City’s first com­mu­nity or­chard is a grow­ing ini­tia­tive

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FEATURES - BY NEIL DRYSDALE

She has made her rep­u­ta­tion from the fruits of her labours.

And lead­ing ad­vo­cate for gar­den­ing for eat­ing, Pamela Warhurst, yes­ter­day opened Aberdeen’s first com­mu­nity or­chard at the Countess­wells de­vel­op­ment in the city.

The spa­cious fa­cil­ity will pro­vide a source of lo­cally and or­gan­i­cal­ly­grown fruit and herbs, in­clud­ing ap­ples, pears and plums, which will be cared for and picked by the res­i­dents them­selves.

Ms Warhurst, who founded vol­un­tary en­ter­prise In­cred­i­ble Edi­ble, planted the in­au­gu­ral trees within the walled or­chard and, obliv­i­ous to the ar­rival of Storm Caro­line in the north-east, voiced her en­thu­si­asm for the ven­ture.

She said: “Cre­at­ing an edi­ble land­scape isn’t just about rein­vent­ing a sense of com­mu­nity in the mod­ern world, it is about learn­ing new skills, giv­ing peo­ple an out­let to be cre­ative, and get­ting con­nected with our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

“When we started In­cred­i­ble Edi­ble, we didn’t ask any­one’s per­mis­sion to cre­ate com­mu­nity gar­dens, we just did it.

“Peo­ple, plan­ners and lo­cal author­i­ties are now see­ing the mul­ti­tude of ben­e­fits which these places can bring and it is fan­tas­tic to see that ini­tia­tives like the Countess­wells or­chard are be­ing planned as part of new de­vel­op­ments.

“By putting food sites at the heart of a town, ev­ery­one can see where their food comes from, be in­volved, and have a sense of pur­pose.”

Ms Warhurst has been the cata- lyst for the cre­ation of a na­tion­wide move­ment, with 80 groups scat­tered across the UK, and these eclec­tic ini­tia­tives have trans­formed com­mu­ni­ties by “plant­ing up the pub­lic realm”, through cre­at­ing edi­ble gar­dens for and man­aged by res­i­dents.

These have in­volved peo­ple of all ages and back­grounds and it’s hoped there will be a sim­i­lar suc­cess story in Aberdeen as the Countess­wells project pro­gresses in the years ahead.

Al­lan McGre­gor, project di­rec­tor at the new com­mu­nity, which will even­tu­ally com­prise 3,000 homes, a sec­ondary school and two pri­mary schools and a va­ri­ety of re­tail and health­care ameni­ties, ex­plained the or­chard’s ori­gins.

He added: “It was con­structed us­ing ex­ist­ing stone re­cov­ered from the land, in­clud­ing re­claimed stone which was taken from the old sta­ble build­ings that pre­vi­ously oc­cu­pied the site.

“By pro­vid­ing res­i­dents with a place where they can grow, pick and re­plant their own food, we are pro­mot­ing a sense of com­mu­nity spirit and sus­tain­abil­ity.”

The cer­e­mony was at­tended by Coun­cil­lor Martin Greig, who wel­comed the scheme.

He said: “The com­mu­nity or­chard is a wor­thy ini­tia­tive and one which the city coun­cil is thrilled to sup­port.

“Countess­wells res­i­dents will now have a source of lo­cally-grown food avail­able on their doorstep and play a part in lit­er­ally grow­ing their com­mu­nity.”

To date, 46 pri­vate homes and 85 af­forable prop­er­ties have been con­structed by the Ste­wart Milne Group and other house­builders have also started to build homes at the site.

Al­lan McGre­gor, project di­rec­tor at Countess­wells, Pamela Warhurst CBE, founder of In­cred­i­ble Edi­ble, and coun­cil­lor Martin Greig

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