The Alexandra Park Food Forest has scooped a £500 prize after the park's community orchard was named one of the best in the UK - and the only one in Scotland to win an award.
The project was awarded second prize after entering the Helping Britain Blossom Community Orchard Awards earlier this year. Judges praised the team behind the food forest for its fantastic community engagement, scale and ambition in establishing the orchard, as well as having a clear vision for its future.
The 1.2-acre Alexandra Park fruit and nut orchard or 'food forest' as locals have nicknamed, was created in 2016 by the community, for the community as a public space for all to enjoy and reap its social and environmental benefits - including free fruit and nuts for all. Helping Britain Blossom, a partnership between HEINEKEN and The Orchard Project, has provided the expertise, training and trees as part of an initiative to create and restore community orchards across Britain.
Alexandra Park Food Forest has recently secured Community Interest Company (CIC) status for the project, enabling it to be run as a social enterprise and apply for funds in order to develop the site as an educational resource. They already run a number of community events including family days, harvest celebrations, pruning training, volunteer days and wildflower planting.
Clementine Sandison, one of the directors of Alexandra Park Food Forest and local resident, explains: "It's such a boost to have won a prize in these national awards which raise awareness of the fantastic social, environmental and health benefits of community orchards.
"This award win not only recognises the hard work of the hordes of volunteers who established and now look after the food forest on a regular basis, it also comes at an important time as the food forest enters a new chapter and requires more financial support. The recent CIC status means that we can now expand what we do by employing staff to help us fully engage with the local community, run education workshops, hold more events such as wildlife activities and cookery sessions, as well as increase awareness of the importance of biodiversity within the orchard. We're excited about the future of the food forest and where it will take us."
The team has been working closely with the city council throughout the community orchard's establishment. Councillor Anna Richardson, Glasgow's City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, said: "This is great news. Everyone involved in this project should be very proud of what they have achieved. The Alexandra Park Food Forest has been a great success, bringing the local community together and is a good example of how working together can bring real benefits to local people. It's certainly something we hope to see more of."
Fergus Walker, Glasgow project manager for Helping Britain Blossom said: "We're delighted to present this prize to Alexandra Park Food Forest, in recognition of the team's efforts in creating an orchard that is a wonderful asset for the whole community to enjoy and benefit from.
"Community orchards have so much to offer, whether environmentally or socially, bringing people together to create green spaces and build healthier, happier and more sustainable communities. Which is why Helping Britain Blossom is sharing their magic across the UK by helping local people create, restore and access orchards."
Alexandra Park Food Forest was the only community orchard in Scotland to win an award. First prize was awarded to an orchard in Greater Manchester, Platt Fields Park, and Killingbeck in Leeds won third prize in the inaugural Community Orchard Awards.
For further information follow Helping Helping Britain Blossom on Facebook @HelpingBritainBlossom or email the team at Fergus@theorchardproject.org.uk