The Orchard Project team is often asked, ‘what type of orchard signage is best?’. Recently in Edinburgh, community orchard groups set out to answer this question. Seeking ways to improve the signage in different community orchards, a collective embarked on a road trip in search of inspiration. Our Edinburgh Project Manager, Chris, tells us more:
Notice boards and signs are really useful to include in our orchards because they can encourage greater awareness of fruit varieties, orchard history and wildlife habitats. They can also act as an invitation to the public to get involved and attend workshops or events, such as the apple harvest; all helpful to ensure it is the local community who have ownership on an orchard site.
We visited three different sites in and around Edinburgh and gathered ideas on types of signage. It was interesting to learn how information is presented and how the public can be engaged in different ways to access and interpret the wildlife and nature found in these sites.
Hailes Quarry, near Wester Hailes
At the first site, Hailes Quarry, the group found that the font colour wasn’t contrasting enough with the background colour, and this made the info board tricky to read. This highlighted to us the need to be attentive when choosing a font, as well as recognising and considering the needs of people with ‘colour blindness’ or challenges in distinguishing certain colours.
Harlaw Wildlife Garden, near Balerno, Pentland Hills
We liked the above sign posts, particular that they were interactive; you had to move the sign to see the info. The emblem relating to a feature in the garden was detailed on the top of the board; there was a thought this emblem could lend itself to making a nature trail. We also commented that the info on the hidden board could be used with a question, or a call-to-action for protecting and conserving this natural area.
Additional appreciation on the trip was given to seating. We thought the perch seat, although not super comfortable, was a nice seat for resting, or observing wildlife. There were ideas that the curved dry stone dyke seat could potentially incorporate some features to encourage wildlife (eg hedge bog box, lace wing box or a mini beast hotel).
This design was favourable to the group due to its regular updates on what is happening or has been spotted on site.
The ‘speaking’ post is activated by pumping a pedal and then pressing a button. We felt that it wasn’t clear on being an information source. The poster, ‘Happy to translate’, we observed, but its resources weren’t located nearby and anyone wishing to access this service would need to get in touch in advance.
Hermitage of Braids, near Comiston Road
An additional idea for creating signage is by laser printing. This has been recommended as an economic method to create a sign printed on wood.Another technique that is being used in community gardens and orchard settings is pyrography.
The signage trip attendees discussed the need for public spaces to have inclusive signage for people with partial or complete sight loss. To this end, we received some useful comments on signage from the Royal National Institute of Blind (RNIB):
- Some people with sight loss can trace their fingers around print lettering as long as it is large enough (minimum capital letter height of 15 mm), which would also make it suitable for visual reading.
- If you combine braille and raised print lettering, it forms an accessible sign as given in ‘The Sign Design Guide: a guide to inclusive signage’ (see website). You can then combine this with colours, shapes, textures and layers and careful design to make a map or interpretation panel that can be read by both sight and touch.
- One thing to consider is that for tactile reading, everything should be raised and not recessed especially braille and print lettering.
Now, we’d like to hear about your favourite signage, or examples of engaging ways to communicate info. Do you know of any interesting example of excellent signage in aiding the public to make the most of a natural location? Have you come across any sites that use apps or have technological aids to communicate and interpret the space?
Your ideas and examples will help us create ‘Part 2’ of this blog post!
Please send on your ideas or inspiring examples to Chris at Chris@theorchardproject.org.uk
Thank you for reading!