Orchards in the Community increases target to 2000 Orchards
The DCs for Bees “Orchards in the Community” has inspired partners, community groups, schools and individuals to plant mixed fruit orchards throughout Ireland to provide a much needed early Spring food source for our pollinators.
In the last two years, Host in Ireland has been the proud founder and supporter of the DCs for Bees initiative. When this project got underway we never imagined the enthusiasm we would see from the Irish data centre ecosystem for supporting Ireland’s pollinators. We knew we were the first industry to offer help to the National Biodiversity Data Centre to undertake such an initiative and it has been rewarding to see the programme go from strength to strength.
DCs for Bees was created to raise awareness, advocate, and most importantly, take - and inspire others to take action to make Ireland more pollinator-friendly and support the survival of our pollinators for future generations. The Orchards in the Community initiative, in particular, has inspired partners across Ireland to pledge, fund, source and plant orchards throughout Ireland. At our launch event earlier this month, we came together to celebrate the success of more than 1260 orchards planted in every county on the island of Ireland - both in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland - truly making this an all-Ireland effort.
Orchards have played an important role in communities for many centuries, providing a focal point, a gathering space, and a place where people and nature successfully work together to create abundant harvests. They provide vital green spaces in our cities and towns, where people are encouraged to interact with nature either through becoming custodians of the trees or by simply being around them and enjoying their shade, beauty and fruit.
From the start, we have worked alongside the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan to ensure the actions we take mitigate the consequences of our actions and be as impactful as possible. This collaboration is also enabling, for the first time in Ireland, the ability to track concurrent pollination success by planting uniform orchards in multiple locations within the one growing season.
Each person who plants an Orchard is asked to, once a year, go out and record the number of apples, plums or pears growing on the trees and upload this count onto the National Biodiversity Data Centre website. This Pollination Service can only be conducted when the same species of trees are planted during the same dormant window in various locations around the country. This 'like-for-like' count will give an accurate picture on the levels of pollination across the country. In addition, there is also a map tracking each of these Orchards to potentially jumpstart the creation of pollination corridors throughout Ireland. For now, they can act as pollination rest stops.
The success of the Orchards project has been so overwhelming that we have recently decided to roll the project forward into the 2022/2023 planting season. We are increasing the target from 1000 mixed fruit tree orchards to 2000 – the equivalent of 10,000 fruit trees right across the country!
A growing waitlist of schools and community groups across the country are already lined up to take the next batch of orchards. The project has provided a means for organisations, schools & community groups to foster an appreciation of, and awareness for, protecting and encouraging biodiverse habitats in our local areas.
In this time of climate emergency, when many of us feel disempowered, our DCs for Bees community orchards can become a tangible way for people to take positive, practical, local action on food security, tree coverage and biodiversity loss. One of the things that makes Host in Ireland unique is our founding belief in success through collaboration. When we are all focused on the same goals as a community with a purpose, we can have a much bigger impact. We know as a collective we are able to make a greater difference in fighting one of the greatest threats not only to bees, but to the entire planet.
If your organisation would like to get involved, please visit the DCs for Bees Orchards in the Community website at https://www.hostinireland.com/orchardsinthecommunity