Sustain member The Orchard Project marks its ten year anniversary during which time they've planted, restored and maintained 420 community orchards with 8,000 fruit trees across the UK.
The charity started life as The London Orchard Project, the brainchild of their founders Carina Millstone and Rowena Ganguli. Carina was jogging round her local park and had a sudden epiphany about how much local fruit there would be in London if the Victorians had planted fruit trees rather than ornamental ones. She wondered whether we could create orchards in London to help feed people so you could step out of your home and pick a piece of fruit on your doorstep.
Carina and Rowena sent out an open call to community groups asking if any of them would be interested in planting orchards and hundreds of people got back in touch.
Their model involves providing expert advice and training community groups in orchard management skills for long-term sustainability. And they only plant orchards if there is a genuine community desire to have one.
In 2014 they expanded their remit from London and launched projects in Greater Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh. A couple of years later they secured lottery funding for a large-scale orchard restoration project in London, called A Celebrations of Orchards. This in turn generated the Local Fox project which makes cider and juice from surplus and waste fruit and was a finalist in this year's BBC Food and Farming Awards.
The CEO of The Orchard Project, Kath Rosen, commented:
"This decade has been fantastic, creating a community of orchardists in their tens of thousands, up and down the country; we will build on this huge success, evolving our model and activities to help future generations enjoy the bounty, benefits and beauty of community orchards."
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Sustain advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, promote equity and enrich society and culture.