at our Open Days
The University of Kent celebrates its 60th birthday in 2025, so most undergraduates starting this year will graduate in our Diamond Anniversary year!
To celebrate the anniversary and the class of 2025, this winter we are planting an orchard of over 300 fruit trees. Our hope is that students can help to develop the orchard and watch it grow with them over their time at university, and that by 2025 it is a fully complete and flourishing space, leaving a lasting legacy.
We are so excited about this project, and we're planning a series of events for students to get involved. This is just the beginning of the journey, with many memories yet to make.
We started the project with a launch event in Welcome Week, and heard ideas from students of how they wanted to see the space develop. The Sustainability and Landscape & Grounds team then used these to create a planting plan for the orchard.
We held four tree planting sessions, one each week in March, and with the help of the amazing grounds team and some volunteers, got all the trees in the ground.
We hope to hold our first of many sessions in the space this Spring/Summer. We are planning workshops, talks, guided walks and some basic surveying. Details on how to get involved coming soon.
We held four planting sessions throughout March, and planted all 300 trees. For those who couldn't be there, we filmed a video of the process, with interviews from our volunteers.
During Welcome Week 2022, we held an event to launch the Diamond Anniversary Orchard project.
Students were invited to the future orchard site, to explore the space and hear about the project, enjoy a Kentish picnic and live music, and watch a ceremonial planting of 6 fruit trees, one for each division.
Attendees were asked to suggest ideas of how the orchard space should develop, and to create designs of what it could look like. We collated their submissions to create a summary report, linked below.
The Southern Slopes provides an ideal setting for a semi-natural orchard and meadow that will not only be a beautiful space for students, staff and community members to enjoy, but also provides a complex habitat that will boost biodiversity in the area.
Step one is planting the fruiting trees, which once mature, will provide future students with fruit and nuts that they can harvest and enjoy. We will then be seeding wildflower seeds to create an understory orchard that we will cut swathes through proving a peaceful space to walk through and enjoy.
Because this orchard will be a mosaic of trees, grasses, shrubs, wildflowers and a pond, it will support a wide range of wildlife. As fruit trees age quickly, they create the perfect habitats for invertebrates and birds, such as the lesser spotted woodpecker and the rare noble chafer beetle.
This unique habitat will also feature key elements for our human community bring people and nature together. Accessible pathing so everyone can enjoy the space; seating with a view for meditation, rest or socialising; an outdoor teaching area; and a bird hide to spot nature from a quiet vantage point.