Assemble an Open Orchard team
The most successful community groups are a collaborative effort, plus, it's far more fun if you’ve got support and can share the workload! Find other interested people to help you. Rally your friends, family and neighbors. Ideally you will have a team of approx. 5 people. This way you can assign different roles to each person, including contacting your local council, researching the best fruit tree options for your location, sourcing trees, applying for funding/grants and spreading the word in the community.
Contact Your Local Council
The most important step is to get in touch with your City Council to obtain their permission to plant fruit trees in a public space and to seek their advice on where is the best place to plant. There is no point in progressing anything else until you have the full buy-in of the local council, as the location of planting will dictate the type of trees you will plant.
Choose and source your fruit trees
Once you have agreed with your City Council on a location to plant the fruit trees the next step is to decide on which type of fruit trees you will plant. Your contact there will be able to recommend which types of trees will be best suited to the location, and these resources give some additional suggestions:
Organise and hold the tree planting day
This is the best bit! Spread the word in your community - encourage people to come out to help to plant the fruit trees. Put posters up in local halls and coffee shops, spread the word on social media, let local community groups, retirement homes and schools know.
Bare root fruit trees are planted in the dormant season, usually either just after the first frost in late Autumn or in January/February (depending on the weather and location). Aim to organize a 2-3 hour session, where you plant about 10 trees- ideally with the opportunity for coffee and a chat afterwards.
Have someone to take photos- it’s a great way of showing the great stuff you’re doing. A ‘signup’ sheet is essential too- get people's names and email/phone so you can create a mailing list and add them to your ChangeX page.
For some useful tips on planting fruit trees, check out Open Orchard Co-founder Wayne Trevor's video here here.
Ongoing care by the community
This is the most important step! In order to keep your fruit trees healthy they need some care and attention from the community, especially over the first couple of years. The essential thing is regular watering in the summer months, and you may even have to water during rainy weather in the first 6-8 weeks as the roots have not established good contact with soil moisture. It is also important to keep the tree area free from weeds, as these compete for nutrients.
Organise within the group who will take responsibility for watering the trees, maybe you can make a weekly/monthly rota! Some ideas for events you can plan around the year, to keep the group interested and invested are: weeding, mulching, wassailing, blossom watching and harvesting.