The community orchard we created at New Beckton Park provides a local resource for wildlife, education and most importantly – an annual harvest of fruits and nuts! All of this has been delivered thanks to funding from Secret Cinema and Newham Council.
Traditional orchards in the UK are under enormous threat, declining by 90% since the 1950s, making them a rare asset. Besides giving us the opportunity to forage, orchards bring all sorts of benefits. By simply existing, they show us where fruits and nuts come from, how pollination works, and encourage us to use the harvest to make nutritious, delicious meals.
New Beckton Park in Newham is a mostly flat open park overlooked by houses. It’s mainly used for sports and walking, and is part of London’s Capital Ring Path, a circular 78-mile route covering some of the capital’s most interesting green spaces. To the south is London City Airport and the historical London Docklands, which stretch all the way to central London.
We decided to plant an orchard to enrich the park, and allow local communities to enjoy it for even more reasons. To do this, we embarked on a partnership with Newham Council, and started planning.
From the start, we were keen to engage with the local community to make sure we delivered something that worked for them. Residents were asked to vote for their favourite fruits and nuts, which made up the planting list for the orchard. They opted for apple, pear, plum, mulberry, gage, crab apple, hazel, medlar and quince. In April 2019, 139 local people joined us to plant the 20 fruit and nut trees including two local primary schools and one nursery.
One person told us that the best thing about planting trees was ‘experiencing togetherness of community’.
One local family said:
It was a really good activity to take part. It’s excellent that I could do this with my kids. We will come to see how our tree is growing. Nice staff, friendly and helpful. We really recommend to everyone.
Volunteers, local family
Trees for Cities has worked with Newham Council on tree planting projects since 2010, including a multi-year tree planting programme (2012-2015) in North Woolwich.