Orchard Pruning Training with Open Door

Cath from Open Door talking about history of green space in Bromford.

We hosted a wonderful and well-attended orchard pruning training session this morning, alongside Open Door, where we met an Ambridge House in Bromford to talk about the history of the trees in the area, as well as the new community orchard, and the pruning of the growing fruit trees.

Maps of Bromford, dating back to the 1900’s, bought by Cath Fletcher.

Cath Fletcher began the seminar by speaking to the group, of locals and TreePeople alike, about the backdrop the estate and its green space, one half still retaining relatively old trees like Bluebell Woods (where Genny Tunbridge took some members of the group after the session for a tree walk), but many were lost due to redevelopment over the years, and those that survive are over the border into Castle Bromwich. Some trees that were removed for works were replaced, but as the years unravel, the maps dating back to early 1900’s revealed the true losses of the trees.

Cath asked for introductions, and this proved that we had volunteers from all over Birmingham arrive today to talk about trees and orchards, showing the wider spread interest in nature.

Orchard Pruning Presentation

Ian McDermott followed on from Cath, by giving an Urban TreePeople© presentation about Trees in Our Towns and Cities, focusing on orchard trees in community orchards.

Planning is crucial for your orchard, as the harvesting must be decided – who, what, where, when, how, why? Who will pick them and who will eat them, what fruit species should be planted, where should the orchard be placed in the community, when does it begin and when does pruning take place, how will it be carried out, and WHY are you doing it? Why is crucial: the right tree, the right place, the right reason. Is it for fruit, juicing, greening, or the carbon ‘fruitprint’©? That’s a lot of questions to answer.

Mac used examples from his time with Walsall Council, planting a fenced and fruit-hedged orchard in the Arboretum, and an example of an edible garden seen in Phoenix, Arizona, focusing on the orchard’s design needing the ‘greatest amount of everything’. That means sunlight (like the street tree 5-faces rule), space, diversity, etc. An avenue of chestnuts was also installed in the former to encourage foraging. Horticulture considerations should always include encouraging pollinating insects, as many trees needs fertilising for the fruit to form.

Orchard Pruning: Practical Workshop

Lawrence orchard pruning.

After the presentation, Mac led the practical pruning workshop on the orchard trees outside the community centre, where everyone split into groups to have a go at pruning. Our newest BTP Trustee, Lawrence Weston, also assisted the group by giving a Winter pruning demonstration, which was a terrific way to introduce himself and the skills he brings to the TreePeople.

The sense of community that orchards can bring, no matter what purpose, is ever-present and important to remember. We wanted to thank Cath and Open Door for hosting this session with us today, and all those who attended (Including FOHHC, FOPP, FOCHP); we look forward to future collaborations!