Community Orchards Handbook

By Sue Clifford and Angela King

Community Orchards Handbook
Paperback, 232 pages £7.00
Published: 10th February 2011
ISBN: 9781900322928
Format: 210mm x 148mm


AI Sheets: Community Orchards HB Sales AI.pdf
Author Information: Sue Clifford & Angela King Author Info.pdf

Since the 1950s we have lost 63 per cent of our orchards through development or neglect, and even though we have been able to grow 3,000 varieties of apple in England, almost 70 per cent of apples we buy are imported. Common Ground has worked to interest local communities in creating and saving orchards to provide fruit and nuts, havens for wildlife and places of beauty. The Community Orchards Handbook shows how to start your own Community Orchard, from getting support to tackling legal issues, organising work, selling produce and enjoying together the fruits of your work. It gives suggestions on ‘apple mapping’ and saving local varieties, and practical advice on planting, harvesting and safeguarding your orchard. It includes a comprehensive resources section and is full of examples of diverse Community Orchard projects across the UK.


1. Orchards and Local Distinctiveness      

2. What are Community Orchards?         

3. The place of orchards in our landscape and culture    

4. Some success stories: land and orchards saved as Community Orchards                          

5. Community Orchards – how to start  

                Gaining support              

                What kind of group?     

                Agreeing aims and objectives   

                Writing a constitution  

                Tackling leases and other legalities       

                Making sure you’re insured       

                Securing access               

                Dealing with health and safety 

                Organising work parties               

                Keeping in touch with members and the wider community        

6. Finding out more       

                Organising a wildlife survey      

                Apple mapping

                Creating a parish fruit map         

                More ideas for involving people in the locality

                Saving local varieties                                                    

                Other approaches to orchard rescue or re-creation        

7. Planting a Community Orchard            

                Where to plant                

                Why local varieties are worth planting 

                Choosing the varieties 

                Planting tips     

                Paying for the trees

8. Adopting an old orchard         

Veteran fruit trees         

                Managing old orchard trees       

                Managing the grass sward and hedges  

9. Conserving and attracting wild life    

                Ecological surveys          

                Managing orchards for wild life

                Hedgerow fruit for wildlife        

10. What to do with the harvest                               

                Juice, cider and perry   

                Drying apples   

                More ways of sharing the harvest           

                More ideas for orchard produce              

11. Celebration

                Apple Day, October 21st              

                Ideas for celebrating an Apple Day         


                Celebrating the blossom             

                Celebrating with the arts            

                Celebratory publications            

                Orchard arts and artefacts          

12. Safeguarding your orchard  

                What to do if a local orchard is threatened         

                If an orchard really is to be lost                

                Case histories  

                Safeguarding your own orchard in perpetuity   

13. Orchard fruits and wild fruits             


1) Choosing the right legal structure for your Community Orchard          

2)  Model Constitution, Draft Tenancy Agreement, Draft Donations Policy and Example Risk Assessment            

3) Orchard groups and support organisations    

4) National contacts      

“This book encourages and celebrates the community spirits, social health and wellbeing that can be generated by fruit trees and orchards.”

- Reforesting Scotland - Autumn/Winter 2011

"The idea of Community Orchards is so good, so obviously right, that I think it's fair to describe it as vital. It will bring so much benefit to so many, in such an upbeat and positive way. I can't wait to see it happen more and more widely. Congratulations to Common Ground for their inspirational leadership and whole hearted good sense."

- Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

"Common Ground's Community Orchards Handbook is a rich and diverse eco-system in itself, at once practical and lyrical, with elegy and energy inter0twined. It's a handbook to be revelled in as much as dipped into for the handy hints."

- Jonathon Porritt

"The Community Orchards Handbook sits within arm's reach of my desk, along with one or two other Common Ground publications. It is an indispensable and inspiring reference for anyone wanting to enrich the meaning of where they live and introduce biodiversity and delight into their locality."

- Kevin McCloud - presenter Grand Designs

"This wonderful book is an invaluable source of information for anyone interested in community, locally-produced food, and preserving and planting orchards. It is a 'must' for anyone who cares about these things."

- Rosie Sanders - artist and author of The Apple Book

"This book is aimed at anyone who wants to establish a local community orchard. It is an infectious well-judged mix of the inspirational and the practical. If you are thinking of setting up a local community orchard, the first thing you should do is buy this book."

- Richard Borrie - Editor of

"Community Orchards Handbook is a delicious book. It argues that we need orchards around us not just because they reconnect us to culture, our sense of place and our history, and not just because they can boost our food security, but because they have a great potential for bringing us closer together, to form a focus point for community. A new social and cultural renaissance based on apples? Why not..."

- Rob Hopkins - Transition Towns Network

"We used Common Ground's Community Orchards Handbook when we started The London Orchard Project, and it has proved invaluable ever since. It is a must-have for the aspiring orchard leader."

- Carina Dunkerley & Rowena Ganguli - Founders of The London Orchard Project

"Common Ground has made thousands of people aware of the value of the local, the ordinary, the commonplace, and the everyday in their lives... It has renewed interest in the English apple and created a feast for it (Apple Day in October). For speaking to a part of our hearts that no one knew how to speak to before, Common Ground is the best green charity in these islands."

- Michael McCarthy - The Indepedent

Sue Clifford

Sue Clifford has been working in environmental planning and architecture for the past 40 years. She has served on many advisory bodies including for the Arts Council Visual Arts Panel, the Heritage Lottery Local Heritage Initiative, the Design Review Panel for CABE, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Regional Cultural Consortium for the South West. In 1994 gained the MBE for services to the environment.

Angela King

Angela King started work as a fashion designer and buyer in New York before becoming the Friends of the Earth first Wildlife Campaigner for England. She was then actively campaigning with Friends of the Earth and jointly initiated and ran the Friends of the Earth Otter Project and then went on to be consultant to Earth Resources Research and Nature Conservancy Council until Common Ground was founded in 1982/3.

Sue Clifford and Angela King have been at the forefront of cultural campaigning in the environmental movement and environmental awareness raising in the arts since they founded Common Ground in 1982/3 with Roger Deakin.

In 1990 Common Ground Angela King invented Apple Day and in 1992 the idea of Community Orchards was initiated, there are now hundred of events across the country on October 21st and many orchards are being developed for community use.

Common Ground is a charity offering imaginative ideas for people to progress for themselves in their own places, learning by doing. It has been supported by many funding bodies from DEFRA, the Countryside Agency, Environment Agency and English Nature to the Arts Lottery and Arts Council as well as many foundations and trusts.

Common Ground have won numerous awards and in 2010 were awarded The Independent Newspaper Green Charity of the Year. For more information on Common Ground visit

Sue Clifford and Angela King have written numerous books together and have edited three anthologies of Poetry for Green Books: Trees be Company, Field Days and The River’s Voice plus Community Orchards Handbook.

Publication Details:

Binding: Paperback, 232 pages
ISBN: 9781900322928
Format: 210mm x 148mm

BISAC Code:  GAR005000, GAR025000
Imprint: Green Books

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