Sandridge pupils get to the core of the matter by planting new orchard

SCHOOLCHILDREN did not get the pip when the Mayor of St Albans planted the first apple tree at Heartwood Forest – because they were not far behind with the spades.

Thirty pupils from Sandridge JMI School joined local residents and the Mayor, Cllr Maxine Crawley, to plant the first trees in the forest’s community orchard which has been named Fruitlands.

Around 30 semi-mature apple saplings were planted at the six-acre Fruitlands which is just a tiny fraction of the 858 acres that will become the largest new native forest in England. But its size means it will become one of the largest community orchards in the area. It was named by local resident Margaret Brown after the Woodland Trust, which is creating the forest, asked for suggestions.

The Mayor said: “It was a lovely, sunny autumn day and I felt honoured to plant the first apple tree. It was great to see the enthusiasm on the faces of the school pupils planting the trees. Heartwood Forest is a great asset for Hertfordshire and I look forward to watching it flourish in coming months and years and attracting thousands and thousands of people to our wonderful county.”

Louise Neicho, site manager for Heartwood Forest said: “In years to come we will hopefully have a flourishing orchard here on site, which will become a lovely community resource. It is community named, community planted and we want the locals to look after the orchard and take pride in what they’ve helped us create.”

The first community planting date of the season will take place on Sunday, November 21. To find out about the latest events go to