This is a 6.5 acre former allotment site that became neglected and overgrown but is now being restored by volunteers and used for community events, forest schools and bushcraft. It has several veteran apple and pear trees.
Where can I find it? Gate next to no 53, Riverview Park Road, Catford, London SE6 4PL
Can I visit? It is open for volunteer sessions every Thursday 12 – 3pm and the second Saturday of every month 10.30-1pm. See website for details: Wildcatwilderness.org
How do I get there? 10 minute walk from Catford or Catford Bridge train station.
What is there? There are three apple trees, including a Merton Worcester and a Bramley’s Seedling. There are also two veteran pear trees, two plum trees, plus many damsons and plum suckers. The old apples and pears may be over 100 years old!
History of orchard: A former allotment site, abandoned around 2006-2008. Owned by the Leather Sellers, an old London Guild, and now leased to a local charity, The Rushey Green Time Bank, who have been working with local volunteers since 2014 to restore the site – clearing brambles, creating paths, picking litter. A local resident remembers seeing a sign for “The Orchard” when he used to go there, around 10-15 years ago.
Biodiversity highlights & habitat: The veteran trees provide wonderful habitat for deadwood invertebrates.
Community: There are regular weekly volunteer sessions (www.wildcatwilderness.org) and open days for the local community.
Two local primary schools, Rathfern and Kilmorie run Forest School sessions there.
Working Together: The Orchard Project worked with Rushey Green Time Bank in 2018 – 2019. We helped run a Wassail celebration in winter and a Harvest celebration in the autumn, with apple juicing and chutney making. We did outdoor classes with two local primary schools, got volunteers from LSE to help mulch the trees, and ran workshops in summer and winter pruning and grafting. We also identified two of the trees and made labels for them.