Monday, 7 March 2016

expand the orchard - March 2016 part 1

We were about to plant six more fruit trees and one bush to add to the eleven other fruit trees planted in January 2012 in the Mayow Park community orchard.
 It was time for a brief reflection back to the original orchard idea and how the orchard has developed  over the past four years. 
Before the original planting on the site there had been no fruit trees. Lewisham Council Greenscene had supported FOMP to create a new orchard and helped us to select the most suitable site in the park. We worked with the London Orchard Project (which has since become the Urban Orchard Project) to choose trees and we gathered sponsors from the local community.

Choosing the site - a slope for good drainage, sunshine, space between existing trees
Newly planted fruit trees in January 2012, carefully mulched and protected by tree guards
Back to the present - March 2016.
Planning began in autumn 2015 when it was agreed among FOMP members that we would plant four more apple trees already acquired and in containers. We chose the date, 5th March 2016, in anticipation that the worst of the winter would be past. 

Having been in contact with the Urban Orchard Project about our plans, we found that the Mayow Park orchard could be part of a national initiative called ‘Helping Britain Blossom’. This is a partnership between the Urban Orchard Project (UOP), Heineken and Bulmers. Rather than planting four trees it was suggested we have six or seven. And so we decided to add a quince, a cherry and an Autumn Olive (Eleagnus Commutata).

Planning was under way. Lewisham Council Greenscene gave approval and Lewisham’s tree officer visited to check the site. We are grateful for their help and support in developing an orchard for the community.  Glendale, (who manage most of the parks in the borough), also supported this expansion.

The weather forecast was for a rainy day, but the planting would have to go ahead anyway.
Yet the morning began fine and sunny, a clear sky. We could but hope that it would continue. Alas, change came and by the time we gathered to prepare tools and trees the rain had come. A quick dash home was needed for some of the group, to get waterproofs and Wellington boots.

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