25 March 2022

Pear trees planted in Allerton Project community orchard to celebrate groundbreaking Leicestershire research farm’s 30th anniversary

Trees donated by the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers

Local people joined liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers on 24 March 2022 at the Allerton Project in Loddington, Leicestershire, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the pioneering research and demonstration farm. Five new pear trees were planted in Allerton’s Community Heritage Apple Orchard to mark the project’s birthday and commemorate HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The tree planting is part of the Company’s initiative to plant 500 fruit trees for Her Majesty’s jubilee.

L-R: Hugh Oliver-Bellasis, Laurence Olins, Dr Alastair LeakeL-R: GWCT Vice President and former Allerton Project Chairman Hugh Oliver-Bellasis;
Master of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers Laurence Olins; Director of Policy and
the Allerton Project Dr Alastair Leake.

“We are very grateful to the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, for donating the trees and suggesting that we mark this significant date for us and Her Majesty by adding to our community orchard, which was originally planted to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012,” said Dr Alastair Leake, Director of Policy and the Allerton Project for the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT), which runs the farm.

The Allerton Project, which recently featured on BBC Countryfile (6 February 2022), uses the 320-hectare farm to research the effects of different farming methods on wildlife and the environment and improve policy makers’ and the public’s understanding of agricultural and environmental issues. Research on the farm has led to farmers across the country planting crops to feed songbirds in winter and a range of measures to reduce soil erosion.

The farm was given to the GWCT in the will of Lord and Lady Allerton in 1992. Since then, a strong bond has developed with the local community. The orchard was planted in 2012 in partnership with the Loddington Women’s Institute, to help conserve old Leicestershire apple varieties, and its members help to take care of the orchard and enjoy the apples.

“We recently held a Community Pruning Day when local people spent the day with us pruning the trees ahead of the growing season,” commented Alastair. “It was wonderful to see the community coming together at Allerton to enjoy the outdoors and reconnect after the disruption of the last two years.

“Part of our mission is to engage with rural communities and develop awareness of agriculture and food production, so it is very important to us to involve local people. And we greatly value the support and contribution of the community we are part of,” said Alastair.

The orchard also plays a key role in school visits to the Allerton Project, organised by the Country Trust – a charity that connects children with farming and where their food comes from.

“We use the orchard to explain about pollination and bees, the importance of fruit in our diet and why we plant a range of varieties to ensure we have fruit for as long as possible,” continued Alastair.

The Master of the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, Laurence Olins, planted the first of the new trees, using a specially engraved commemorative silver spade. One of the famous City of London Livery Companies, the Company was established before 1300 AD.

Mr Olins said: “The Worshipful Company of Fruiterers launched an initiative last October to plant 500 fruit trees in batches of 5, 10 or 20 trees to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. One of our members donated five pear trees to sit alongside the already established Diamond Jubilee community apple orchard at the Allerton Project. As Master, it is my privilege to plant one of these trees and recognise the excellent work being conducted at Loddington.”

Justin Farrington-Smith, who is a Liveryman of the Company and donated the trees, planted the second tree.

Allerton Project farm walk led by Dr Alastair LeakePresident of Loddington Women’s Institute, Ruth Jarvis, added the third tree. Mrs Jarvis has a long association with the Allerton Project through her husband Phil Jarvis, who was the project’s farm manager for 29 years until 2021.

Ruth Jarvis commented: “Loddington WI was founded in 1952 with Lady Allerton being our first President, so it is very fitting that the Allerton Project, along with the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers, has invited us to join in commemorating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee by planting a pear tree alongside the apple trees that our membership helped to plant 10 years ago. There has been a strong relationship between the Allerton Project and Loddington WI since the project came to the village 30 years ago. We have had regular meetings and events in the Visitor Centre since its construction in 2012 and have provided refreshments on many occasions in return.”

Tina Fanshawe, Vice President of the Country Trust, and GWCT Vice President and former Allerton Project Chairman Hugh Oliver-Bellasis planted the remaining trees.

Jill Attenborough, CEO of the Country Trust, said: “We hope that the tree we planted today will bear as much fruit as the Country Trust’s partnership with Allerton has over the years. Visits to the Allerton Project provide a perfect opportunity for us to connect children with the land that sustains us all, to ignite their curiosity and build the confidence of children who wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to experience farming and the countryside. Definitely something worth celebrating! We all eat so it’s really important that we all have a chance to get involved in the future of agriculture.”

The visitors heard a short talk from Dr Alastair Leake about the key achievements of the Allerton Project in its first 30 years, as well as a farm walk taking in the groundbreaking agro-forestry project, wildlife seed mixes, tillage and carbon trials.

For more information about the Allerton Project please visit allertontrust.org.uk.

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Notes to editors

The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust is an independent wildlife conservation charity which carries out scientific research into Britain’s game and wildlife. We advise farmers and landowners on improving wildlife habitats. We employ 22 post-doctoral scientists and 40 other research staff with expertise in areas such as birds, insects, mammals, farming and statistics.  We undertake our own research as well as projects funded by contract and grant-aid from Government and private bodies.   The Trust is also responsible for a number of Government Biodiversity Action Plan species and is lead partner for grey partridge and joint lead partner for brown hare and black grouse.

The GWCT’s Allerton Project: The GWCT’s Allerton Project is an 800 acre commercial farm business attached to a Research and Educational charitable trust. The Project was established in 1992 with the objective of demonstrating how modern efficient farming and environmental conservation can co-exist. The development of the education objectives of the Trust has expanded substantially to several thousand visitors a year including school groups, politicians and farmers, thus necessitating the construction of a larger visitor centre. The challenge of converting a disused brick cowshed into a sustainable building was given to architect Sylvester Cheung from Melton Mowbray. 60 per cent of construction costs were obtained as a grant from the Rural Development Programme for England.

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