Spring to Life’s Food Forest Brum project has partnered up with Lets Grow Together to create a new initiative entitled ‘Fruit and Nut Village’. The idea is to create small networks (“villages”) of food growing sites at specific localities that will cultivate tree and other perennial food crops – primarily fruits and nuts. The first ‘village’ will be in Stirchley, South Birmingham.
The first stage of this Stirchley-based initiative will have a strong heritage focus. We are therefore being supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund (https://www.hlf.org.uk). The two year fund will help bring people together in Stirchley and surrounding areas to explore and cultivate a range of heritage varieties of fruit and nut trees, as well as species of edibles trees with historical relevance to the region. We will be growing varieties that have links with Stirchley, Birmingham or Worcestershire (as historically this is what Stirchley was part of).
The village itself will comprise a collection of growing sites which use a range of cultivation methods and approaches. Eventually, as the different sites develop, we will organise walking and cycling tours around the various projects for the public. The methods and approaches to be used include: standard orchards, forest gardens, nut groves, trained fruit trees (e.g. espaliers), and edible hedges. Within this village model there will also be at least one mother garden, which can help propagate and develop plant stock for the other sites.
We have chosen to start the first Fruit and Nut Village in Stirchley, since there are already a number of existing projects and sites that have developed tree crop cultivation. Stirchley itself is also an increasingly vibrant area with many active groups and a strong interest in local history.
Let’s Grow Together (http://letsgrowtogether.org.uk/) is a Birmingham-based organisation that carries out environmental and food growing projects in schools and communities. They have recently been involved with the Urban Orchard Project which helped to create ten community orchards across the city. We are very pleased to be working with them.