Friday, 21 May 2010

Hilly Fields Orchard Update

Back in February Rowena from the London Orchard Project (L.O.P.) came to one of our meetings to talk about a new London-wide scheme with the aim of increasing London's orchards and to see if we would like to be involved in setting up a new orchard somewhere in Brockley. One of the aims of Transition Brockley is to improve the area's self-sufficiency and awareness of the abundance of food freely available to us. Brockley has a long history of market gardens and orchards with some very old trees still surviving in back gardens so it seems quite apt that Brockley should once again house more orchards.

On Saturday 15th May Carina and Rowena from L.O.P. came to Brockley, firstly to check out the orchard that they helped to start at Lilac House which is reported as doing very well, but also to check out the site at Hilly Fields in preparation for a new orchard to be planted in November 2010. Carina and Rowena brought Russell Miller (L.O.P. principle tree expert) with them to assist in deciding on suitable positions for new trees. Also present were Rachel from the Hilly Fields Park User Group and Alex from Transition Brockley.

There was plenty to discuss including siting of the trees, potential varieties, funding, maintenance, protection etc. The site of the new orchard is planned to be on a lower part of ground next to the stone circle which is sheltered and would be ideal for new trees. After a walk around the site Russell suggested we could probably look at about 7 new trees on the site. We discussed what type of fruit trees to have and it seems that Apple varieties and possibly Pear or Plum look likely. Carina will narrow down our (very long) list of choices and we'll put it to the vote at the Hilly Fields Fayre.

Funding is also looking positive with £1000 already received in grants and another application to the Forestry Commission just going in. It is hoped that the orchard will be used by local school children and enjoyed by all. Fruit harvesting is unlikely to take place for the first couple of yearsd while the trees develop but when they are established Brockley's chances of feeding itself will increase just a bit!