What if Camden became one big patchwork orchard? What if our estates, parks, gardens and public places were planted with fruit trees?

Pretty spring blossom trailing fresh green leaves, fruit budding, slowly ripening through the late spring and summer months before becoming crunchy and pick-a-licious in the autumn?

In February as part of our Communi-tree rollout project, Think&Do, in partnership with the KOKO Foundation, Camden Council and residents planted the start of a Camden orchard. 

A total of 82 pretty apple trees, pears, plum and cherry were planted across eight sites in the Abbey and Mortimer Green estates in Kilburn.

This is just the beginning! We are now looking for more estates and public places to spread our orchard across the borough. So come on, dear reader, where can you see space around you to grow a Camden orchard?

Another wonderful aspect of our Communi-tree orchard project is that with thanks to the KOKO Foundation, we are paying five 16 to 25-year-olds living on the estates to become our ‘Camden Foresters’ to water and care for these trees, getting our young people off their screens and connecting with nature, while paying them to do so!

Ham & High: Debbie Bourne is looking for sites in Camden to plant fruit treesDebbie Bourne is looking for sites in Camden to plant fruit trees (Image: Debbie Bourne)

Before progressing with the rollout, there is one challenge to consider: before planting an orchard across Camden, quite rightly, Camden Council insists that all planting areas be tested for contaminants.

But fear not, we have a plan! We are developing a project in collaboration with Camden Council and students from the magnificent UCL Earth Science dept. Together we are exploring how we can create a ‘Soil Map’ of Camden – an open-source map which in time, all residents can refer to, to locate potential growing areas across the borough. How great is that?

We’ve heard so many lovely stories from residents about their memories of growing up around fruit trees.

There’s a nostalgia, a romance that reaches far beyond the sweet tangy bite of the harvest; a romance of wildflowers growing in and around an orchard; a trail of kids chasing the blossom, and the promise of apple pies to come.

So come on Camdeners, together let’s rewild our borough and rewild ourselves.

  • Debbie Bourne is Head of Imagination at thinkanddocamden.org.uk and author of The Eco-Romance Series. The High-Heeled Eco Worrier (out in April)