12. What steps his Department is taking to promote community orchards. (155346)
Community orchards provide a place for local people to reconnect with nature, and they encourage biodiversity. That is why we have worked across government and with the European Union to make it easier for local people to establish community orchards.
In Herefordshire, the Bulmer Foundation does outstanding work in opening up community orchards for disadvantaged people of all backgrounds, and only last week Orchard Art was celebrated at a special service in Hereford cathedral. Does the Minister of State share my view that community orchards can have enormous social as well as environmental value, and will he join me in congratulating the Bulmer Foundation on its Orchard Art initiative?
Herefordshire has the distinction of being the second best county in the country for production of orchards. In 2012, research commissioned by Natural England found that community orchards produced a range of valuable benefits over and above the fruit they supply. They provide a haven for wildlife, lock up carbon and enhance the quality of life of the people living around them. I do indeed congratulate the Bulmer Foundation on the work it is doing and the difference it is making for local communities.