Local school pupils will be joining forces with corporate and community volunteers next week to plant more than 100 fruit trees, and 120 metres of ‘prickly berry hedge’ on an underused corner of Leith Links.
Charlotte Encombe, Chair of Greener Leith said, “Thanks to funding from the People’s Postcode Lottery Trust, we’re delighted to be able to establish the Leith Childrens Orchard. As the trees grow they’ll provide a great learning resource for the local schools, free food for passers by and a home for wildlife. We see this as a step towards developing an outdoor classroom on Leith Links, one that can be shared by all the local schools, nurseries and youth club.”
“We developed this project in response to the Leith Links Ask consultation that we ran in 2008. This found that Leithers are really keen to see more than just grass on Leith Links. There is strong support for a better range of plants in the park, to encourage more wildlife, and to give local people more opportunities to get involved in the Links in a practical way.”
The Leith Links Orchard was inspired by a national initiative: the Commonwealth Orchard.
John Hancox, Director of the Commonwealth Orchard said, “Our aim is to reintroduce fruit planting into cities and to encourage children and the wider community to grow fruit and enjoy picking and using it for the benefit of the whole community. It’s great fun, it’s healthy and it helps kids to realise that fruit grows on trees. (But only if you plant them!)”
This initiative is a perfect example of how practical local action can have bigger consequences in helping to create a healthy and more fruitful Scotland.
One of the aims of the project is to ensure that future generations know that there are a lot more varieties of apples out there, than the two or three that are commonly stocked by supermarkets. Greener Leith is delighted with the support we’ve received from other organisations including the Commonwealth Orchard, Lothian and Borders Fire Brigade, Sky TV, BTCV Scotland, local schools, the City of Edinburgh Council – and last but not least, the local bowling club!
Local residents are welcome to come down and help us plant the Childrens Orchard on Saturday the 8th of May between 10am and 4pm. More information in the event flyer here.
This project expands on the work that Greener Leith has already undertaken to promote locally grown food. In 2008, we planted a number of rare variety apple trees in the Persevere Community Garden. In the same year, Greener Leith volunteers also planted the Pilrig Park Berry hedge, which is looking fantastic this spring. In 2009, we organised a Food Summit, to identify what was already happening, and what we could do to help. You can see the food map we produced and the report of the event here.
As well as delivering practical local food projects like the Leith Childrens Orchard, we also use the results of the Food Summit to try to encourage the council to provide more support for local food projects. For example, recently, we incorporated some local residents suggestions for free top soil for community gardens, and proposals for a council led ‘recycled tool bank’ into our response to the Edinburgh allotment strategy consultation.