Planting to save the planet

AN organisation set up to help communities achieve environmental change is encouraging people to get outside and get involved.

One Planet Matters is holding a series of events at community orchards in South Gloucestershire during February and March, including in Hanham and Kingswood.

The organisation is a non-profit community interest company, set up three years ago to help creating environmental and social change.

It is instrumental in setting up and supporting local community groups who plant and then maintain community orchards, helping to improve local biodiversity.

The projects link with parish and town councils’ local nature action plans and South Gloucestershire Council’s target of ensuring that every resident lives within 15 minutes’ walk of a community orchard.

One Planet Matters director Kevin Thomas said: “The Community Orchard Programme brings people together, providing outside healthy activities which benefit not only the individual but also the wider community and of course the environment.”

So far schemes supported by One Planet Matters have planted 1,350 fruit trees and 2,000 wildflower plugs.
The organisation has also set up the Growing Communities Network, bringing together community growing schemes, allotment holders and orchards via an app to distribute produce to community food clubs, kitchens, and fridges as well as food banks.

A three-week trial last year distributed 325kg of fresh fruit and 175 portions of fresh produce: this year the network will be supporting charity Family Action’s food clubs, and is inviting growers with surplus fruit and veg to join up.
One Planet Matters has also created a schools network to help create school orchards, setting up growing spaces helping develop the biodiversity of school grounds, as well as providing support for the curriculum and activities via a biodiversity and growing awards scheme.

So far 18 schools and around 920 pupils have got involved.

In February One Planet Matters is organising community activity days at several sites in south Gloucestershire, including orchard maintenance, planting and habitat development.

The Hanham event is on February 18 at BS15 3PJ, behind Hanham Health, and will be the first step towards creating a community orchard and wellbeing garden. The activity day in Court Road, Kingswood is on February 26. Both are from 10am to 3pm.

The organisation is encouraging anyone who lives in one of the areas mentioned and wants to get involved to email or call 07378 323380.