Planting fruit trees for a place of relaxation in a stressful environment

The Urban Orchard Project in the Robin Hood Community Garden

date 2011

The Urban Orchard Project is a charity lead by Chief Executive Officer Kate Rosen, who is an individual concerned with the ways in which nature can be integrated into urban lives. Focusing on London in particular, the project has successfully implemented nearly 100 orchards in this vibrant and busy city since 2009. It started of with places such as the Caledonia Park and has expanded ever since, gathering funds from sites such as Justgiving and Makerble. It not only creates orchards but also restores it, as 60% of the orchards in London have disappeared since the 1960s owing to the intense development.

The primary aim of this project is to create an urban oasis and produce fresh fruits in an unused space. The side effect that comes with this is significant. Firstly, the orchards has a binding force to the community as groups such as local authorities, residents associations and schools are gathered to help with the designing, planting and maintaining process. The community is responsible for the success of the fruit crops, and this encourages a deep engagement. Secondly, due to the nature of the orchards of being visible and attracting attention, it helps to send a message across for the decline in the nation’s allotment and the importance of local produce. Thirdly, it promotes healthy diets through the consumption of local, organic crops. Finally, it blossoms the city’s biodiversity by creating a home for the wildlife, whose habitats were swept away by urbanization. It is successful as they create ‘orchard leaders’ to regularly update on the orchard’s wellbeing and the charity itself visits the site after six months.

A prime example is a project at the Robin Hood Community Garden, where locals gathered to plant trees in an abandoned corner of a flat park with a limited amount of playing equipment. Because of the plainness of the garden, it did not seem to attract many. However, the creation of the orchards is now the attraction of this place, with its main website promoting orchard creations as a way of delivering “riches to all”, where the riches indicate a place where everyone can enjoy. A small abandoned place fruitfully brought the community together and at the same time created a community for the wildlife.


Image: Millfields, copyright (permission pending)