Project location: West Midlands | Birmingham
Type: Community Interest Company
http://peopleandland.org.uk/ | peopleandland
Conservation Gardening Wildlife & Conservation
Latest Activity: 3 months, 1 week ago
Created: Friday June 29, 2012
Highbury Orchard Community CIC provides opportunities for people to work the land in a range of ways, from foraging to fruit farming, and from volunteer to business enterprise.
The project is very local at heart. While it's well known that Joseph Chamberlain and his family lived at Highbury from about 1880 to 1915, most people don't know that it was also a very productive working farm, of which some remnants survive, most notably the 'kitchen garden' orchard within what's now the Four Seasons Garden Project.
This small orchard of 120-year old apple and pear trees have taken on special meanings for a widening group of people. Over the last 4 years, volunteers have started to restore the orchard, graft saplings, and prepare a new planting site in the old farmyard just above Highbury Park. We've got about 30 successful grafts so far, a regular contingent of volunteers turning up to our bi-weekly work parties, and a subscriber's list of nearly 200.
Since October 2010, all sorts of surprising and wonderful things have turned up: a brick floor, a great amenity space, an enthusiastic group of volunteers and visitors, bushels of apples and buckets of Highbury juice, a very tangible sense of re-creating a garden in the woods, an adventure space for kids of all ages, rustic benches and bodger's hut, art and craft works and more history than you can shake a stick at.
We realise that we're creating something more than an orchard project. While the orchard plan remains central, we see a community developing around it, which is why we call ourselves the Highbury Orchard Community.
As the potential for something more than an orchard grew, the idea for a community-focused permaculture business took shape and we formed a Community Interest Company. We have received support from Kings Heath Transition to develop our project plan and to investigate potential business relationships with growers & food producers in retail or social enterprise, along with the involvement of artists and craftspeople.
Meanwhile we aim to expand our range of volunteers, firstly to include children and families by running programmes with schools and building child-centred spaces including a woodland playtrail.
Hopefully, other groups will follow, for example, people wanting to improve their health and well-being.
Along with the heritage focus, the site also offers scope to sustainability and localism groups like Kings Heath Transition Initiative, Urban Harvest, and many others.
Our aim is that everyone who joins us can experience the working countryside in the city. There are lots of opportunities for meaningful involvement at Highbury Orchard, and we hope you’ll come by to explore the possibilities for yourself.
Our mission statement...
Connecting people and land by caring for both.
We aslo have a Facebook page called Highbury Orchard Community.