A growing community

Orchard-visual_1Artist’s impression

As plans for a community orchard in South Woodford progress, Louise Burgess of the South Woodford Society explains what help they will need in the coming months

Everyone needs a connection to nature.  It helps when stress levels are high, and can help with conditions such as PTSD, depression and anxiety – in children as well as adults.

Many people, as part of their daily exercise during lockdown, have found a new interest in walking around their neighbourhoods, and the number of people that have flocked to green areas such as Epping Forest and Wanstead Park shows how much we treasure our local green spaces. There is even a name for it: biophilia, which means “the rich natural pleasure we feel from being surrounded by living organisms”. This explains the peace we can find after walking in the forest, or even just petting our pets – it is simply the love of other living things.

So, if a small section of South Woodford can be transformed into a community orchard for all the population to enjoy and benefit from – and to create habitats for wildlife – our connection to nature can be increased as well as helping with the area’s biodiversity.

You may have seen the article last year which launched the South Woodford Society’s campaign to establish a community orchard in South Woodford. While the original fundraising pitch did not pass the requirements at that particular time, it did result in a number of pledges, and we continue to be committed to refurbishing this site and to enhance the community spirit that has so wonderfully come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, it’s good news that Redbridge Council has agreed to support the project. An agreement is being prepared that includes getting the necessary council permissions so that, once funding is in place, the site alongside the flyover on Mulberry Way and Primrose Road could be planted during this planting season, October 2020 to March 2021, all being well.

We have been in discussions with the charity The Orchard Project, which will be able to help in readying the land and planting the trees, but we have a fair amount of work to do before this can take place, and need to finalise the funding for the project before October.

We’re waiting to hear whether there are any other funding rounds we can apply for. In the meantime, we are investigating crowdfunding platforms, which will be accessed via the South Woodford Society website and will include information, timelines and options to donate. We will need help with setting up the crowdfunding campaign, so if you have any experience in this or are just enthusiastic to help, please get in touch.

We are also calling on all residents who are interested in gardening, landscaping and community projects of this nature to be ready to answer our call for action!

For more information on the community orchard and the South Woodford Society, email e18society@gmail.com
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