Apple orchards plan for Capital plots

Campaigners at the launch of the Urban Orchard Project in London. Picture: contributed

Campaigners at the launch of the Urban Orchard Project in London. Picture: contributed

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URBAN orchards are set to spring up across the Capital as part of a national scheme to grow apples in unused inner-city plots.

Organisers hope to plant up to ten apple orchards on dilapidated lots in Edinburgh beginning next year – and that the project will help to unite communities and “instil a sense of responsibility” in the city’s young people.

Community leaders in Wester Hailes said they planned to jump at the opportunity to join the Helping ­Britain Blossom scheme, which is being run by London-based charity The Urban Orchard Project.

The scheme will see 100 new orchards planted across Britain during the next two years, and will give up to 4000 people access to new skills.

The plans have already received the backing of brewing giant Heineken – and organisers are now on the hunt for community groups across the Capital and the surrounding Lothians that are keen to take ownership over their own orchard project.

David Paterson, Heineken’s head of corporate responsibility and a former Edinburgh University student, said the campaign will improve the health and wellbeing of ­residents in the city.

“Helping Britain Blossom is all about giving communities the knowledge and tools they need to make a difference on their doorstep,” he said.

“We will train local people to be orchard leaders, providing advice and support on all aspects of orchard management and provide the expert advice as well as the resources for activities to help them get the greatest benefits from their orchards.”

Wester Hailes Community Council leader John Aitchison says his neighbourhood has been “crying out” for a project like Helping Britain Blossom. “There are so many people, especially young people, in the area that just don’t get outside. They sit inside staring at screens, playing computer games, and never stop to get out into the neighbourhood and interact with others.

“A community orchard would help bring cohesion to diverse areas like Wester Hailes, and that’s something we’ve been crying out for for quite some time.”

Key focus area project leaders are looking to develop not only inner-city Edinburgh, but also parts of West Lothian like Bathgate.

The area will be part of the campaign’s trial phase, which will see up to 40 orchards planted between Edinburgh, London, Birmingham and Herefordshire during the next 12 months. Then, a second phase will take place during 2016 that will see another 60 orchards organised in Manchester, Leeds and another area that has yet to be decided.

Communities in the Lothians interested in one of ten slots for the project are encouraged to contact the Helping Britain Blossom campaign online for more information.

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com