The Orchards Path

Community Orchards Handbook

Common Ground is publishing the Community Orchards Handbook in Spring 2008.

Drawing on twenty years of championing orchards and the experiences of many people who have created Community Orchards, The Handbook offers philosophy and practical advice to those inspired to become Community Orchardists.

Common Ground wants Britain to be a prominent fruit growing country once again for environmental, aesthetic, social, cultural and economic reasons, and believes that Community Orchards can help spearhead a revival.

Since 1992 when Common Ground initiated the idea of Community Orchards, hundreds have been established throughout the country. They are places where top fruit are grown by and for local people. They provide fruit to share and places to enjoy and show how well we can live with nature as a friend and collaborator.

Community Orchards can offer places for quiet contemplation and centres for local festivities such as wassailing and Apple Day. They act as carbon sinks, reservoirs for local varieties of fruit (there are over 2,000 varieties of apple alone), and refuges for all manner of wild life. Community Orchards can help to reinforce local distinctiveness as people band together to save vulnerable old apples, pear, cherry, plum and damson orchards, or plant anew to help counteract the massive loss of orchards – 63% have gone from England alone since 1950.

At a time of unprecedented alienation from nature and knowledge about where our food comes from, Community Orchards are reviving interest in fruit growing. They provide a way to share knowledge and horticultural skills and stimulate us into growing our food again. In the face of climate change, the need to reduce food miles makes the provision of locally grown food ever more urgent.

In orchards, we and nature together have created an exuberant and a secret landscape – a treasury of genetic diversity and a repository of culture. They are a wise way of sharing the land – a positive gift to those who follow.

The Community Orchards Handbook

A5 spiral bound, 226 pp

Chapters include: Orchards and Local Distinctiveness, What are Community Orchards? The place of orchards in our landscape and culture, How to start, Planting a Community orchard, Adopting an old orchard, Conserving and attracting wildlife, What to do with the harvest, Celebration, Safeguarding your orchard, Orchard fruits and wild fruits.

Appendices include: Choosing the right legal structure for your Community Orchard, Model Constitution, Draft Tenancy Agreement, Orchard groups and support organisations, National contacts, Nurseries and equipment, Fruit identification, Funding ideas and sources, Bibliography.

It comprises:
90 colour photos by Common Ground and Community Orchardists.
Illustrations by Brian Grimwood and Charles Raymond.

Written by Angela King & Sue Clifford with additional material from Gail Vines and Tamara Essex, research by Kate O’Farrell and technical help from Darren Giddings.
Designed by David Cecil Holmes and Toby Holmes.
Printed on Take 2 Offset 100% recycled paper, FSC certified, by Severnprint.

Copies will be available by post from Common Ground, £10.00 + £3.00 p&p,
or by PAYPAL from our website market place:

With thanks to all the Community Orchardists who have shared knowledge, information and their experiences with us, and to our funders: DEFRA, The John Ellerman Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, The Headley Trust, The Sheepdrove Trust, The Tedworth Trust and others.

If you have a Community Orchard, please let us know, email
info [at]