Red fruit orchard at FC United’s Manchester ground to offer free fruit for fans

24 May 2016

Fruit trees come in all different shapes, sizes and colours but for the latest community orchard being created in Greater Manchester as part of a wider initiative by Helping Britain Blossom to create 100 community orchards by 2017 with City of Trees, red is definitely the colour. 

That’s because on 24th May, FC United of Manchester, the supporter owned and run football club founded in 2005 by Manchester United fans, will be the new home of 22 red-apple-bearing fruit trees which are being relocated with a further 34 trees from Moss Side community orchard at the soon to be redeveloped Moss Gardens in Manchester.

FC United, which is renowned not only for its football but for its community and environment-friendly ethos, plans to create an ‘avenue of trees’ at its Broadhurst Park ground, featuring not just the ex-Moss Side cider apple trees but a wider variety of red fruit trees including cherry and plum, chosen to match the team colours.

On match days, football fans as well as local residents will be able to help themselves to the fruit bounty produced by the established trees, which can then be used for cider production, home baking or simply for munching on throughout the match.

A merry team of enthusiastic volunteers from the club, otherwise known as ‘The Diggers’, have already received specific orchard training in planting, mulching, pruning and harvesting thanks to Helping Britain Blossom and local delivery partner City of Trees.

FC United member, bee keeper and head of The Diggers Richard Searle explains: “As well as being passionate football fans, here at FC United we’re equally as passionate about building a community-based club that is environment and wildlife-friendly.

Since the completion of our new ground at Broadhurst Park in 2014, we’ve planted more than 100 different trees and a variety of pollen-friendly plants and shrubs. This latest addition of 22 cider apple trees is a further celebration of nature and ties in with our plans to be a pollinator-friendly football stadium.

Then of course there is the added benefit of free fruit for our fans and the wider local community. As a child I grew up in an area where fruit trees were plentiful and helping yourself to delicious ripe fruit was second nature. We want to bring that experience to visitors to Broadhurst Park, year after year.”

Helping Britain Blossom - a partnership between HEINEKEN, The Urban Orchard Project and The Bulmer Foundation, with local delivery partner City of Trees - is a nationwide project, with the aim of creating and restoring 100 community orchards across Britain by 2017.

The launch of the initiative took place in Greater Manchester and Leeds at the end of 2015. Dan Hasler is Helping Britain Blossom’s Greater Manchester Project Manager and is no stranger to community orchards. He, and local Moss Side residents, established the community orchard at The Moss Gardens, the iconic former Stagecoach bus depot site, which will soon be developed into housing.

Says Dan: “I’m delighted that FC United and its team of ‘Diggers’ – with support from City of Trees - are taking 22 of the cider trees from The Moss Gardens and giving them an impressive new home at Broadhurst Park, complete with red-painted cladding from leftover pallets from their 2014 stadium build.

Community orchards are such wonderful assets, bringing communities together, teaching new skills, supporting wildlife and producing delicious fresh fruit for the whole community to enjoy.”

Peter Stringer, is special projects manager for City of Trees, Helping Britain Blossom’s local delivery partner. He says: “This project demonstrates that everyone can do their bit for planting more trees and we hope that the example set by FC United and the other beneficiaries will inspire the people of Greater Manchester to contribute to the vision of planting a tree for every man, woman and child across the city region.”