From Field to Orchard

In Tree planting on January 19, 2009 at 8:41 pm


We planted a community orchard on Saturday. It all started three years ago when I wrote a proposal for a heritage orchard in the hope that someone would champion the idea and find some land.

Ten years before my idea was born a group of residents had saved a plot in the middle of town from becoming an indoor bowling club and car park, it is a stones throw from one of the main shopping streets..but nothing much had been done with it , just grazing for a few sheep and some gyspy ponies, they feared that it would get snatched away and developed so they came to me and we started writing letters..it all went slowly and we took it as far as we could..eventually I stepped back..because it really needed a big input from the town itself…It faded into one of those possibilities that you whimsically toy with every now and then..but Lo and Behold…last year the town council called me in and said they would secure the land and do the fundrasing…..the orchard was actually going to happen and happen quickly…..We got together a steering group, we created an Apple Day..I poured over cultivar books trying to choose trees…we all had to hit the ground running..and before we knew it….planting day was here….

Over 200 people turned up throughout the day. It was crazy, it was wonderful, it was overwhelming…..I expected something more sedate..and I suppose for punters it all looked fairly serene really….but for me it was one long frenetic ride with a few breathers here and there. The sun smiled on us, the wind took a holiday, there was homemade soup and bread and cheese there was mulled cider, a constant log fire, children digging for pottery, and there was singing, a hundred voices in harmony welcoming the new trees.

My son took himself off to the singing workshop and found his own place in the circle of singers..he told me all about it that night at dinner. I’m sometimes alarmed at his independance, but he’s grown up with David and I doing this kind of thing..it’s almost homely to him to be surrounded by strangers with muddy hands having a good time but my daughter is still baffled why we want to do things for other people..so am I…. if I’m honest..where does that drive come from?

It starts with sharing..I know that..but it’s also to do with a knowledge (or is it an ssumption?) that most people want what we want, fellowship, connection with the earth, meaningful activity…..and judging by Saturday’s turnout..we might be onto something.

The field has been used for centuries for growing of some kind and there was something in the feel of the soil..apart from the broken pots,  that testified to all the other hands that had turned the soil…..there will be a row of allotment plots in the orchard bringing people in daily and adding to the diversity, there will be a wildlife area and places to just sit and enjoy the trees..I’m hoping this is the first of many such projects here..and I’m glad that this one has grown out of my own dreams, whisperings and ultimately, action.

  1. I would love to quote you in a piece I am writing on orchard restoration Kim- love your enthusiasm and passion. It will be published in Living Woods magazine- do you have any objection to this or would you like to add anything ?

    • Hi there..been away from the blog. for a while.if it’s not too late would be just fine to quote me….email if you want to chat..

  2. Hi from Ireland, good post, deserves a Digg.

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