The Orchard Project (TOP) are a national charity who run projects in parks and public green spaces across the country as part of an effort to create, restore and celebrate community orchards.
As an organisation, they deliver activities such as apple harvests, apple pressing, and community orcharding certification. Their mission is to bring orchards into the heart of urban communities, with a vision of everyone in cities across the UK being within easy reach of a thriving community orchard.
TOP successfully applied to our Stronger Communities Fund in September 2022 for their “Manchester Parks Community Orchard Blitz” project, which took place from December 2022 through to March 2023.
The project offered free workshops for people in the local community to look after the orchards in their areas, helping them build skills and knowledge to ensure their local green spaces thrive!
We Love MCR awarded TOP £3,250 which primarily went towards costs for delivering 5 training workshops across Manchester, woodchip for mulching and other running costs. These 5 workshops took place in the following community orchards:
Delamere Park Orchard in Openshaw
Fallowfield Loop Orchard, off Crayfield Road in Levenshulme
Kenworthy Wood Orchard and Parkway Playing Fields, both by the Merseybank estate in Chorlton Park ward
Platt Fields Park Orchard in Fallowfield
TOP told us that the project was a success, with over 50 local residents attending the workshops learning essential orchard skills such as pruning and managing pests and diseases, whilst also meeting new people and appreciating their local green spaces.
An added bonus of the project was a Christmas ‘Wassail’ procession after the Platt Fields Park workshop, which is an annual tradition dating from the Anglo-Saxon era to bless orchards, ensuring a good harvest for the year to come. Celebrations usually involve music, dancing and a recognition of what orchards give to us – over 100 people attended this one!
Attendees across the workshops said:
“This session has really helped me understand how to prune trees and I now feel confident to prune the fruit trees I have at home.”
“Very welcoming, nice to meet new people and get active outdoors while learning new techniques.”
“I learned a lot today. I feel like we know what to do to keep our orchard healthy.”
We Love MCR Charity love to provide support to groups like The Orchard Project with grants like this, that perfectly illustrate the “Protecting and Improving Our Open Spaces” theme from our Stronger Communities Fund.
Not only did this project provide some much-needed aftercare to these orchards, it brought together residents across the city over a shared passion for the invaluable green spaces in our communities. We hope the skills taught here maintain Manchester's orchard health for years to come!