A tree planting ceremony on Marlborough’s historic Green turned sour as orchard-makers were met by a handful of vociferous protestors – and torrential rain.
Marlborough Community Orchard volunteers have planted 217 fruit trees – 171 of which have been rare Wiltshire apple varieties – over the past two years, in a bid to make Marlborough a ‘Town in an Orchard’.
The scheme has, until now, received town-wide support and in January, the group led 200 supporters wassailing around Marlborough’s ancient orchards.
But on Saturday (March 18) – three years since the community orchard idea was first mooted – a small group of residents noisily made their dissent known.
One of the protestors, Vivien Clark, handed out flyers describing the planting as ‘vandalism’ and a ‘no-return ticket being inflicted on The Green.’
“I like apple trees, but… not in this spot,” Mrs Clark told Marlborough News Online.
Peter Coleman, who does not live in Marlborough, but has friends with a house overlooking The Green said the area was common land, on which no-one had the right to plant.
“Nobody asked us whether we wanted these trees or not,” said an angry Roger Ellis, who lives near The Green, with his wife Nish.
Three trees were to be planted by mayor Edwina Fogg, who insisted the council had played by the book.
“The idea to plant apple trees here was passed by the Open Spaces committee last year,” she said. “There was one voice of dissent from Mrs Clark, who told us she did not like the idea, but would abide by a majority decision.
“Some years ago the council planted a row of lime trees across The Green, and then planted trees to disguise the electricity station, so the idea of having trees on The Green is not a new one.”
And Philippa Davenport, the renowned food writer and chairman of the Marlborough Community Orchard committee, said: “Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but I don’t share their view.
“Before the council discussed this matter I personally went around the houses on the west side of The Green and asked residents their opinion. One lady was unhappy, but she said she would abide by the majority view.
“The vision of growing fruit trees in ones, twos and small groups, in private and public spaces, around town, creating green lungs, green views and local foods for local people, has become a reality. Marlborough is ‘a Town in an Orchard now.”
Ironically, the Bramley apple tree planted by the mayor was “dedicated to all the people of Marlborough ‘Town in an Orchard’.” for their support of the project.
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