Volunteers help with the planting but more help is still needed
Despite freezing temperatures, sixteen fruiting trees were planted by residents of Mill Hill Park, Acton and others on Sunday 12th February 2012. This ‘Community Orchard’ in Heathfield Nature Gardens off Gunnersbury Lane is, in part, a practical response to dwindling oil reserves and the effects of climate change. ‘The move towards growing your own veg has really taken off’ explained Lewis McNeill from the London Orchard Project, ‘but the idea with urban orchards like these is to put in place a food resource which will last a 100 years or more. And once the trees are established, they are incredibly low-maintenance.’
Once Lewis had shown them how, well wrapped up volunteers from Mill Hill Park Residents’ Association (MHPRA), Ealing Transition, worked with pickaxes and spades, alongside others to break through the crust of frozen ground, dig square holes – round ones are bad for the roots – to plant apple, pear, and plum trees, an apricot and a medlar. ‘Planting the trees was the easy bit!’ said Ray Batchelor, Chair, MHPRA, ‘Driving stakes in for protective wire mesh – that was really hard.’
To survive, the trees now need volunteers to water them – a lot – weed and look after for the first months of their lives. This joint initiative by Mill Hill Park Residents’ Association, The London Orchard Project, and Ealing Transition was the brainchild of local resident, Martin Kunz who proposed the location. It is hoped that further trees will eventually be planted, and that Acton residents may be able to enjoy local fresh fruit for decades to come.
13th February 2012