City’s first community orchard is a growing initiative
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