New community orchards in Britain’s unused urban spaces help to address our need for greenspaces, promote community production and ownership of fruit, and help us rediscover the pleasures of eating organic fruit grown close to home. Community orchards also cool the urban environment, take up access rainfall and create habitats for wildlife, increasing the city’s biodiversity. In an era of climate crisis, planting trees which will provide a large yield year after year for decades to come is a logical move, helping to build food security and community resilience.
How We Plant Orchards
We partner with local authorities, residents’ associations, Transition initiatives, park user groups, schools and other community groups to help design, plant and maintain community orchards in the nation’s parks, housing estates, schools and universities. We’ve worked with diverse groups from church congregations to refugees, all of whom enjoy uniting around a common outdoor purpose.
We also provide training to five orchard leaders per orchard, who are responsible for the care and harvest of the trees. The orchard leaders are volunteers, and have all attended our dedicated training day on fruit tree technical skills and leading a community orchard project. These leaders have also developed an orchard management plan for their respective orchard and are responsible for getting others involved in orchard maintenance and activities as ‘orchard carers’. We keep in regular touch with our orchard leaders to make sure all is going well with the trees and provide a follow-up visit six months after planting.
Want to visit an Orchard?
Some of our orchards are in public parks, so if you fancy seeing how the trees are getting along – and possibly even helping yourself to an apple – head to Green Gate Common in Haringey, Caledonian Park in Islington, Archbishop’s Park in Lambeth or Nursery Row Park in Southwark, Haggerston Park in Hackney. If those are too far to visit, you might just have to start your own local orchard.
Caledonia Park: Case Study
Have a look at some pictures here and below are some quotes from community members about their new orchards:
The best thing about having an orchard is the opportunity for our inner city children to have an understanding of how things grow and ultimately to see and eat the fruit. This is especially important as many of our children do not have a garden.
Tony, Tower Hamlets
The trees look beautiful and crucially it’s positioned in the heart of our estate so visible to all. It’s great to have something special for the community on the estate as opposed to the usual low maintenance shrubs.
We had a fantastic turnout of around 25 people turn out for the Orchard Planting Day on Cowley Estate. We planted a total of 9 trees and look forward to seeing them grow and look after them and hopefully add some more next year if we can. The support from the London Orchard Project is great.
It was great to see so many people turn out to plant and meet more of my neighbours. I feel so proud of our tree planting!
It’s so nice to do something outdoors and physical, I feel really useful and productive doing this.
A huge thank you for a very well organised (as always!) planting day yesterday. It went really well and we had an amazing turnout with a lot of people interested in ‘adopting’ a tree which will be a good way of involving people in the enjoyment and maintenance of the orchard.
The planting day was such a fantastic lift to all of us who have been working on the garden for the past year.