For our next “LoveParks” story we take a look at Peaceheaven Community Orchard.
Back in April, I visited the Peacehaven Community Orchard, which is located in the award winning Centenary Park, to find out where they are with this fantastic project. The Big Parks Project (as it was originally known) also included landscaping, the construction of a state of the art skatepark, two natural playgrounds, an award winning cafe and redevelopment of the community hub building.
The Community Orchard has been in development now for four years in partnership with Brighton Permaculture Trust. The first year a shelter belt was planted around the site, which will eventually protect the orchard which is in a very exposed windy site, hardly ideal for growing fruit. The shelter belt includes over two thousand shrubs and trees including 33 different species. These included fast-growing species such as Italian alder and Monterey pine, native trees like oak and beech, nut-bearing species such as walnut and chestnut; and fruiting species like cherry plum and crab apple. This should be of huge benefit to local wildlife as the belt grows outwards and upwards, and will hopefully eventually protect the orchard trees, and hide the view of the new (rather contentious) housing development which is now under construction.
Eventually there will be over a hundred apples trees planted, supported by partners/funders including Trees for Cities, Mothercare, Infinity Foods and private donations. The most recent batch of 19 trees, include 11 different varieties including 10 rare Sussex apples and a very late flowering French variety were planted this winter.
As the site is so windy and exposed, it has been necessary to protect the young trees, by building a netting cage around each one which considerably reduces the effect of the wind, but still allows light through. On a Saturday in April volunteers were asked to come and help attach the netting around the newest trees, before they start to come into leaf/blossom.
Sue Griffiths and her team of friendly volunteers have been guided on the tree planting and care by tree expert Bryn Thomas from Brighton Permaculture Trust. The volunteers were soon getting into the swing of the work, measuring and cutting the wires, threading the wire through the netting along the edging holes like a giant sewing needle, with the whole team coming together to put pressure on the cages, to ensure they are closed up as tightly as possible round the corner posts. The work was speeded up considerably this time by using “gripples” which can be used to join and tighten up wires.
There is always work to be done at the orchard, checking the trees, weeding, litter picking (and potentially watering which can be a challenge!) It’s a beautiful location to visit with benches where you can sit and enjoy the views, and listen to the skylarks. If you’d like to know more about the orchard and how you can help, you can find details on the Peacehaven Community Orchard’s facebook page.
I visited again more recently and the orchard was transformed, with wild flowers and bird song. Swallows swooped overhead and a kestrel hovered over the nearby meadows.
According to the Woodland Trust the UK need’s 50 million new trees per year to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Trees planted need looking after too. Get involved with some tree planting projects and save the planet!
The next volunteer day for the orchard is this Saturday! Do come along and have a look round and say hello, or stay and help for a while!