Apples, pears, cherries and plums – thanks to a group of dedicated businesses and volunteers a community orchard of fruit trees is doubling in size at Northamptonshire country park Twywell Hills and Dales.

This country park, managed by Groundwork Northamptonshire, is a 17.1-hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest near Kettering.

Its orchard of fruit trees, first planted two years ago, is this month being doubled in size – thanks to a donation from the International Tree Foundation and support from international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty.

Kate Williams, Chief Executive of Groundwork Northamptonshire, said: “Our orchard, before planting, was a largely neglected, unused space. Thanks to this support we will have an orchard of more than 50 fruit trees, creating quality produce for our community to pick and enjoy for years to come. Our orchard will be bursting with a mix of rare heritage and local varieties, fruits that can’t be found in your local shops.

Lucy Staveley, UK Project Manager, International Tree Foundation, said: “ITF’s orchard programme is kindly supported by the Schroder and Chapman Charitable Trusts, enabling us to support community groups like Groundworks to plant and look after biodiverse community orchards.

“As well as providing an important habitat for wildlife, these orchards will become wonderful community spaces for people to come together to enjoy the trees and learn about fruit tee growing, and in time they’ll provide a source of healthy fruit.”

Balfour Beatty Living Places has partnered with Groundwork Northamptonshire to provide young people with work experience placements and future employment opportunities. Four of their trainees, along with other volunteers from the business, will be supporting with this project.

Kym Seekings, Contract Manager for Balfour Beatty Living Places said: “We are delighted to be working alongside Groundwork Northamptonshire and the International Tree Foundation to deliver this important community project.

“Through the orchard community project, we are providing our Groundwork trainees with the vital, work-ready skills they need to become productive members of our workforce, whilst simultaneously leaving a lasting, positive legacy for the communities in Northamptonshire.”