Our partnership with HEINEKEN UK has been transformational. Together, we’ve scaled up our operations to a national level, forged greater community cohesion and allowed disadvantaged groups to contribute to making their cities more sustainable.
In October 2014, Heineken UK and The Orchard Project launched the UK’s largest ever community orchard support programme. Through this collaboration, we have grown into a truly national organisation, and taken huge strides towards realising our vision: to ensure that every household in the UK’s towns and cities is within walking distance of a community orchard.
The Partnership’s Legacy: Highlights and Statistics
- Orchard Creation: we created and restored over 200 community orchards across England and Scotland, bringing thousands of people vital access to greenspace, to local friendships, new skills, fresh fruit and wellbeing opportunities.
- Empowering Communities: we have engaged over 38,000 people in our growing orchard movement through outdoor events, skills training workshops and networking summits. We’ve passed on our passion for orchards to groups of volunteers, who are now enthusiastically caring for fruit trees across the country. Our focus has been on supporting predominantly urban communities who have limited access to greenspaces.
- Environmental & social impact: our partnership has contributed to attaining eight of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development; community orchards are helping to create sustainable cities and communities.
- Innovation: the flexibility of the partnership has enabled us to take a reflective and innovative approach to working with communities and orchards. As well as scaling up our support nationally, other unique outputs include:
- Participatory budgeting (with community groups themselves voting where the money gets spent);
- A bespoke, wooden Orchard Design Kit;
- An Orchard Mentors Programme (upskilling experienced volunteers to support other, newer orchard groups);
- VeloJuicer, – an off-grid, bicycle-powered apple scratter and juicer;
- CICO – the first nationally accredited course in community orchard management.
- Heineken colleague engagement: we created tailored experiences for staff, from mucking in with apple pressing at our Community Cider Hub, to long-term community-embedded volunteering in orchards.
- The Orchard Project in Collaboration with Bulmers: we collaborated with Bulmers, a 100% British-apple cider, to raise national awareness of our charity and to share the story of community orchards with an even larger audience. We enlisted the help of TV presenter, Peter Andre, to accomplish a full ‘Orchard Makeover’ in a day. This collaboration gave us national exposure for our cause.
James Crampton, Head of Corporate Affairs at Heineken UK, says:
“As the UK’s largest cider-maker, we know a thing or two about commercial orchards. And through our partnership with TOP, we’ve learnt more about the power of orchards in bringing communities together. Over the last six years, we’ve been able to create 200 community orchards through planting and restoration projects, giving thousands of people access to more quality green spaces right on their doorstep.
It has proven to be a powerful way to help build healthier, happier, more resilient and more sustainable communities. We’re incredibly proud of that achievement”
In the words of our orchard volunteers:
“I feel calmer; it makes a huge difference to my mental health issues.”
“At my age keeping active is incredibly important, so having a volunteering experience that enables this is brilliant. Emotionally, you feel so proud of what you’ve achieved.”
“I got an actual job as a gardener thanks to my volunteering work”