The Urban Orchard Project

A few TheUrbanOP_logos_longplain_13May2014years ago I did a short permaculture course, and among the many interesting people there were two with a grand plan to plant mini-orchards all over London. They’ve been very successful. In the five years as the London Orchard Project, they’ve trained two thousand local people to care for fruit trees, and this winter they will plant their 100th London orchard. There’s one just round the corner from where I used to live in Highbury.

The trees planted so far, once they’ve matured, will provide over 100 tonnes of fruit every year. There are apples, pears, plums, cherries, apricots and other fruits, with sites on schools, in parks and empty plots. Some sites are old orchards that have been restored, and others are entirely new. All the fruit is free to anyone who wants to come along and pick it, and it goes a little way towards rectifying the fact that 95% of the fruit we consume in Britain is imported.

The group has become the go-to organisation for urban orchards, with considerable expertise and experience, and so this year they’ve renamed themselves the Urban Orchard Project and will begin working outside of London for the first time.

One of the keys to the project’s success is to engage the community, getting them interested in the orchard and encouraging them to help out practically. Here’s a little video about how they work to involve local people, and there are more how-to videos on their site should you be interested in starting your own community orchard.






  1. This is great. I live in the Boston area and there are all kinds of small patches of land. They have grass that the city mows a few times a year, other than that they are idle lots. Often as I’ve driven by a certain plot I’ve wondered about the city planting trees. The plot is near the highway, the trees would absorb carbon from passing cars and the city could cut and ship the tress for mulch in 5-10 years, and start over. New trees absorb more carbon than mature trees.
    Fruit trees would be good for other plots of idle land.

  2. Wonderful-when one thinks that it was King Henry V111 who encouraged the growing of fruit orchards in Kent, becuase he was concerned over the amount of produce being imported and then they were grubbed up for Housing. I live in North Staffordshire and are surrounded by 100 of acres of grasslands mainly for feeding the large numbers of cattle and sheep-BUT hardly a fruit tree in site or any of this land being cultivated to grow vegitables. Intensive cattle farming is not the best for all-the animals own muck is spread over those fields, which apart from the smell, and the degree of nitrate left, is doubtful of its ultimate gainful properties for the animal. Many people in our area, are preferring to purchase their fruit & veg from the local grocer who we know buys all British grown fruit & veg whereever and whenever they can-obviously cheaper than the supermarkets. Too much land is given over to the feeding of livestock and not enough in my view to the importance of grwoing fruit & veg which would help with everyone’s health.

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