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Thornbury Orchard Group: People for Nature winner, Bee Bold Awards (community)

Thornbury Orchard Group brings together residents to manage an old orchard and wildflower meadow for the benefit of the community and nature.

The Bee Bold expert selection panel commended the approach as a great example of community members coming together and supporting pollinators, using wildflowers in conjunction with orchards, and considering both food and habitats throughout the year.

What they did

Thornbury Orchard Group took over management of the old orchard under a volunteer agreement with South Gloucestershire Council. In 2016, that agreement was extended to include a grass area that the Group planted as wildflower meadow in partnership with the charity Buglife and the Council. 

The Group manages the area for native species of plants and pollinators. In 2019, they added a bee bank for ground nesting bees. In 2022, they planted 70 trees for the Queen’s Green Canopy initiative, including 20 fruit trees. 

The impact for Thornbury Orchard Group

The Group engages with a diverse range of volunteers from the Thornbury community, with open days and special events like apple days.  The Group has also connected with other active groups locally and nationally to share expertise and learning, including identifying species like ‘the Thornbury wasp’ - believed to be the first sighting of its type in the UK. 

In 2017 the wildflower meadow won the RHS Monk Trophy for best native planting in the South West. 

The impact for pollinators

The area is managed to support and nurture pollinators. Rewilding the orchard and meadow has created food and habitats for pollinators including red mason bees that pollinate the fruit trees and flowers. The stream provides water to the site and mud for the bees to use to seal their nests.