Scattered Orchard – Riverside Naturally

28.06.2024 | isabella

Using their 2024 Seed Grant, Riverside Naturally ran their pilot project Scattered Orchard, in which they gave away 21 fruit trees to members of the Riverside Community.    

“We are a community group that works to develop Riverside’s open spaces in environmentally friendly ways, and a big part of our remit is engagement with the community. In order to meet future targets, Riverside will need many hundreds more trees, possibly thousands. Since it’s a good season to be planting young trees, we’d love to spark it off with this pilot scheme that could grow into a larger project.” 

“We felt the pilot project would resonate with locals: expanding on our popular community orchard, by increasing the number of fruit trees in people’s gardens. There’s already a great culture of celebrating and sharing the apple harvest in Riverside, but what folks may not be aware of is the real benefit to nature these provide – especially to the birds and other species in the food chain, but also by absorbing rainwater to improve flood resilience, providing shade, and stabilising temperature and humidity. Trees enable better growing conditions and make our urban environment more pleasant for us all, and by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, they counteract local and global carbon emissions and slow the greenhouse effect, having a positive impact against climate change. Fruit trees have particular benefits for biodiversity and contribute to food production, as well as having historical cultural significance for Stirling and the Riverside area in particular.”

“The community response was very positive about growing more trees. The successful engagement provided a platform for conversation and to share the webpage with clear messaging on the environmental benefits, referencing the challenges we faced, so getting that out there was a huge part of the key aims of the project. Of the 21 people given trees, 12 answered the question about previous experience with climate activity as either new to climate action or limited experience.” 

“We were directly supporting Treelink aims and worked closely with their members, sharing best practice and resources (such as developing our planting guide, using theirs as a template). Our project was inspired by their Free Trees for Babies, but we did ours six months later in a different season and targeted a different section of the community, and tried different approaches, so we were able to share ideas about process and tactics.” 

“Riverside Naturally trustees and volunteers are part of the community, and this project means a lot to us as positive action for addressing climate change, through helping wildlife and improving our environment in a sustainable way. More pollen and fruit for wildlife and more oxygen for our air. We promoted growing fruit trees and had so much interest about how best to approach this. Conversations touched on areas of particular importance to locals such as flood resilience.” 

“We had a lot of interest on local social media and many requests. We were able to cater for all of these, apart from ones that came from out with Riverside (though it was positive to get those enquiries) and we used every opportunity to engage with people, offering support and advice and inviting them to participate in other activities, e.g. learning how to prune fruit trees, at one of our orchard maintenance sessions. We sourced high quality trees, of 10 different varieties of apple, on 3 different rootstocks. We distributed all 21 trees (we bought 20 but they delivered an extra one) and offered advice and support with their planting and ongoing maintenance, we gave the trees and the people growing them the best chance of success. We asked people’s permission to pin their trees’ locations so we can create a map of the scattered orchard.” 

“All the Riverside Naturally trustees and some of the volunteers contributed their expertise to help make this project work. We had lots of great discussions about the priorities for growing apple trees. We found new ways of solving problems together and collaborating on writing adverts and materials. The focus on outreach and engagement was so positive it motivated us all to do achieve the best we could.” 

Click here to learn more about Riverside Naturally and discover how you can get involved.

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