New funding means more activities for residents at community orchard in East Brighton
by Sarah Davenport
There’s been lots of activity up at Racehill Orchard in Whitehawk over the past few months and it’s set to continue with new funding for activities and biodiversity workshops.
Racehill Orchard launched back in January 2013 after a huge 88% of respondents to a community consultation said they would like an orchard on the previously under used allotment site. After lots of assessments the plans for the orchard were agreed by the environmental impact assessors and a local community group got stuck in.
The great thing about orchards is that while they are designed to provide us with fruit they also create a special ecosystem which can favour all kinds of wildlife. The fruit, tree bark, scrub, grass and hedges all provide food and shelter for an intricate web of life.
Since 2013 Brighton Permaculture Trust have taken over the management of the site and used their extensive experience to oversee the planting of hundreds of fruit trees and native hedgerow species; leaving something for the future generations to enjoy.
For now the tree planting has finished, and while care of the trees and maintainance of the orchard continue, there is now an opportunity to develop the biodiversity of the site and make it into a cherished community space.
Working in partnership with Brighton Permaculture Trust we have managed to secure two amazing funding bids from The Postcode Local Trust* and The People’s Health Trust. These two streams of funding have enabled us to plan lots of exciting projects, like creating a pond and new wildlife habitats as well as organising activities and events for the local Whitehawk community.
The first of the Postcode Local Trust biodiversity sessions will be happening on Sunday 20 November from 11am-3pm. Seed collected from other parts of our downland will be planted. Wildflowers such as Horseshoe Vetch and Dropwort are favourites with downland butterflies and bumblebees which in turn help to pollinate the fruit trees. If you’d like to help at this session and learn about local wildflowers you can sign up here.
The People’s Health Trust funding has meant our Racehill team and members from the Whitehawk community recieved specialist training with community charity Citizens UK to learn more about engaging with the local community. James, the Citizens UK trainer, practised techniques with the group and they left feeling empowered and motivated to create the change that the community wants.
Some of the orchard volunteers have already come up with some great ideas to keep the planning team busy and the hope is to work with local groups to create activities that can be used by people from across the community. If there’s anything you would like to see happening up at Racehill (maybe workshops, community events, family days etc.) or know of any people or groups who might like to get involved, please email the team.
Racehilll Orchard is a fantastic community resource and a great place to meet people, learn some new skills as well as share ones you already have. No commitment is needed and you can just come along whenever you are able to make it.
If you’d like to keep up to date with the volunteering opportunities, events and biodiversity workshops at Racehill you can keep an eye on the website or sign up for the weekly newsletter register for the sessions & events.
Whether or not you have the time to get more involved, the combination of these two projects is sure to create a beautiful biodiverse community-led space that you will be able to enjoy in your spare time long into the future.
*Postcode Local Trust exists to fund community groups and charitable organisations through a variety of grant giving programmes. To do so, the Trust relies solely on funding from the proceeds of tickets sales from People’s Postcode Lottery. When you sign up to play People’s Postcode Lottery, your postcode is your ticket. It costs £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. A minimum o27.5% goes directly to charities across Great Britain and internationally.