Orchards have played an important role in our communities for hundreds of years, providing a communal space for gatherings and celebrations as well as providing a bounty of fresh fruits and nuts. Community orchards are fantastic places for people to come together as a focal point for community activities. They also promote the health benefits of fresh produce and outdoor exercise, improving wellbeing and making our cities and neighbourhoods more pleasant places to live.
Orchards offer a hands-on approach to learning new skills. People of all ages can learn about nature and the seasons and learn vocational skills such as pruning, harvesting and grafting. By cultivating variations on the traditional British apple, Malus Domestica, groups can also produce their own new strains of apple with their own unique flavour and texture – creating a strong link between the local community and the orchard.
Orchards have their own special calendar, bringing numerous opportunities for community groups to come together throughout the year. From the ancient wassailing tradition in January, through to Blossom Day and Apple Day, orchards provide a natural centrepiece for community celebrations and get-togethers.
Community orchards have seen a great renaissance over the last few years, meeting a genuine desire for communities to have a place to meet and rediscover the benefits and pleasures of cultivating green spaces. It’s hugely satisfying to grow and eat organic fruit grown close to home and at the same time creating a place where local wildlife can flourish.
A tree, once established, will yield fruit for decades – a real study in sustainability. And by caring for trees organically, there’s no need for pesticides, fungicides or man-made fertilisers. That’s a real boost to the natural habitat and the birds, bees, ladybirds and other animals that live there.