We have seen considerable demand from community groups and landowners for information on the impact of urban contamination on fruit growing in British cities. There is plenty of written information available online about the impact of contamination on annual and perennial food crops but limited material has been published specifically regarding top fruit.
To provide an accessible resource for communities, we carried out an extensive scientific literature review and sought advice from a range of sources including the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA); the Soil Association, University of Nottingham; Food and Environmental Research Agency.
This fact sheet brings together the research and aims to provide a useful guide to determining the risks of contamination in an orchard site and suggests measures to address the presence of any harmful chemicals.
Our research suggests that tree fruit is a low-risk food to grow in urban areas and that even where there is some contamination present in the soil, it is unlikely to be taken up into the fruit. When urban fruit is part of a wider diet, and provided the fruit is washed before eating to remove dust and air-borne pollutants, the fruit grown in our streets, parks and backyards can be considered healthy and safe.
The Orchard Project assesses each site we work in for potential risks and our work is informed by current research and scientific knowledge. We are continuously updating our knowledge in this area and welcome any feedback on this subject.
Please read our fact sheet and follow the guidelines provided when planning your community orchard.