Nestled between the Allotments and the Community Woodland in Cutteslowe is a half-acre plot of land that is in the process of becoming an orchard, created and cared for by the local community.
Soon after the plan for the orchard was announced in March this year, practical and financial support started to flood in (including the National Lottery). Additional interest and support also started to come from the Cutteslowe Community Partnership and local businesses. We currently have an informal group of around 80 people who are interested to be kept in touch via the Next Door neighbourhood app and a Facebook page. Our work events have been great times of meeting neighbours and new faces from around Cutteslowe, with over 40 people taking part so far.
Ian Sheppard, who many know from the Allotment Society, and Michael Huth have been leading this project and want to invite more people in the community to take an active part. Ian has many years experience in horticulture and parks management. Michael is currently studying for a Permaculture Design Certificate and has just started his studies for a Certificate in Community Orcharding. Both of them are happy to have a chat and explain more about the Orchard.
An Orchard Design and Planning day, lead by the Heritage Fruit Tree Co, was followed by lots more activity: rubbish clearing, levelling, weeding, planting of peripheral trees. Unfortunately, the promised wildflower meadow has not materialise due to the poor soil conditions, which, if untreated, would give the trees a bad start. Instead of the wildflowers we decided to work on the soil by aerating it and feeding it with manure. This will however not put back the planting schedule later on this year.
We have placed an order for an initial 42 mixed fruit trees, mainly heritage varieties. We are planning to have several stages for creating this orchard and our vision is to make it ‘multi-functional’. This means we will plant a variety of heritage fruit trees first. This will be followed by fruiting shrubs and edible hedgerows. At a later stage we are also looking at establishing a small Forest Garden area (an ‘edible forest’ or foraging area). Most importantly we want to allow a whole natural system with new wildlife habitats to establish itself.
It also means there will be other uses of the orchard to educate and create communal learning experiences for young and old. There will be several ‘yields’ throughout the year.
A more formal Orchard Group might get established at some stage. In the meantime, please like us on Facebook or join our informal Group on the Next Door app.
For more information or to support, contact Michael Huth at firstname.lastname@example.org.