This short clip gives a background on one of my favorite urban food forestry initiatives, The London Orchard Project (LOP). LOP is charitable organization that was founded in 2009 by Carina Millstone and Rowena Ganguli. Over the past three years, they’ve been busy and have managed to plant 37 community orchards, organize fruit harvests with hundreds of volunteers, rejuvenate neglected orchards to keep heirloom apple varieties alive, and map their projects. Evidently, the press loves their work — they’ve already had 41 articles written about them in the past 3 years.
Here’s a brief description of their community orchard planting initiative from their website:
“New community orchards in London’s unused spaces help to address the city’s allotment shortfall, promote community production and ownership of fruit, and help us rediscover the pleasures of eating organic fruit grown close to home. Community orchards also green the urban environment and create habitats for wildlife, increasing the city’s biodiversity. In an era of climate change and peak oil, planting trees which will provide a large yield year after year for decades to come is a logical move, helping to build food security and community resilience.
Fruit trees are well suited to the urban environment as they can be trained or grown on dwarfing rootstocks to fit into small spaces. Once the trees settle in, they require very little maintenance compared to annual vegetables, making them perfect for the busy Londoner!
We are partnering with local authorities, residents’ associations, Transition initiatives, park user groups, schools and other community groups to help design, plant and maintain community orchards in London’s parks, housing estates, schools and universities.
We are also providing training to five orchard leaders per orchard, who are responsible for the care and harvest of the trees. The orchard leaders are volunteers, and have all attended our dedicated training day on fruit tree technical skills and leading a community orchard project. These leaders have also developed an orchard management plan for their respective orchard and are responsible for getting others involved in orchard maintenance and activities as ‘orchard carers’. We keep in regular touch with our orchard leaders to make sure all is going well with the trees and provide a follow-up visit six months after planting.
So far we have planted 37 community orchards of approximately 10 trees each. These have included apples, pears, plums of new and heritage varieties, and the odd experimental mirabelle, apricot, medlar and peach.
Some of our orchards are in public parks, so if you fancy seeing how the trees are getting along – and possibly even helping yourself to an apple – head to Green Gate Common in Haringey, Caledonian Park in Islington, Archbishop’s Park in Lambeth or Nursery Row Park in Southwark, Haggerston Park in Hackney. Don’t tell all your mates though!”