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Brooklyn leads the way with orchard for all

Mar 12th, 2010 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

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PUBLIC PICKINGS: Young fruit trees in Brooklyn.

ON a Tuesday evening Brooklyn residents Mel Beirne and Kelda Hains can be found tending the fruit trees in Wellington’s only organic community orchard.

The project is about to be duplicated just five kilometres away, when Owhiro Bay community gardens at 72 Happy Valley Rd opens to the public tomorrow at 10 am.

Amber Bill, Wellington City Council parks manager, says: “There are several community gardens, and there are fruit trees growing on public land, but [Brooklyn’s] is [so far] the only community orchard of its type in Wellington.”
Fruit trees in the community orchard with the Harrison St flats behind

Fruit trees in the community orchard with the Harrison St flats behind

The orchard was planted late last year, after Transition Towns Brooklyn was granted a licence to lease a small area of land from Wellington City Council.

The ground the orchard stands on was leased to Transition Towns Brooklyn by the council for 10 years for an annual rent of $1, with a 10-year right of renewal.

So far the orchard consists of 13 trees, mainly apple and peach, but also almond and quince. Another 10 pear and plum trees are to be planted this winter.

The trees will produce fruit in three to five years’ time, and any fruit they do produce is free for the taking of local residents.

The organic trees are located on the walkway between Harrison and Garfield Sts in Brooklyn, between council-owned flats and private residences.

Mel Beirne says Transition Towns members are developing the orchard and carrying out garden projects for the community. “The first planting was done with the playcentre over the road. The kids love it.”

The orchard doens't just produce edible fare

The orchard doens't just produce edible fare

Mrs Beirne hopes the orchard will begin something that future generations can enjoy.

Transition Towns Brooklyn is an incorporated society with a focus on sustainable living and building healthy communities

The group was frustrated by the time it takes for the council to act, but happy to have support from councillor Celia Wade-Brown in advising the group in the best way to approach the council, and putting the group in touch with other people who could help.

Councillor Wade-Brown has donated plants to the project and would like to see several such gardens or orchards in each suburb.

She says these projects “build community, produce healthy local food, offer exercise, friendship, financial independence and fellowship in creating a lasting community asset”.

In accordance with city council guidelines for community gardens, adopted last September, the orchard is in an otherwise unused area, and operates on a strictly non-profit basis.

Crs Ray Ahipene-Mercer and Celia Wade-Brown planting a vine at Strathmore School last year

Crs Ray Ahipene-Mercer and Celia Wade-Brown planting a vine at Strathmore School last year

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is a student at Whitireia journalism school. He has worked in television and radio and hopes to further his experience in radio.
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