We are delighted to offer our latest orchard qualification: the Crossfields Institute Level 1 Award in Community Orcharding (ACO). Join our exciting course to learn everything you need to know about managing healthy, productive community orchards, taught by our team of experienced orchardists. We run this course over several months, giving you an opportunity to learn a wide range of seasonally-appropriate skills, including:
- Tree planting
- Grafting (spring and summer)
- Pruning (summer and winter)
- Biodiversity, pests and disease
- Soil science and boosting soil diversity organically
- Managing orchards
- …and more!
As well as attending several practical face–to–face days, you will have access to our online training platform. This has 25 interactive quizzes and over 40 brilliant videos that you won’t find anywhere else. Our tutors are experienced and will support you throughout the course, leaving you feeling empowered and knowledgeable as an awarded orchardist.
Crossfields Institute Level 1 Award in Community Orcharding
To gain the ACO qualification (Level 4 in Scotland and Level 1 in the UK) you need to show an understanding of a range of orchard management topics. You’ll cover all these topics over 6 action-packed days and will be assessed via practical demonstrations and written tests. In certain circumstances, we can modify assessments to suit your needs. The course is regulated by Crossfields Institute.
Most of the course is taught by members of The Orchard Project team: Jo Homan, Lewis McNeill, Witchhazel Wildwood, Kate Davies, Chris Macefield and Fergus Walker. Jo Homan developed the course and is the main point of contact for students in London; Witchhazel Wildwood is the main point of contact for students in Wales; Chris is the main point of contact for students in Scotland.
“Lewis was great – really passionate, lots of interesting and unusual facts.”
“Jo’s knowledge always astounds me every week. Her teaching style to weave in different ways of teaching, facilitation is amazing.”
Working as an orchardist since 2001, Tom has specialist knowledge in old and local apple varieties. His work includes designing and planting new orchards, carrying out orchard surveys, orchard restoration, rescue work* and running a fruit tree nursery. As well as a deep knowledge in apple-care, Tom has well-honed practical skills in grafting, pruning and green woodworking. He runs workshops for the likes of The National Trust, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, and local community orchards. You can read an interview with him in the Telegraph here.
*Rescue work means propagating trees whose variety can’t be immediately identified or is known to be rare.
Than is a freelance veganic horticultural tutor, forest gardener, forager and all–round plant enthusiast. He currently tutors on the Certificate in Community Orcharding courses. Having worked for some years in food policy and sustainability research, his work is now focussed on creating and teaching about resilient food systems. He also teaches and delivers workshops with OrganicLea, Nourish the Wild and other community food growing organisations. Most of all he is passionate about indigenous earth wisdom, restoring wild spaces and creating edible landscapes that nourish all beings.
“[Than has a] nice balance of detail and going into things that might deviate from curriculum but are interesting. He is patient, clear … made you think.”
– CICO11 student
Russell’s main interests are: trees, beetles, bees, fungi, social justice and problem solving. Having worked for 14 years as a litigation solicitor, he left the legal profession to be closer to nature. He helped set up The Orchard Project and is also involved in Trees for Life in Scotland. In addition, he runs The Tree Musketeers, a Hackney-based volunteer group which plants and maintains trees. You can read an interview with them here. Russell established and chairs the Abney Park Cemetery Nature Reserve group, and also chairs the Ancient Tree Forum.
“A fantastic teacher. So much knowledge is shared. Russell is a walking encyclopaedia.”