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Woolly thinking helps protect fruit trees

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Children at Thornton Dale Primary School get busy knitting to help create part of a giant frost-proof duvet for Dalby's new forest garden

The Forestry Commission is calling on nimble-fingered folk young and old to help knit a massive woollen duvet to protect young fruit trees from icy weather.

Forest chiefs, North York Moors National Park Authority volunteers and the Friends of Dalby Forest are working on a new forest garden and have planted 200 shrubs, trees and herbs near the visitor centre in 3,440 hectare (8,600 acre) Dalby Forest, near Pickering.

To protect the vulnerable plants as temperatures plunge a unique knit-a-thon is being organised to make a giant woollen blanket to cover the 100 metre square plot and keep the soil toasty. 

The amazing effort will culminate in a public “Stitch Up’ up event in Dalby on 20 November (1pm – 4pm) to link all the knitted individual panels together to make the ultimate blanket. 

Petra Young, from the Forestry Commission, explained:

“We are talking to the Women’s Institute, people in sheltered accommodation and residential homes and local schools, including Thornton Dale, to get them to produce small panels.  We’ll need about 1,600 of them altogether to stitch together before the harsh weather.  It’s a really good way of protecting young plants – temperatures in Dalby went down to minus 17 centigrade last winter – and a brilliant chance for the public to get involved.”

People can help by knitting small panels themselves in any colour or design, measuring 30 centimetres square or more, and dropping them off at Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, Pickering Library or the Forestry Commission’s Pickering office on Outgang Road. Donations of wool and knitting needles are also needed as well as clean old blankets or towels which can be cut up into squares and stitched together.

Amongst the plants being nurtured are shrubs like raspberry and bilberry, apple and pear trees and many herbs.  The project is supported by the North York Moors Authority Sustainable Development Fund.  For more information contact Petra Young on 01751 472771. 

Get knitting!

Note to Editor

The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For more visit

Media calls to Richard Darn on 0775 367 0038