Freeman’s Friends Start Makeover of Meadows with Community Orchard

Freemans Meadows on the Fairmile is one of Henley’s least known parks and over the last few years it has been neglected compared to others in the town.

Now thanks to the Friends of Freeman’s (FoF) who are working closely with Henley Town Council (HTC), this is starting to change and this week saw the planting of a community orchard of 12 fruit trees which include apples, pears, and quince in the Fairmile Court corner of the site.  The volunteers were helped by Kyle Dowling and Alex Bell from Henley Town Council Park Services.

Friends of Freemans are a group of volunteers who live locally to the park and want to help improve it.  They have suggested upgrades to the play area, removal of old play area concrete bases, planting of shrubs by the entrance and a hedge on Leicester Close boundary, installing 5-a-side goals, bigger bins and benches and creating a conservation area.  They have also proposed to HTC that they apply for Town Green status to ensure that the site is kept as an open space which will stop any development being built on it in the future.

Helen Gaynor said, “We had a brilliant turn out of enthusiastic Friends of Freemans’ volunteers to assist Kyle & Alex from the Parks Dept to plant our new community orchard here at Freemans Meadow. It was hard work, the ground certainly lived up to its ‘Stoney Ground’ moniker detailed in the historical conveyancing deeds!!… but thankfully the weather was perfect and due to a well-planned prep and layout by the Parks experts, the task was made all the more enjoyable for everyone involved. It will be lovely when the trees are bearing fruit and they can be picked and enjoyed by all, particularly the children, we hope this will be something educational to be enjoyed by generations to come as well as now.”

Kyle said, “The new orchard is enhancing the landscape for the families in the community and they’ll be able to come and pick and enjoy the fruit.”

Next Wednesday (21 November) from 9.30am, the FoF will be planting some native wildlife hedging.  If you would like to help, please contact Helen at the email address below.

Helen added, “More good news for Freemans is that the swing set will be replaced sooner rather than later and the process for the refurbishment and improvement of the play area is well underway and all stops are being pulled out to have the job done by next Easter and certainly complete by the summer.”

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