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
What kind of group?
Agreeing aims and objectives
Writing a constitution
Tackling leases and other legalities
Making sure you’re insured
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
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
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
Managing orchards for wild life
Hedgerow fruit for wildlife
10. What to do with the harvest
Juice, cider and perry
More ways of sharing the harvest
More ideas for orchard produce
Apple Day, October 21st
Ideas for celebrating an Apple Day
Celebrating the blossom
Celebrating with the arts
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
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.”
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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..."
"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."
"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."
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 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 www.commonground.org.uk
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.