At the end of the Allotments north of the stream at Redland Green is a wonderful wild green place, the Metford Road Community Orchard. It is steep, full of all kinds of fruit trees and bushes, has glorious views, and is home to masses of butterflies, other insect and frogs.
What’s the history of the orchard? Some years back, the five plots at the end of the allotment site had fallen into disuse. Furthest from the gate, steepest, hardest to maintain, they had become totally overgrown and littered with all kinds of rubbish. Nobody wanted to take one of these daunting plots for an allotment. The City Council arranged for the five plots to become a Community Orchard. Much back-breaking work then followed, with creation of terraces, ponds, steps, paths, the main social space (mainly for tea-drinking) and planting. Other community orchards exist in Bristol too. The Metford Road one has close links with Sustainable Redland, as does the Redland Green one on the other side of the slope.
How does the orchard work? The orchard is totally maintained by volunteers.
- Some volunteers just go along and help out from time to time.
- The signed up members share the payment of the annual allotment rental (about £12 each per year), and commit to put in at least 16 hours’ work each year, and can take home a share of the fruit.
- Communal work days are held twice a month (see below). Members turn up by about 12 noon and work through the rest of the day, usually stopping for tea, sandwiches and a chat at lunchtime. Members often go along on other days too.
- We provide most of the tools needed or you can bring your own, and members have a range of horticultural knowledge and experience from very little to lots.
- There are pruning and grafting workshops, open day picnics, apple days and other events.
Can more people get involved? Yes. During the past couple of years the membership has grown significantly. If you think you’d like to find out more and possibly become a member then do get in touch with the Orchard group (see below) and they can show you around. You do need to be aware that the site is very steep and has lots of hazards for little children. The way that members keep in touch with each other and discuss ideas and plans is partly on workdays, partly through a Yahoo group, and partly through evening meetings and their AGM.
And if you would just like to go along one workday and help, then do get in touch with the group. To join in on one of the open days – when there is a picnic or storytelling or an apple day for example – keep an eye on the homepage of the Susred website as we try and post the news there, and just go along.
How do I find out more?
- Our membership secretary can send you an information pack including how to join. Please ask via an e-mail to janbrewercbc @ yahoo.co.uk
You can go along to a workday. These are held on the first and third Sundays of the month and all are welcome. The gate to the orchard is on Metford Road between numbers 37 and 39. We tend to arrive between 11.30am and 12. If there is no one there to let you in, phone Lewis on 07906 596460 and one of us will come to the gate.
- There is a Metford Road Orchard Yahoo group which you can apply to join.