Langford Orchard

Community case studies


Established on an acre of old ridge and furrow farmland, Langford Orchard was planted in 1998 as a community green space when the thousand houses that make up Langford Village were first built on the outskirts of Bicester. After more than a decade of neglect, Langford Orchard Group was set up in 2011 to take on the orchard project and, in 2012, was given permission by Bicester Town Council to manage the site, with some conditions.

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Langford Orchard Community Action Group

It took the volunteers five years to tackle the dense scrub at their monthly work parties, but their hundreds of hours of hard work are bringing the orchard back to life.  Clearing the brambles, some of them blackberry cultivars which were part of the original planting scheme, revealed a mosaic of fruit trees – 18 apples, three mulberries, two pears, a wild pear, two cherries, a plum and a damson – which the group has started to prune.  Fortunately, the Town Council has now relaxed some of their original conditions and, in 2017, Langford Orchard Group planted a new row of dwarf fruit trees including a cherry, a plum and two apples which were grafted by the group.  The group also take care of a nearby community allotment where they grow several ‘step-over’ apple trees.

To enrich the biodiversity, part of the orchard is being developed as a wildflower area.  Following the successful introduction of yellow rattle in 2018, a further area was scarified before knapweed and more yellow rattle seeds, collected from BBOWT’s nearby Meadow Farm Reserve, were scattered in autumn 2019.  Between eight of the dwarf fruit trees, children are nurturing their own wildflower areas, each about the size of a table-top.  

Young people are regular visitors and volunteers.  In addition to their own children’s group, Langford Orchard Group run occasional fruit classes for the two primary schools nearby and are ably helped several times a year by the local cubs who are particularly keen to chop up prunings to make habitat piles and bug hotels.  

Further improvements were made in 2019 when a rainwater harvesting system was set up, collecting rain from the roof of the allotment’s storage sheds and piping it through the chain-link fence to the orchard.  In addition, a grant from Cherwell District Council enabled the group to commission two top bar hives made from recycled wood by Bicester Green Community Action Group.  The resulting honey was not taken, left as a reward for the busy bees which made it, and the group hope to have more hives soon.  

The highlight of every year is Apple Day attended by about 200 people who enjoy taking part in a range of wildlife and fruity activities from bird talks and making prints of wildflowers to pressing and juicing apples from this thriving community orchard.

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