Come on our exciting new course and learn everything you need to know about managing community orchards from our team of experienced orchardists. We run this course on 12 days over 12 months or 6 months, giving you an opportunity to learn a wide range of seasonally-appropriate skills. There are two upcoming courses:
The Crossfield’s Institute level 3 Certificate in Community Orcharding
We like to call it CICO for short! To gain CICO you need to pass the two compulsory units and at least one of the optional units.
- Units 1 and 2 (compulsory). We will cover: orchard history; tree lifecycles, physiology, identification and planting; tree care programmes; biodiversity; soil science; pests and diseases; formative and maintenance pruning; grafting; and effective group work. It takes 6 days to cover units 1 and 2.
- Unit 3 (optional). If you want to maintain an established orchard, possibly containing some veteran trees, you should choose this unit. If you aren’t yet connected with an existing orchard, we may be able to suggest one near you. This unit covers: veteran tree features; biodiversity surveys; veteran tree management; apple identification; apple varieties; taxonomy; and restorative pruning. It takes 3 days to cover this unit.
- Unit 4 (optional). If you want to design a new orchard this is the unit for you. We cover: summer pruning; extra grafting techniques; forest garden plants; surveying land; and designing a new orchard. Unit 4 takes 3 days to complete.
If you choose to go for the accreditation, your learning will be assessed using a combination of written tests, presentations, reports and demonstrations. We can modify assessments to suit your needs, if necessary. You’ll need to pass three out of four units to gain the certification, which is regulated by the Crossfields Institute. You may attend all sessions and gain all four units, if you wish.
Good, clear, well-edited and humorous course book with a lot of well presented and detailed information.
Time commitment and logistics
- Each day goes from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
- There are 6-10 hours homework for each training day and an 800 word pre-course report.
- The training will mostly be outdoors so you should bring appropriate clothing and a packed lunch. You should assume all days will go ahead, regardless of the weather.
- There should be no more than 16 people on the course so you’ll have excellent opportunities to network with other community orchard managers. On some training days, orchard mentors, apprentices or site volunteers will also be present.
- The sessions are taking place at physically diverse venues: Stepney City Farm, the Centre for Wildlife Gardening in Peckham, King Henry’s Walk Garden in Islington, Dick Turpin Orchard in Ilford, Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses in Herne Hill and Edible Landscapes London in Finsbury Park.
- Certified £400 (full); £300 (concessionary); young adult place – see below; or paying by volunteering – see below.
- Non-certified £300 (full); £180 (concessionary); young people place – see below; or paying by volunteering – see below.
Young adult place £40 and 6 days volunteering. *Only 2 places*
Two people between the ages of 16 and 24 will be able to attend the course at this reduced rate. The 6 days volunteering need to be completed before the end of the course. We will accept up to 10 applications by Eventbrite and do a short phone interview to choose 2 people. We will prioritise those not in full time employment who are on some kind of horticultural apprenticeship, training or voluntary work. You will only pay the £40 fee if you are accepted.
Paying by volunteering 12 days volunteering. *Only 2 places*
Two people per course can pay by volunteering. If you wish to pay by volunteering you will need to volunteer for every day of the course you attend, in advance of each day. Volunteering will need to be for The Orchard Project. We will accept up to 5 applications by Eventbrite and do a short phone interview to choose 2 people. We will prioritise those who have a driving licence and a willingness to support the restoration managers in their orchard maintenance and harvesting days.
Concessionary places are at the discretion of The Orchard Project. You would need to be retired, not in full time employment or on really low income. Please contact us to discuss this.
Contact details for more information on CICO
Please contact the Education, Skills and Training Manager, Jo Homan:
- 07714 745 408
Excellent communication leading up to the course with lots of information – course rundowns and useful links / directions etc.
Tutors for units 1 and 2
The core units are being taught by staff from The Orchard Project – Ella Hashemi, Jo Homan, Stephanie Irvine, Ryan O’Kane and Lewis McNeill. Jo Homan is teaching or supporting at every session. External tutor, Russell Miller is teaching on units 1 and 3.
Russell Miller’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 in Hackney – you can read an interview with them here. Russell’s other primary focus for the last 10 years has been studying, protecting and enhancing Abney Park Cemetery Nature Reserve. He established and chairs this group, and also chairs the Ancient Tree Forum.
Russell clearly knows his stuff and was able to relay it well. Great that Jo made it really relevant to our course. Complemented each other and having a variety of presenting styles worked really well.
Tutors for unit 3
Bob Lever began working in commercial and heritage orchards over 30 years ago, and has been teaching orchard skills for over 20 years. His clients have included the Orchard Project, the East of England Apples and Orchards Project, the National Trust, the Wildlife Trusts, Aspall Cider, several local authorities and numerous community groups. His West Norfolk orchard, where he maintains a number of veteran trees and an extensive collection of heritage varieties, is a county wildlife site and has won a CPRE award for its contribution to the local landscape. As if that wasn’t enough, Bob is the moderator for Malus cultivars for FruitID.com.
Steve Oram has ten years’ work experience with traditional orchards and has a life-long interest in the natural
environment and horticulture. After graduating from an Environmental Science degree at Greenwich University and a stint at Brogdale’s National Fruit Collection, he came to People’s Trust for Endangered Species to work on the orchards mapping project.
As well as taking actions to protect and enhance traditional orchards, his work involves managing and curating the national inventory of traditional orchards across the UK. Steve has specialist knowledge in the kinds of invertebrates found in veteran orchards and he has 60 top-fruit and 40 soft-fruit varieties growing on his allotment.
Knowledgeable and inspiring visitor lecturer – Steve Oram.
Tutors for unit 4
Tom Adams has worked as an orchardist since 2001 and has specialist knowledge in old and local apple varieties. His work includes designing and planting new orchard sites, carrying out orchard surveys, restoration/restocking of orchards, 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 (FWAG), and local community orchards. *Rescue work means propagating from trees whose variety can’t be immediately identified or that are known to be rare. Here he is being interviewed by the Telegraph.
Would highly commend Tom who answered all questions and is very knowledgeable. He kept our attention…. Skilled, knowledgeable and checking people were doing grafts safely and correctly.
Bryn Thomas has been teaching permaculture since 1994. As well as managing Brighton Permaculture Trust’s fruit projects, he is one of the founders of Brighton Permaculture Trust and is now the acting CEO. Particular areas of interest include fruit growing, pruning, forest gardening and green architecture. Bryn teaches forest gardening, permaculture design, pruning old fruit trees, fruit tree planting, caring for fruit trees and planning and planting small orchards. Here’s Bryn teaching tree pruning.
The Heritage Lottery Fund, Heineken and the GLA fund our Celebration of Orchards Project.