Orchards are traditionally English. In dotting rural landscapes, they help country folk wassail their way through January and sip cider all year round. However, according to Natural England and the National Trust, 60 percent of orchards have disappeared since the 1950s. Fortunately, there are organisations seeking to stop the rot.
Set up in London in 2009, The Orchard Project is a national charity that works in multiple urban areas across the country, helping to care for, restore and harvest fruits, such as apples, pears and cherries that would otherwise go wasted.
One of the CEO’s at The Orchard Project, Neil Kingsnorth, explained that whilst bringing communities together is their main priority, they also want people to re-engage with the idea of where food comes from.
“The Community involved is the most exciting part of what the Orchard project is about,” he says. “it gives them a beneficial endeavour in their community.”
Once the fruit is collected, the aim is for it to then be distributed to the local area.
“It’s really important for people in urban spaces to have a relationship with growing food rather just eating it,” Neil continues “this means they then respect it more and make better decisions about the future of their own food.”
With the issue of waste beginning to weigh more on the public consciousness than ever before, it is refreshing to see an organisation taking a proactive approach and looking at the problem in a positive light.
“We see ourselves as part of the same story reducing waste but we’re thinking about how food can be grown differently,” says Neil, “we are a tangible example of how an organisation can grow great food in a different way.”
Like many others, Neil believes that our current food system is ‘hugely destructive in terms of its impact on climate change’, which duly encouraged The Orchard Project’s decision to launch their cider called Local Fox.
“We collected unwanted apples from people across London and turned them into cider,” he concluded. “It was then sold in shops and helped contribute towards our circular economy. When there is waste we put it to use rather than let it rot.”
Click here to read our cider recipe from The Orchard Project