising drive in a bid to create an orchard. They are working with local charities, schools and businesses to make the site a community asset where people can learn more about nature and the environment.

The orchard will include 20 semi dwarf fruit trees, which will be a mix of apples, pears and plums. Watch Manager Lee Mitchell said: “Establishing an orchard and working with the public enforces the message that this is a community fire station and an asset for all.

“People will be able to pick fruit, receive gifted fruit, help maintain the orchard and meet the firefighters while understanding more about the work we do as a fire service. It also means we are doing our bit to help capture carbon and meet the government’s targets of net zero by 2050.

“The local garden centre Moss and Moor has been incredibly helpful, advising on the best types of trees for a northern climate, as well as supplying the trees at trade price.

Climate Action Ilkley will be helping to make sure the orchard is looked after on a long-term basis with their trained volunteers overseeing a pruning and maintenance programme. We are looking forward to getting started and hope to be supplying fruit to the local community next year.”

The orchard at Ilkley Fire Station can be supported through the Crowdfunder site here. People can donate any amount or sponsor a tree for £75, which will include a small plaque at the base of the tree to acknowledge its funder.