Have you ever tasted a London Pippin, a Merton Joy or a Hounslow Wonder? Did you know that Heathrow used to host vast orchards all around?
London was once full of fruit, as this London Orchard Project map of the city's orchards as late as the 1890s shows. The Project aims to rediscover and restore what remains of our orchard heritage and to work with local authorities, park users, schools and other groups to create new community orchards in London’s unused spaces to help, as they say:
"Address the city’s allotment shortfall, promote community production and ownership of fruit, and help us rediscover the pleasures of eating fruit grown close to home. Community orchards also green the urban environment and create habitats for wildlife."
So far, the London Orchard Project has planted 23 community orchards of approximately 10 trees each (marked in green on the map of London's current orchards).
These have included apples, pears, plums of new and heritage varieties, and the odd experimental mirabelle, apricot and peach. Some of these are in public parks, such as Green Gate Common in Haringey, Caledonian Park in Islington, Archbishop’s Park in Lambeth or Nursery Row Park in Southwark and Haggerston Park in Hackney. Go along, they say, help out, perhaps, come harvest time, even help yourself to one of London's heritage apples.