My job involves co-ordinating aftercare for our newly planted orchards. I recently went to Scotland to attend our Orchard Gathering in Glasgow and used it as an opportunity to visit as many of the orchards as possible – a plum job! This is a round-up of my trip.
First up was a visit to Linkes Food Forest with our Glasgow Project Manager Fergus. We stopped enroute at the storage lock up, and I got overly excited to see his Velojuicer contraption! Linkes is an ambitious site, surrounded by tower blocks where the wind tunnel affect could pose difficulties, but the makeshift windbreaks seem to be providing adequate protection while the edible hedges grow.
The trees and other plants are doing well – a couple of plants have died, but this is to be expected with any plantings as sometimes there’s simply no rhyme or reason for plant death. It was great to meet community members involved in the care of the site, and one of the things we discussed was creating signs. Shortly after at the Orchard Gathering one of the participants involved created this fantastic offering in response (below).
Next up was a visit to Govanhill Community Garden. I know we shouldn’t have favourites, but this site resonated with me. A mishmash of people from all walks of life, but able to find common ground, with gardening being almost secondary to the social connection. Alan and Marie showed me around and gave me their last fig, an honour I was happy to receive.
We then all huddled inside waiting for the birthday girl’s arrival (one of the volunteers and only 70!) It was a delightful interlude, epitomising that community orchards and gardens are much more than just growing food; they bring people together in beautiful and unexpected ways.
The orchard at Newton Mearns Baptist Church was part of Eco-Congregation Scotland plantings. Randomly, one of the people I met there used to be the librarian at my local library! We had a good chat as we toured the orchard, bemoaned pesticide use, loosened some ties, and admired a newly-emerged ladybird.
St Ninian’s Episcol Church in Comely Bank is a lovely, well-cared-for site where the orchard is made up of espaliers and cordons. It was the perfect time to prune trained forms, so we had a quick session accompanied by a watching robin. They’ve also planted some rare Scottish plants so it was great to learn about them.
Kelvin College’s orchard at their Springburn campus is part of the college’s outdoor education programme and is particularly used by SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities) students. It was great to be able to see the positive impact this sort of orchard can have on people and highlights the importance of orchards as inclusive spaces.
As someone with neurodivergence, I know my mind is more at ease in nature-based environments. We had some great chats about insects, biodiversity and the importance of mulch and why raspberries are suited to Scottish climes. Alas, a fire alarm went off and prevented me from taking photos, so here’s one of some Scottish slugs in an amorous Celtic spiral instead…
by Daniella Levene, Orchard Support Co-ordinator