City Orchard Projects

Photograph: The London Orchard Project

Across London there are crops of growing communities, mini-orchards and farms sprouting up in lots of different neighbourhoods. More and more Londoners want to be able to get involved in growing their own produce, and whilst they may not have the actual space they can turn to different sustainability and growing projects across the city. One such organisation is “The London Orchard Project” set up by green experts Carina Dunkerley and Rowena Ganguli in 2009. There are lost orchards across the city, the area around Heathrow airport used to have vast orchards all around and there were small-scale orchards in centre of the Victorian city. Apple varieties lost to the past include London Pippin, Merton Joy and Hounslow Wonder.

Photograph: The London Orchard Project

The group plants community orchards in London’s unused spaces and inner-city parks; across the city there is a shortfall in allotments – the average waiting list is 5 years and in popular areas it peaks at 20 years. The London Orchard Project helps Londoners waiting for their allotments and giving them growing projects close to their homes. They help to promote community production and gives locals the opportunity to eat fruit grown close to home. So far they have planted 23 community orchards of approximately 10 trees each, the trees have included: apples, pears, plums and even apricots and peaches. Once fruit trees have settled in they require very little help and maintenance – perfect for the city-grower!

Photograph: The London Orchard Project

The Hackney Harvest has been a off-shoot of the London Orchard Project, and carefully maps the fruit tree that are tucked away in squares, parks and gardens around Hackney. The group wants to make the most of the fruit the trees produce, ensuring that it doesn’t simply fall to the ground and go to waste. Volunteers spend their Sundays foraging through woods for fallen fruit, and then laden with produce they can enjoy the fruits of their labour. The group encourages recipe sharing and bake-offs!

Photograph: The Hackney Harvest

Both of these groups show just how easy it is to enjoy a taste of the good life in the heart of the city.