Urban Orchard

Living in an inner city suburb more often than not trees are replaced with new buildings and extensions that take up every square metre of green space. Gone are the days we actually have the room or space to have a garden let alone something as extravagant as a veggie patch or an orchard fruit trees. However, the dream is not impossible. There is plenty of space to turn your garden into a productive landscape and, it starts by talking to your neighbours.

In the south of Spain during the Muslim occupation, the Caliphs believed that everyone in the kingdom of Al-Andalus should be fed and not go hungry. The Muslims created public gardens filled with edible and medicinal fruits, herbs and vegetables and even lined the streets planted with edible street trees. Thousands of fruiting trees lined the streets of Spain, and the community benefitted from this. Every resident was now able to indulge in fresh fruit and vegetables and preserve the excess that could not be utilised so that they could enjoy them during the year. Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from them!

And maybe some of us have. Communities all over Australia are binding together to create their own urban orchards on council verges and shared spaces. They are turning unused, vacant spaces into flourishing edible gardens to share within their communities. Not only is there the benefit of using the produce and saving a trip to the grocery store, it also presents a great opportunity to educate children on the dynamics of food production. By establishing these gardens, it encourages and binds neighbours together with their collective efforts establishing a real sense of community.

With all this in mind, I met with my immediate neighbour on how we could create our own urban orchard. The dividing fence between the two of us is old and haggard with both houses sitting 1.5 metres from the fence on a very long block. It was decided that instead of spending the money for a new fence we would join our lots (visually) and implement our own green corridor made up of edible varieties that we could both enjoy. We now have a 30 x 3-metre-long strip of fruit trees, vegetable and herbs that us, our family and friends can enjoy. The views not too bad either!