Introducing the Brixton Orchard, a public green space with 35 fruit trees & hundreds of edible hedges, showcasing how fruit trees can be integrated into urban spaces. Click here to sign up for our free workshops & volunteering sessions.
By growing fruit trees, we reconnect people with food growing & spark curiosity about the amazing diversity which cannot be found in shops. Unique apples with red flesh & juice, sweet cherries, sour cherries, damsons, plums, quince, mulberry & pears grow here, chosen to celebrate the amazing heritage & deliciousness of European fruit.
The timing of this orchard is fitting, as you may have read that the intersection of Brixton Road and Coldharbour Lane broke the EU legal limits on nitrogen dioxide (NO2) 120 hours into 2017, making it the most polluted road in London during the first week of January that year.
Green space can help alleviate different types of emissions mostly through carbon sequestration, the process trees use to absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen into the air. Nitrogen dioxide is a traffic-related pollutant and can be intercepted by tree cover, removing it from the air and reducing it in the immediate vicinity.
The Orchard has been commissioned and funded by the Brixton Business Improvement District and has received funding from the Mayor of London’s Air Quality Fund. The trees were selected by the Open Orchard Project, who have collaborated with us to design the space and coordinate the works.
Brixton Orchard aims to spark ideas and start discussions about how we can reconnect people with their food.
Every week we host volunteers on site, to care for the trees, wildflowers, edible shrubs & biodiversity found here.
Over 500,000 people pass the Orchard every day on buses. We hope that by providing a little extra bit of greenery, & showing what is possible even in the heart of London, we lift the spirits of some of those people staring out from behind the glass.
In the winter of 2018, we were graced with a pheasant on site, who was clearly out of his comfort zone. But it was nonetheless inspiring to see such a quintessentially countryside inhabitant on our little patch of wild in Brixton.
The tree guards are made from sweet chestnut trees, which are sustainably coppiced using traditional techniques. This means the tree remains alive after harvest, and it actually lengthens the life of the tree, by removing old, heavy wood that can host disease or be ripped off during storms. It also helps to regulate the forest, clearing space & allowing in increased light in regular succession phases.
We have even been graced with impromptu wassailing from the Brixton Tatterjacks Morris Dancers. This is a perfect example of how enriched public space like this becomes a magnet for local communal activities which bring people together & improve wellbeing.