Whitley Orchard 1

Above target for tree planting with the help of some friends

  • Council plants more than 400 trees across the borough during the autumn and winter
  • Residents and volunteers help with planting at community orchard in Whitley

Volunteers and residents helped the Council to reach its target of planting 300 new trees across Reading this autumn and winter.

The Council has planted 320 new trees in the last five months and additionally replaced 86 dead and felled trees over the course of the winter planting season. Achieving over the Council’s 300 new tree target per year was aided by support from charity Freely Fruity in Whitley.

This season’s planting is contributing to the Council’s aim of creating at least 12% canopy cover in each of Reading’s 16 wards and achieving an overall canopy cover of at least 25%  across the borough.

Reading’s Tree Strategy, adopted in 2021, aligns with the Council’s Climate Change Strategy, with tree planting helping to absorb carbon dioxide from the air and contributing to the ambition for Reading to be net zero carbon by 2030.

Planting trees also helps reduce flooding and noise, improves wildlife habitat, provides shade as temperatures rise in the summer and improves the character and colour of the town.

Whitley Orchard 2

A new community orchard was started in South Whitley Park last March following a successful Council bid for £85,000 of grant funding from the Department for Levelling up, Housing & Communities.

Cllr Karen Rowland, Lead Councillor for Environmental Services and Community Safety, recently joined volunteers from Freely Fruity and 20 local residents to plant 50 additional fruit trees at the orchard.

All the trees were donated by Freely Fruity and their ambassador actor Winston Ellis also came along to help with the planting.

It is hoped that an interested group of residents will take ownership of the orchard to take care of it in the future, as well as get involved in other gardening projects in the area.

Cllr Rowland said:

“The great thing about the Council’s tree planting programme is that it directly benefits residents now and will continue to benefit the town into the future.

“Seeing more trees in our parks and along our streets gives a real boost to our wellbeing. Trees increase our biodiversity and capture carbon as part of their critical role in responding to the climate emergency.

“It was fantastic to have so many residents and Freely Fruity volunteers coming out to enhance the orchard that was started last year with some energetic tree planting. We all got some good exercise and enjoyed the great outdoors. It’s coming together beautifully in Reading’s South Whitley Park- benefitting the community and the environment both!”

Freely Fruity’s mission is to plant more fruit for people to enjoy in local communities for free and to reduce our carbon footprint at the same time.