If you happen to be exploring the Ridge estate in Lancaster, why not take a stroll along Ambleside Road? If you have a keen eye for plants, you will notice a number of newly planted fruit trees along the long grass verge which stretches right up to the middle of Crag Road where a number of houses display ‘Save our Field’ signs in their windows. These trees mark the start of the Ridge Community Orchard and the Ridge Hill Green, which aim to increase the availability of fresh local fruit; enhance local biodiversity by creating more wildlife habitat, and become, in time, a meeting point for community events.
The Ridge Community Orchard was planted over two days last autumn by a group of enthusiastic volunteers and school children from Central High, coordinated by Incredible Edible Lancaster. The tree planting marked the end of two years of community consultation and bid writing.
Trees were dedicated and planted in memory to local community members’ loved ones, and they became increasingly beautiful as the 2014 growing season went on. Some trees had colourful flowers planted around their bases and others became covered in knitted accessories.
Sadly, this young orchard experienced a spout of vandalism a couple of months ago which destroyed a number of the trees. But, rather than demoralising its creators, this upsetting event brought together a large number of the local community who were determined for justice and for all vandalised trees to be replanted.
This is exactly what will happen on the afternoon of Halloween- the 31st October- from 1-6pm. The Ridge Community Centre will be running an apple day and coordinating, alongside Incredible Edible Lancaster, the replacement of damaged trees. The orchard will also be expanded further.
Roughly 30 apple and plum trees have been donated by green fingered local residents, and these will be planted throughout the afternoon with the help of the community centre. This determination to proceed with the orchard, no matter what, is truly inspiring and shows just what can be done when action is taken rather than just dreaming.
Anyone is welcome to come along and help with the tree planting on the 31st, and apple themed treats will be available at the Ridge community centre to keep your energy levels high. Or, if you fancy getting more involved with Lancaster’s community food growing movement, why not take a look at Incredible Edible Lancaster’s website, www.incredible-edible-lancaster.org.uk, and come along to future project work days and events.
Where else in Lancaster could we create a community orchard? Please share ideas!