Tuesday, 28 July 2009

I am proposing to establish a Community Orchard in St Andrews and if you would like further information about this project please contact me by e-mail henrythenav@hotmail.com or 07977-131635.

The reasons for setting up a community orchard are as follows:

1. To reduce the amount of CO2 produced in St Andrews by planting 20-30 new trees.
2. Encourage local people to value the fruit they produce in their own gardens.
3. Allow people with small/no garden to help grow fruit.
4. Reduce food miles if produce is sold at the local farmer’s market.
5. Educate children in local schools about fruit growing.

Community orchards are not a new idea and Fife Council helped establish a 70 tree orchard at Newburgh and the following is copied from the Newburgh Community Orchard website.

http://www.communityfoodandhealth.org.uk/

Newburgh Orchard Group

Newburgh Orchard Group is a voluntary organisation whose activities take place in Newburgh in North East Fife. Its activities involve the picking and sale to the public of plums, apples, pears and other fruit grown in private orchards in Newburgh and the immediate area. It also organise demonstrations of tree pruning and fruit recipes. Funding was obtained for a survey which has identified over 1000 fruit trees in Newburgh including some rare varieties.

The Orchard Group has worked with local primary schools to introduce children to local fruit and fruit growing, and has worked with Fife Council to establish a community orchard of 80 fruit trees next to Newburgh Primary School. The involvement with schools aims to develop an interest in fruit growing in the young, and through their influence get their parents on board, as well as encouraging healthy eating and reducing food miles. It aims to encourage people who have fruit trees in their gardens to value their trees and look after them so that the 900-year old heritage of fruit growing in Newburgh will continue and develop.

The Group was set up about five years ago as an offshoot of the local History Society. It works with local schools, Fife Council and WECAN! (Working for Environmental Community Action Now, based in Crosshill, Fife). It has also worked with Edinburgh Community Food Initiative and with an online restaurant supplier, and has been interviewed by Radio Scotland and featured in the Landward TV programme. The Group will be collaborating with the Fife Arts Cooperative whose resident artist will develop a community project on the topic of The Land.
The Group believes that its activities will preserve the fruit growing heritage which was begun by the monks of Lindores Abbey in the 12th century, and will also have an economic benefit to the town through the sale of fruit and through related tourism.


Our annual fruit sales, based at a stall in Newburgh High Street, have increased every year in the weight and value of fruit and the number of jars of home made jam sold to the public. Most of the money from the sales is passed back to the local people who grow the fruit.
Some customers travel considerable distances to buy the plums, and they often spend money in the shops and caf├ęs in Newburgh.

The amount of fruit which is picked by the orchard owners (rather than fruit which they have allowed the Group to pick) has increased as a proportion of the total, showing that the owners are taking a greater interest. Its main activities have grown but not changed, and the Group feels that this consistency is an important factor in its success. It has achieved this growth by surprising the orchard owners with the amount of money that their fruit has earned, and by targeted press releases to local newspapers and radio just before the fruit sales.
However, the number of people who are prepared to take an active role in the Group has diminished for various personal reasons.



Its plans are therefore focused on encouraging the growers to pick the fruit themselves, so that the continued success of the fruit sales will support its aims over the longer term.
"There are many courses and environmentally related events which look very worthy but tend to be time and money-consuming. Although funding may be available, with limited numbers of people who themselves have limited time and energy, it is important to maintain focus on the principal strategy. The Group have found it very useful to know someone whose horizons are broader and who can advise and make useful contacts."
"It takes a long time for people outside the core group to take the strategy on board and to begin to work with it, so the principal strategy should be easy to understand and down-to-earth, and consistency over a period of years is very important. Getting local politicians on board can be very useful. Every opportunity should be taken for publicity to reinforce the message and show it is working, and some originality will always help."


St Andrews Community Orchard

I am planning to use Stanks Park between Lamond Drive and Kilrymont Place. A plan of the location of this park is below.


I believe this park would make an ideal community orchard for several reasons. Firstly, the park is on a slope and is not suitable for ball games and has several signs forbidding the playing of any ball games in the park. Luckily, for the local footballers there are several more suitable parks within easy walking distance. Secondly, the main users of the park are dog walkers and an extension of its use to a community orchard would not affect them. Finally, the other users tend to be local youths on their bikes or playing in the wood alongside the stream. Again they should be able to carry on their activities.

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