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Date: 28 May 2023
About the Community Orchard and Gardens
Working in conjunction with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospitals Birmingham has identified in excess of 16,000m2 of land that will either be re-designated for food production or habitat enhancement.
The ambitious project hopes to bring together a vast collection of organisations, charities and businesses to become partners for the improvement of this land.
From wildflowers to growing fruit and bee keeping to woodland walks, the Community Orchard and Gardens project covers a huge variety of areas on the hospital campus that will have a variety of aims but the main focus is on improving the areas for use by the local community, hospital patients, visitors and staff.
By far the biggest challenge is the incorporation of the Metchley Roman Fort which is an English Heritage Scheduled Ancient Monument. This has required consent from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and puts restriction upon the development that can take place on parts of the site.
The Orchard will rely on working with its partners and volunteers to help ensure that it remains sustainable and fruitful for years to come.
Activities across the project will reach each corner of the hospital site and in total will include improvement and activity on almost four acres of land.
Community Orchard and Gardens
Area 1 and 2
Volunteers from Birmingham City Council and the Cofely Team have helped to plant a formal orchard of fruit trees and more mature trees. QEHB Charity have helped fund the priming of this with a generous £5,000 grant.
In collaboration with the Woodland Trust and Birmingham City Council the overgrowth in this area will be cleared and a natural path will be made through the trees to create a covered woodland walk – this area will become beneficial for patients who might like to go outside but are photosensitive due to their treatment, the trees will provide shade and the wood will be under planted with bluebells and snowdrops.
In collaboration with the Woodland Trust and Birmingham City Council the overgrowth in this area will be cleared and a natural path will be made through the trees to create a covered woodland walk.
This area will become beneficial for patients who might like to go outside but are photosensitive due to their treatment, the trees will provide shade and the wood will be under planted with bluebells and snowdrops, creating a relaxing and peaceful area for patients and staff.
Unfortunately, due to the site being a scheduled ancient monument, we will not be able to undertake any works that would ensure this area is accessible to those in wheelchairs, or for those with mobility problems.
This will contain a secure storage area for the Orchard that will be incorporated at a later stage.
This area will eventually become home to up to 250,000 honey bees. These bees are essential to ensure the pollination of the flora across the site and beyond. The bees will be kept by expert Frank Dooley. The area is ideal for the bee colonies as it is elevated and away from any potentially disruptive human activity.
Area 7, 8 and 11
These areas will have some fringe planting and will also be inter-planted with fruit trees at a later date.
Area 9 and 10
These areas will see planting go ahead with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust working with Spring to Life, to extend the orchard planting. This will also include opening up an area of woodland to staff and patients as a therapeutic space.
The Fish Pond area has been cleared of overgrowth and some of the ivy that had grown to allow easier access.
Working with the Trust’s Dignity in Care Team, the area will be used to allow elderly care patients an outside space where they might take walks and exercise.
The area will include plants and flowers that will not be harmful to the patients but provide comfort and a relaxing space for them to convalesce, it well also help to form part of Greening Dementia.
In addition to the above areas we are working with the National Trust to bring one of the National Collections of Ferns to the QEHB site, utilising the courtyard spaces within the outpatients area of the hospital.