Urban Growing

Orchard Learning Programme 2023 at Horfield Organic Community Orchard

By Shannon Smith

Shannon Smith, Publicity and Orchard Learning Co-ordinator at Horfield Organic Community Orchard shares the orchard’s new programme for 2023. There were nine participants in 2022 and their feedback was uplifting and full of praise.

Horfield Organic Community Orchard (HOCO) is celebrating 25 years as a community and fruit-growing project. Since 1998 hundreds of volunteer members have cared for nearly a hundred fruiting trees. HOCO is also raising an urban orchard for community education and horticultural experimentation. The Orchard Learning Programme, developed in 2018, is a hands-on and holistic adventure in community orcharding that guides participants over a growing season at HOCO. 

The nine-month course is designed to deepen the knowledge and sharpen the skills of those involved in the close care of fruit trees. It is ideal for growers with previous fruit growing experience, and highly recommended for anyone starting up, or involved with, an orchard. Participants work with less-than-perfect trees and learn by doing. 

‘Cidering’ apple tree roots during the orchard’s Wassail celebrations

Programme content and structure are always evolving, driven by climate chaos, and shaped by the experiences and needs of participants. The blend of group learning days and one-to-one sessions was a great success when introduced last year. All sessions take place outdoors in the example-rich Horfield Organic Community Orchard.

Successful applicants are partnered with a fruit tree – their Tree Buddy – for the year. They join with other HOCO members to help organise orchard working meetings and community events. 

Places are limited and the deadline for applications is Sunday 29 January 2023. 

Find more information on the HOCO website: www.community-orchard.org.uk 

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