I originally began visiting the orchard at Paddock because it felt good to be outside during the first Covid lockdown in Spring 2020. The apple trees were quite overgrown so I began clearing brambles and enjoyed being among nature and listening to the birds.
Having a physical presence there sparked curiosity in people when they were passing and we chatted – about the trees, the pandemic and the neighbourhood. Soon after it became a community of people who are interested in the orchard.
By October that year I’d started a WhatsApp group. It’s only a small group of about 9 people. Some are very local to the orchard, and others from a mile or two away. We’ve managed to get together on site a couple of times to do some winter pruning and bramble clearing. All in a socially distanced way!
Having a group of people actively interested means we can begin to think about what things might look like in the longer term and we can increase our activity.
I tried previously at another orchard to get people interested, but without much success. The beauty of this one is that it’s on a busy walking route, so lots of people have an interest in the space. The site’s visibility to the nearby school and passing traffic really helps.
The group is mainly people over 30 years old, but we welcome anyone who would like to come and join us, regardless of age.
Thank you to Richard for sharing this story after participating in one of our “How can more people come together to make local places better?” online workshops for Kirklees citizens.