The Children’s Organic Orchard joins the One Tree per Child movement.
Stephen Parsley, of Red House Farm Woodwalton has planted a new orchard of more than 200 trees on ten acres of his organic farm a part of the One Tree Per Child program, which was started in Australia by Olivia Newton John and has just begunwork in Bristol as part of their European Green Capital year.
The simple concept involves local organisations committing to plant a tree for each child living in the area. Stephen hopes to team up with local schools and voluntary groups to give each child a tree to plant or watch grow and visit over the years, particularly at blossom and harvest times.
For maximum biodiversity the organic orchard will consist of 25 tree and shrub species including; fruit, nut, timber, berry and some which are ecologically valuable. The fruit trees will aim to preserve local heritage varieties of; apple, pear, gage, cherry, quince and medlar. Walnut, hazelnut and sweet chestnut will feature varieties from further south to allow for the effects of climate change. Many types of more unusual edible berries such as Jostaberry, which is a cross between gooseberry and black currant, will create a low canopy beneath the fruit trees and the much taller trees such as Oak and Walnut. (Small leaved lime is particularly bee friendly as it produces huge amounts of pollen. Bat boxes will be put in because bats predate upon Codlin moth which cause damage to apples).
The diverse range of edible; fruits, nuts and berries will contribute towards a highly nutritious and potentially balanced diet, all produced in one field. As production from the orchard increases, Stephen hopes to provide produce for organic baby food, for which more and more parents are demanding.
The rows of trees will be 28 m apart to allow for a clear airflow to reduce disease risk as no pesticides are used in organic systems. Fertiliser will not be needed because nitrogen- fixing trees such as Alder are included. The trees are 4m apart in the row and the row is planted on a 4m wide strip of white clover and wild flower mix, for the bees. Organic wheat oats, beans and spelt will then be grown in a rotation in the alleyways between the tree strips which will also be grazed by sheep, chickens and geese. An oak and a holly seedling were blessed at the winter solstice celebration at Moonhenge and it is hoped that the orchard will become a place to hold summer events amongst the trees.
Visitors will be invited to nominate a tree for their child. A small ceremony will take place as planting starts, based on the Children’s Fire idea.This is an ancient way of group decision making and committing to action, still practised by indigenous peoples today, based on natural law and wisdom passed down the generations.
A small fire is lit, around which a Council of 4 men and 4 women,representing different perspectives, discuss and commit to a decision bearing in mind the outcome for children, and the offspring of all other species, for 7 generations to come. That could be two hundred years into the future and at Moonhenge the oak trees should still be standing.
The orchard is part of a wider vision to create a sustainable community at Moonhenge, growing food, producing power, providing ecologically designed accommodation and bringing people together in a celebration of life. Trees play a key role in the biological life of planet Earth and have always been an important part of our spiritual life. As Tagore, a late Bengali Nobel Literature Prize winner wrote, “Trees are the Earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heavens”.
A range of events and courses will be run in the summer for those interested in sustainable food production, the spiritual aspects of food and links between soil, and human nutrition and health.
To stay informed or plant one of the trees for a child please email [email protected]