Fruity endeavours and wooden energy

University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) has submitted plans to create a faith and community tree that will be the centre of an exciting project of Community Orchards and Gardens.  UHB have identified 16,000 sq m of land that will be re-designated for food production or habitat enhancement.

UHB working alongside partners Helping Britain Blossom and The Trust Conservation Volunteers has helped a variety of community groups and organisations to take ownership of unused areas on the Queen Elizabeth site to help the area be more than 'the hospital on the hill',  Following on from UHB establishing a fresh fruit and vegetable stall, open 6 days a week, and a farmers market the orchard aims as it matures to provide not only a place for peace and quiet and community but also fruit for patients and local people.

“This is a long-term project. It will be four or five years before we start cropping decent amounts of fruit, but the beauty of it is that a well-managed orchard will then go on for decades helping patients at the hospitals and local people.”
The produce coming from the orchard will be used to help people in the local area, to teach them how to grow, tend, cook and prepare food and it will all be donated to benefit the community.

The image below shows the scale of the sites which will be a mixture of orchards, wildflowers and trees, 

The centre of the Orchards and Gardens is one of three formal orchards of 20 trees which grew to 40 by the end of 2014 with the total of three formal orchards totalling over 100 trees.  UHB propose to put the faith and community tree near to the entrance to the hospital in a prominent and highly visible position.  The proposed tree by sculptor Lynn Mahoney will be steel and copper and will change over time and act as a focus for celebrations.

The example Tree shown below, reproduced from, is smaller than the commission that is envisaged for the site but gives an idea of the tree which will act as a a focus for faith and community celebrations.

More information on the UHB Orchard and Gardens can be found on their website:

Helping Britain Blossom's involvement is part of their wider project to help set up 10 community orchards which will be created in Birmingham by 2017.  Wednesday 11 February saw a walking orchard, as seen in the top picture, visit key Birmingham sites to mark the arrival of the project.  The urban community orchards aim to help social cohesion, environmental improvements, provide local people with new skills and be a valuable source of nutritious free fruit.

Helping Britain Blossom aims to create and restore 100 community orchards across Britain by 2017.

This weekend sees an underused ex-bowling green in Perry Hall Park become the latest urban community orchard with the planting of up to 20 trees on 14 March.

Rob Tilling, Birmingham’s Helping Britain Blossom Project Manager, said: “For some communities in Birmingham, there’s little or no access to green space, or what they do have is really neglected. Through the support of Helping Britain Blossom, up to ten new urban community orchards are set to bring amazing benefits to the communities that need them most.”

For more information on Helping Britain Blossom you can visit their website, or use the hashtag GetFruity on social media., Twitter: @HelpBritBloss, Instagram: HelpingBritainBlossom.

While new trees start to seed across Birmingham the city is helping pioneer the use of wood to generate energy from wood that would have otherwise ended up in landfill.

The UK's first biomass plant fuelled by waste wood,, will soon be producing energy.

He says that around 4.5M.t of waste wood is generated in the UK every year, and while some of the best material can be recycled for paper production, most goes to landfill. The Birmingham Bio-Power plant, as it is known, will require around 67,000t a year of waste wood, and a local supplier has been signed up to provide it.

The biomass plant sits on the site of a former pioneering Birmingham factory, Webster and Horsfall, who made the wire for the first successful transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866.

More information on how the plant works and how it has been set up on the former factory site can be read in the New Civil Engineer article,


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