Through our Community Orchard Project we want to get people excited about growing and eating locally produced fruit. The vision is for a network of fruit trees, on the Oxford City Farm site, in public spaces and people’s gardens around Florence Park to be a focus for fruit sharing and hands-on learning for the whole community.
We are offering training and support so people can feel confident about planting and looking after their fruit trees, so they will be producing fruit well into the future. We have been sharing skills and building knowledge and, as a result of funding from the Midcounties Cooperative, we have been able to offer pruning workshops, have developed fruit tree grafting skills within the orchard team, and have offered advice on planting, initial pruning and how to care for more mature trees.
The project is also about making friends and building a ‘fruit community’ – we want to share fruit and come together in all sorts of fruit focused activities, such as apple pressing, which can be a lot of fun for the whole family!
This is what we have been able to do so far.
- We have planted five apple trees in Florence Park as part of the 80th Birthday Celebration in June 2014 – Bramleys Seedling, Egremont Russett, Elstar, James Grieve and Jonagold – with the support of Oxford City Council.
- In Winter 2015 we planted a line of 10 cordon and pear trees on the farm site along the edge of the tree nursery.
- We have run two pruning workshops – led by the very experienced Chris Lanczak who is the Orchard Manager at Waterperry Gardens. The focus has been the fruit trees in Florence Park and more mature trees in people gardens.
- New trees have been planted in people’s gardens around Florence Park – there are apples, pears, cherries and plums – all adding to the urban fruit forest and providing good new habitat for wildlife.
- We held an apple pressing day in October 2015 with the apple glut and it was a lovely activity for a sunny Autumn day.
- Some of the orchard team have also been learning grafting skills so we can produce new fruit trees for the Oxford City Farm site and beyond
All with funding from the Midcounties Cooperative Community Fund – many thanks!
But there is still more we want to do
- In 2016-2017 we aim to plant a small orchard on the Oxford City Farm site – this will form part of the wider Community Orchard – and we also hope that it will be the focus for a future social enterprise project.
- We will continue to run skill shares and pruning work parties to help bring some of the area’s more mature trees back to good fruiting.
- We will also be running various fruit related events, such as apple pressing so keep an eye out for planned events on our events page.
If you are interested in being a part of the orchard project we would love to hear from you – there are lots of ways to be involved
- would you like to plant a fruit tree in your garden
- or pledge an existing fruit tree
- or maybe volunteer to help with the project
If so, please get in touch.
Below are some links we have found useful with information about choosing and caring for your fruit trees
- Oxford City Farm Tips sheet – Contains lots of great advice for choosing, planting and caring for a new fruit tree
- Urban Orchard Project – An exciting project supporting community groups to plant orchards
- Royal Horticultural Society – Lots of useful advice pages on planting and caring for your fruit trees
- Fruit ID – Useful site helping you to identify your fruit tree
- Walcot Organic Nursery – Really useful advice pages
- Orange Pippin Trees – A great explanation of the different root stocks