Incredible Edible Middlesbrough is working with partners and local communities on a project to grow more fruit and edible nuts for the benefit of the whole community.
Three different sites across the town have seen mixed use orchards planted. Alongside Middlesbrough Environment City, Incredible Edible Middlesbrough are working with Thirteen Housing Group, Kings Academy and the Langridge Centre planting nut and fruit trees and creating community orchards.
In the Whinney Banks area of Acklam in Middlesbrough, Thirteen Housing, one of the largest landlords in the North East kindly donated an unused area of land for one of the orchards. Members of staff from the partner organisations got together at the start of the project to plant the first trees that will provide food and an improved environment for the local community over the coming years. The orchard and nuttery includes pear, apple, cherry, hazelnut, walnut and almond trees that should begin to bear fruit within the next two to three years.
John Woods, environmental specialist at Thirteen, said: “We were approached by Incredible Edible Middlesbrough to get involved in this project and were keen to make better use of this currently unused space behind some homes we manage in Whinney Banks. “The site is approximately 2,100 square metres and we’re starting out by planting 24 nut and fruit trees that will hopefully form an attractive orchard that people in the area can enjoy.
“This will be a long-term project and any produce from the site will be shared among volunteers who have contributed to maintaining the site and with residents living around the orchard. Any surplus will be offered to nearby schools and community groups.” The orchard will help people to get involved in producing their own food and understand the food production process from seedling to plate. Once planted, fruit trees require only limited maintenance and the orchard will also be used for conservation, wildlife and the wider population of Middlesbrough.
Incredible Edible Middlesbrough secured funding for the trees by working in partnership with @treesforcities and will be working with Middlesbrough Environment City to manage the orchard. The local community will be encouraged to take ownership of the orchard through involvement on the site and taking care of the trees. General maintenance and pruning training sessions will be run to up-skill local people to care for the site in the future. Joe Dunne, from Incredible Edible Middlesbrough and Middlesbrough Environment City, said: “A lot of this project is about the process of planting, growing and eventually cooking and eating food that has been locally-sourced. As well as the benefits of the orchard itself, we will also be using the project to promote healthy and sustainable lifestyles and helping to further increase the number and diversity of woodland in our urban area. We’ve worked with Thirteen on various projects across Middlesbrough and this was an ideal piece of land that we can work on to plant trees, re-wild the area and engage with the local community.”
Twins Merrin and Meadow, aged 10, were also on-hand to help plant some trees alongside their mother Catherine Howell, who is part of Incredible Edible Middlesbrough and works with Middlesbrough Environment City on a range of projects across the area.
The project also saw Incredible Edible Middlesbrough and Middlesbrough Environment City work with King’s Academy, a large secondary school which has a significantly higher proportion of young people with Special Educational Needs (SEN) where another mixed use orchard was planted on the school site with a group of pupils. The orchard is adding more apple and pear trees to their existing small stand of fruit trees, as well as a range of edible nut trees (sweet chestnut, walnut, almond and hazel). Staff will maintain the trees as a part of their growing space, engaging pupils year on year with the project and tree management. A small hazel coppice and copse was also planted and will be used for Forest School projects with pupils.
The third mixed use orchard was planted at the Langridge Initiative Centre– a community centre located in an area of significant deprivation currently used by a charity that provides care services and activities to people with physical and mental health needs. The centre also has a community cafe, which is well used by local residents. This project expanded the existing small orchard with a broader range of edible trees, the produce from which will either be used by the cafe, or be made available to local people.
With the call to plant more trees, and the Woodland Trusts Plant a Million Trees campaign, it’s really wonderful to see Incredible Edible Middlesbrough adding both to the tree canopy across the city and increasing the urban harvest that will be incredible for the communities involved.
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