Bethune Street Reserve - Community Orchard Proposal
Glenorchy City Council has received a proposal from Chigwell Orchard Relocation Project Inc. (CORP) and the Chigwell Child and Family Centre to allocate a section of Bethune Street Reserve in Chigwell for the establishment of a community orchard. We are currently seeking feedback from residents and stakeholders about this idea, and specifically the allocation of part of Bethune Street Reserve for the orchard.
Feedback received during this process, will guide Council decisions on establishing a community orchard at Bethune Street Reserve. This feedback, will be considered along with Council’s operational plan, available resources, and budget to inform future planning for the site.
Bethune Street Reserve is a public reserve managed by Glenorchy City Council that sits adjacent to the Chigwell Child and Family Centre on Bethune Street, Chigwell. The community orchard proposal was initiated by Mini Hogan from CORP in 2017 when discovering a private block of land containing many established heritage fruit trees, which is going to be cleared for development on Mary’s Hope Road, Chigwell. With owner approval, volunteers of CORP salvaged several trees and cuttings from the established orchard, and since then have been propagating and nurturing the trees, whilst the group have drafted plans for a new community orchard site to be established. CORP have since approached Council with the suggestion of planting a community orchard in part of Bethune street reserve in Chigwell.
What is a community orchard?
A community orchard is a collection of fruit trees planted in a public space including public parks, school yards, and on abandoned lots. These orchards are shared resources, not managed for profit. Community orchards have many benefits. They increase the public's access to healthy fresh fruit. They provide an opportunity for community building through working bees and activities. They contribute to collective mental and physical health and well-being of volunteers and visitors. They teach young people where their food comes from, and they allow ordinary people to develop organic fruit tree growing skills. Community orchards also are a place of celebration.
Why is a community orchard being proposed at Bethune Street Reserve, Chigwell?
This initiative was started by a local community group known as the Chigwell Orchard Relocation Project (CORP). Council was approached by CORP with the idea to develop a community orchard in part of Bethune Street Reserve. Trees for the proposed community orchard have been sourced by CORP from a nearby private orchard which was earmarked for development. The trees have been either directly transplanted from their original site into pots or propagated from cuttings from the original trees. The proposed community orchard in Bethune Street Reserve will have unrestricted access to all people in the community and will be maintained over the long-term by Council’s parks staff.
Who is involved in this project?
The project was initiated by the Chigwell Orchard Relocation Project (CORP) with support from the Child and Family Centre Chigwell (CFCC). Glenorchy City Council owns Bethune Street Reserve where the orchard is being proposed, and has overall responsibility for the management, safety, and maintenance of the reserve.
How will the community orchard be funded?
The project has been largely volunteer driven with generous donations of time given by community members and supporting organisations. Chigwell Orchard Relocation Project Inc. received some funding as part of the Glenorchy Community Fund.
Council can support the initial establishment of the orchard with existing resources. Fruit trees would be supplied by CORP from their stock of rescued/transplanted and grafted trees. It is envisaged community volunteers would be involved in the planting of trees at a future community event.
Who will have access to the community orchard?
The proposed orchard will be accessible to all users of the reserve. Bethune Street Reserve is a shared use site. The orchard will not be fenced, and the public will have unlimited access to visit the site. People wanting to take part in volunteer working bees at the orchard will need to be registered with CORP, or the organisation running the activity, for insurance purposes.
Will the orchard be fenced?
It is envisaged that the site will remain accessible to everyone in the community so will not be fenced.
How does a community orchard differ from a community garden?
A community orchard is an open parkland planted with fruit trees and accessible to all members of the community. As the trees grow the orchard becomes part of the park landscape, providing shade for picnics, and a place for communal gathering, and shared learning. The focus is on growing perennial fruit trees, including varieties that are often not found in local supermarkets. Council will manage the overall upkeep of the site. There may be opportunities for community members to get involved in organised activities at the orchard which may be arranged by Council, CORP or other organisations in the future.
A community garden differs in that it is often a fenced in site accessible to garden members. Community garden members are allocated a plot where they can grow predominately annual vegetables, herbs and flowers.
Who will maintain the orchard once it is established?
The overall maintenance of the reserve including the fruit trees will continue to be managed by Glenorchy City Council. There may be opportunities for the community to be involved in planned activities in the orchard that are run by Council, CORP or another organisation from time to time.
How will the community orchard impact on the current use of the reserve?
The proposed location for the orchard is on the south eastern side of the reserve, between the existing looped pathway and the storm water swale. This is largely an unused area of the reserve. There will be no impact to the rest of the reserve to the north west of the pathway. The orchard area will remain accessible to the community (not fenced), and over time as the tress grow it will become a place for picnics, community events and celebrations.
How will wildlife, pests and diseases be managed at the orchard?
The orchard will be monitored for negative impacts from wildlife, pests and diseases by Council and CORP volunteers. Council will work with CORP to implement appropriate control methods to minimise these impacts. It is proposed that whenever possible, organic gardening methods will be used in the community orchard to prevent pests and diseases.
What will happen to the fruit that is grown at the site?
The proposed community orchard is a shared resource for all members of the community. Whilst there will be fruit that is produced, this is only at certain times of the year and it is not the primary focus of the orchard. In some circumstances it may take several growing seasons for the younger trees to fruit. Picking and distribution of the fruit will be done largely by CORP volunteers with the harvest expected to be shared amongst volunteers, the child and family centre, and local community groups.
The project will provide enhanced public space for the community to enjoy. It will provide opportunities for people to be involved in volunteer maintenance activities. It will provide educational opportunities for people to learn about growing fruit trees. It will provide space for children and families to enjoy and become more connected with where food comes from.
I want to be part of this project and volunteer my time. How do I get involved?
If the project goes ahead at Bethune Street Reserve, a community orchard planting day will be arranged and promoted ahead of time. If you wish to get involved in the activities of CORP contact Mini Hogan at CORP on 0412 855 866 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec 2018-Jan 2019
• Community survey – RE: Allocating a section of Bethune Street Reserve, Chigwell for Community Orchard.
• Outcomes of community engagement finalised and Council decision on project
• Commencement of planning for on ground works
March - May 2019
• Detailed project plan developed
• Preliminary on-ground works (e.g. irrigation) to commence
• Proposed time for orchard planting
What do you think about the proposal? If you are a local resident or frequent visitor to Bethune Street Reserve tell us what you think. Please complete our survey.