Old Catton Orchard

Oakfield Community Orchard in Old Catton

In March 2022 residents and members of the Old Catton Horticultural Society took part in a community planting event to create a new community orchard on part of the Oakfield site in Old Catton with a Broadland Community Tree Grant.

A new orchard of 30 trees was planted – with all the trees of different varieties. This included: 13 apple, 6 plum, 6 cherry, 3 pear, 1 quince and 1 medlar.

An edible, native hedgerow was planted around the boundary of the orchard helping to define the area but promoting easy access with lots of gaps for two and four legged users of the park.

The project aimed to create a new community resource, with well-being and community engagement in mind, in an existing amenity green space which is surrounded by houses and close to a local infant school, pre-school, doctors surgery and scout hut.

Biggest success

Community engagement, enthusiasm and a sense of ownership is one of the most pleasing outcomes. Unfortunately there wasn’t much time to promote the project within the community before the planting took place.  However, the planned ‘after care’ of the trees and hedge has spontaneously developed as being as much about a sense of the community’s enthusiasm for their new orchard as watering and mulching. This has ranged from the offer to use a local resident’s outside tap to make watering easier to a general sense of community “orchard watch” amongst the many people already making use of the open space and valuing the new feature. 

Old Catton Orchard 1


Watering the orchard and hedges through a particularly dry April created an opportunity for some creative problem solving! Volunteers found re-using plastic milk bottles to be ideal water carriers, filling up the boot of their car.

Old Catton Orchard 2

What was learnt

There were some concerns about possible damage to the newly planted trees and hedge but these have proved unfounded as the project has been embraced by the community. This wouldn’t mean doing anything different, but perhaps daring to be more positive in planning!

Of course, enjoying the harvest from the orchard in future years is another activity the community is looking forward to.

A top tip

A related top tip is planning for the use of the planted project: the team intentionally left gaps in the hedge to make sure the orchard was welcoming and accessible from all sides, and to allow children and dogs to use these gaps rather than making their own over time!

Broadland District Cllr Karen Vincent, Member for Old Catton and Sprowston West helped to fund the project with ward funding and helped out on the day as a member of the Horticultural Society. She said:

“It’s a lovely project that has really brought the community together, both during the tree planting and with the aftercare of the mulching and watering. It’s already a really valued asset and will continue to be enjoyed by the community for many years to come future.”

What’s next

The community engagement means extended the orchard is on the agenda with more trees, bulbs and rewilding and/or signage and seating – responding to ideas from the community as well as the team’s own ideas.

Of course, enjoying the harvest from the orchard in future years is another activity the community is looking forward to.

Old Catton Orchard 3