"The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time to plant a tree is today"- Chinese proverb
The Open Orchard Project connects communities through fruits and the planting of fruit trees in public places. These trees provide free fruit to local residents and greenery to our urban environments. Open Orchard started in London, England but the idea is just as relevant elsewhere so we love to see Open Orchard groups start up and plant fruit trees on public land across many more cities.
The environmental effects of planting trees takes time. A newly planted tree will offer some extra pollination opportunities and absorb a small amount of carbon dioxide and additional rainwater that might have gone into drains, however year on year, these positive effects increase as the tree grows.
Since the fruit trees are planted on public land it is necessary to have buy-in from the local council, but for the project to really be sustainable, engaged communities need to act as the custodians of the trees. The project can give neighbours the opportunity to meet properly for the first time, while working towards a common goal with a sense of purpose. In many areas, especially urban ones, this can be very important. Even if neighburs move away from the area the trees will live for 20-30 years - and remain a shared connection and legacy.
The fruit harvested from the trees can provide the community with a new source of fresh food. It can be eaten raw or used to produce other products (which in years to come could be an opportunity for a social business).