Pick of the bunch

DSCF5003©Geoff Wilkinson

The new South Woodford community orchard is going to be one of the best Grow Zones in Redbridge, says Louise Burgess of the South Woodford Society. From apples to goji berries, and angelica to viper’s-bugloss, it’s a place to enjoy nature… and pick a few redcurrants . Photo by Geoff Wilkinson

Redbridge Council will be formally launching its Climate Change Action Plan this July, showing how they will reduce their carbon footprint by tackling emissions from council buildings and vehicles, as well as steps being taken to support communities across the borough tackle climate change. There have also been studies over lockdown which have found that getting out and seeing greenery is really helpful to your mental health, so we want to show you how this can be done in South Woodford. 

As part of this initiative, a number of Grow Zones have been adopted by community groups. One of these is an orchard, which has been created by the South Woodford Society on the piece of land at the junction of Primrose Road and Mulberry Way, with funding from Redbridge Council and planting and guidance from the Orchard Project.

Within the space of a few short months, this area has been transformed into an urban orchard. We are growing jostaberries, angelica and goji berries, as well as gooseberries, apples and cherries. While the trees will not bear fruit for a few years, the Jerusalem artichokes, redcurrants and other berries can be harvested this summer.

We also have many wild flowers and plants, such as cardoons – and even a grapevine! Wild flowers have been sown throughout the meadow and include cornflowers, poppies and viper’s-bugloss, which should be flowering soon, adding to the other blossom and flowers that the bees have been feeding on – hopefully, to make some local honey.

The wet April, combined with the warm start to June, has meant the grasses and wild flowers are growing at an unprecedented rate, but a path has recently been mown through the grass, and anyone can come and use the area for a place to enjoy nature. We are hoping for benches to be purchased and installed soon, so there will be somewhere to sit too!

We have created some habitats for insects from piles of wood and hope that these can be further developed into bug hotels for various invertebrates, who will use the wood for food and later to hibernate in for the winter. Look out for some news soon, as we hope to have an open day where you can learn more about the wildlife that may be visiting and how we can help and protect them.

We desperately need some ideas for local tools storage – have you any suggestions? We’d also love to have a ‘green roof’ established somewhere in the orchard, to show residents how it can be done and how wonderful they look. So, if you have any experience of this, or ideas for storage, please let us know.

Of course, anyone is welcome to visit the orchard, and even if you don’t have any gardening experience, please do get in touch and we can have a chat about how you can get involved.

For more information on the community orchard and the South Woodford Society, email e18society@gmail.com or visit swvg.co.uk/sws