The re-fruiting of South Woodford

Orchard-visual_1Artist’s impression of the orchard

The South Woodford Society has launched a crowdfunding campaign to establish a community orchard outside South Woodford station. Louise Burgess explains the benefits for the community… and cider drinkers

As evidenced by our street names of Primrose, Mulberry and Cowslip, the south-east side of George Lane used to be a flower-filled space, with market gardens and a dairy. We are aiming to put some of this country feel back into South Woodford by building a community orchard, refurbishing the current small green spaces and improving the planting.

Our campaign is crowdfunded, using an online funding platform for ideas that bring local places to life. Projects are matched to funds from councils, foundations and companies that might want to help. We are hoping that our funding will be met by a donation from the Mayor’s Fund, organised by the Mayor of London.

We’ll work to re-imagine this area. As these spaces are currently a little neglected and run-down, we are proposing to refurbish this area and enhance our pride in our community.

South Woodford station has just had a new step-free entrance on the westbound side of George Lane, which has been a great support for the community, but we are hoping Redbridge Council and TfL will take this opportunity to work with us to brighten up the rather utilitarian look of the new entrance and the surrounding area. This area includes two small sections of green space, and the larger of the two spaces, at the corner of Primrose Road, will be the site for an orchard to provide free fruit for the community with additional bee- and user-friendly planting.   

We would like the broken brick planters by the local car park (junction of Mulberry Way and Primrose Road) to be refurbished by the council and we would like to add some Christmas lights to an already established fir tree, to create a welcoming aspect to this corner of South Woodford during the darker winter months.

The rather neglected subway under the railway line would benefit from repair and redecoration, and the installation of CCTV for security will also be requested, although this is in the gift of the council and TfL and is not in the scope of this current project.

We have the backing of the council’s Head of Civic Pride, Councillor John Howard, and our local councillors to carry out this work, and we will be engaging with local businesses and schools to include the views of their pupils, customers and staff in how the project is carried out and maintained.

There are many benefits, not least the increase in the residents’ community wellbeing, which will result in less crime and greater security in the local area. High-level planters should discourage antisocial behaviour and increased use of the area by residents will also prevent abuse.

New community orchards help to address the nation’s allotment shortfall, promote community production and ownership of fruit and help us rediscover the pleasures of eating organic fruit grown close to home.

The Orchard Project will collect our fruit and give back cider in return – for every 3kg of apples, we will get back a 330ml bottle of the limited edition Local Fox Cider. The fruit can be collected from late August and previous locations have included Walthamstow, Herne Hill, Richmond and Perivale.

The fruit can be of all shapes and sizes as long as it is unsprayed and from London. The most important thing is that fruit is separated into blemish-free and those with slight blemishes – even the odd bug is fine!

Community orchards also help to green the urban environment and create habitats for wildlife, increasing our city’s biodiversity.  In an era of climate change and peak oil, planting trees, which should provide a large yield year after year for decades to come, is a logical move, helping to build food security and community resilience.

To donate to the campaign, visit swvg.co/orchard (pledges will only be charged if the project hits its funding goal of £22,588 by 12 August). To find out more about The Orchard Project, visit theorchardproject.org.uk. For more information on the South Woodford Society, visit southwoodfordsociety.com or email e18 society@gmail.com
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