When Greener Leith decided to put the Children’s Orchard on last weekend’s Cockburn Society’s Doors Open programme we were hoping to get a few volunteers to do some litter picking done while others were preparing the old brick wall to the side of the orchard for a massive wall painting. We had no idea that we would receive so many visitors from all over Edinburgh, who, tempted outside by the exceptionally beautiful weather, came in droves. In the end we did a lot of work: pruned the berry hedge, cleared the weeds around the trees and generally make the place look a lot better. Despite the lack of apples and pears there were plenty of berries in the edible hedge and lots of questions asked whether haws, rosehips, rowan and elder berries were edible. They are, they just need cooking.
We also got some excellent feedback. Understandingly, people wanted to know what variety fruit is growing in the orchard. Without any labels on the trees this proved to be a difficult task, especially since all the fruit was stripped from the trees a couple of weeks ago. Although that came as a bit of a disappointment, it also confirmed that there definitely is a demand for public parks to provide fruit trees from which people can pick fruit for their own use.
Up until now it has been our policy to make the orchard as inconspicuous as possible; exactly to avoid the wrong kind of attention and this strategy has worked well. The trees are in excellent condition and now large enough to not be too susceptible to willful damage. We do however realise that the time has come to organise some proper interpretation panels – not least to let people know which fruit ripens when – and proper labeling, considering there are 100 different trees in the orchard. So wish us luck in our fundraising efforts; we aim to have a fully interpreted orchard ready in time for next year’s Doors Open event.