Orchard Learning blossoms again

December 21 2021

Orchard Learning blossoms again

The gnarled apple and pear trees in gardens, allotments, and established orchards are a living reminder that planting fruit trees is an act of faith in the future.
Horfield Organic Community Orchard (HOCO) is a community food project looked after by its members who are volunteers. When the pandemic made group working sessions impossible, Shannon Smith, the Orchard Learning co-ordinator, developed one-to-one sessions as the safest way to care for HOCO members and fruit trees.
“Being out doors helped,” says Shannon, “and keeping a safe distance is much simpler with one other person. We also found huge benefits when teaching complex tasks like pruning.
“Caring for mature trees - and planting new ones - are acts of resilience in the face of extreme and unpredictable weather events caused by climate change. For thousands of years humans have raised orchard trees that rely on our care to be at their best. We need fruit trees, and our fruit trees need us. Unlike people, trees cannot uproot and seek a better life elsewhere.”
Shannon has applied this experience to reshape the Orchard Learning Programme. A combination of group and one-to-one sessions will guide participants through a growing season in the rich outdoor learning environment of HOCO. Learners are partnered up with a couple of trees for the year and also enjoy a share of the harvest.
The Orchard Learning Programme is designed for people with some fruit growing experience. It’s ideal for professional gardeners, anyone involved with a community orchard or growing project that includes fruit trees, as well as keen amateur gardeners.
Deadline for applications is Friday 28 January. For more information, course dates, and to request an application pack, please go to the HOCO website: www.community-orchard.org.uk.
Contact: hocopips@gmail.com or phone 0117 373 1587.