A group of students have planted 20 tree seedlings as part of a project to restore an orchard at Writtle University College.
Lantra - the awarding body for land-based and environmental training courses and qualifications - donated the crab apple whips to the University College as part of a government initiative to plant 11 million trees by 2020.
The trees are a new addition to the orchard, which is being restored as part of a wider student-led project to enhance, develop and promote the issue of sustainability at the University College.
The students planted the trees on Tuesday (28 November) during National Tree Week, the Tree Council initiative which ran until 3 December.
Crab apple trees are a resilient species which thrive in almost any soil. The early blossoming flowers provide an important food source for bees, and, in turn, this will ensure the successful pollination of other apple trees in the orchard and a good crop in the autumn.
Alan Roscoe, Lecturer in Global Ecosystem Management at Writtle, said: “It's so important that we are more responsible about how and where our food is produced and our orchard restoration gives our students an opportunity to explore issues around sustainable production.”
Mandy Hollis, Business Relationship Manager at Lantra, said: “We are doing our bit by donating a crab apple tree to each of our training providers and also to the charity Andover Trees United. We donated 20 crab apple whips for the orchard site at Writtle and were thrilled to be involved in the planting of the whips during National Tree Week.”
As part of the orchard restoration project students have already organised a public seminar on traditional apple-growing and old orchards with speakers from the RHS, held a weekend event day for the community, and carried out a landscape character assessment.
They are currently clearing the area around 12 lines of old apple trees in a non-mechanised way, using hand tools, to protect the biodiversity - particularly ant hills - around the trees.