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Community Orchard

Hello, I wonder if anyone can advise- I live in a small West Norfolk village and we have a patch of land on the edge of the village we have decided to use as a community orchard. It is a little bleak and weedy at the moment, and we think the chalky soil and lack of on site water might be an issue.... Has anyone out there any experience of setting up such a project and any advice they can offer? Big subject, but we are keen and eager to get going. First step is improving access and fencing/ hedging- then what? It must be wildlife friendly. 


  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 21,221
    There’s a very active and popular community orchard near here. See this

    The original orchard was outgrown and now they have apple trees lining the roadside as street trees.

    Their apple day is very well attended, even when the weather isn’t kind.

    Lots of info on their website, but I’m sure they would be more than happy to help you with other stuff.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,564
    The RHS is keen to encourage community gardening and has a few orchards of its own in gardens such as Wisley and Rosemoor plus one being planted in tehir new garden at Bridgewater, Salford. 

    If one of you is a member they'd be happy to advise and if not, I suggest one of you  joins.  It's not expensive, you get a monthly magazine, free entry to gardens - Harlow Carr not far from you - and free advice from experts.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    We have a community orchard in north London. There is a little about it
    It's attached to a nursery and is designed, in part, for kids to learn about wildlife and growing. Nearly everything in the garden is edible - under a matrix of assorted fruit trees. It is also designed to be as diverse and self-sustainable as possible - with no watering, high mulching and very tough plants. It's run on a no-dig, permaculture, food rich system.
    It's run by a few volunteers with no committee or formal organisation, so it travels light. All food - salad leaves, fruit, flowers etc are free for anyone to pick at any time. There is no gate or fence around the orchard, as the pics show.
    We have an Apple Day, apple pressing and a harvest day and wassailing of the trees every year.

    The crowd are very interested in grafting and experimenting with graft - like adding a plum to a blackthorn or adding five different varieties of apple onto one tree.
    The emphasis being on food systems - the trees are trained to be low so that the fruit can be reached easily and maintenance is easy. They experiement with pinning branches down low, and it has proved very successful. 

    The lady who does most of the planning and organising is very experienced and knowledge about plants and their systems. I'm sure she would be happy to talk about your projects if you wanted to talk things over.
  • Thank you so much for the responses so far!  Very useful. I will pass this on.
    Our little patch will need some sort of hedging as there is a fairly busy road next to the site and we want to have children come and join in activities there.  I like the grafting idea - good way of saving space to have several apple types on one tree!
  • NewBoy2NewBoy2 BristolPosts: 1,811

    They are on my allotment site.

    Good luck
    Everyone is just trying to be Happy.....So lets help Them.
  • Brilliant,  thank you. We are very tiny so not sure how far we'll get. The site is a bit awkward with no water supply. It's only big enough for a dozen trees, but we hope eventually to be able to extend.
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    edited February 2020
    Our orchard is fairly small with no water supply either, on a main road, but doing well.
    Below is the original planting design but lots has been added since.

  • Thank you!
  • I drive past a community garden quite regularly. It has a notice up saying help yourself, donations in the letter box of the shed. I haven't stopped to investigate yet but I can see they have globe artichokes growing well. I must stop and have a nosey one day, may be able to off load any spare seedling/veg. plants, as well as pick something I do not have in my own garden. A great idea.
  • That sounds great. It would be useful to be self funding or helped with donations. Thanks.
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