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Two girls from local primary schools holding saplings up in the air before planting them

Foraging field means fruit for all – and new wildlife habitats

School children have helped plant more than 100 fruit bushes and a micro-orchard of fruit trees in North Acton Playing Fields.

This new foraging field will provide tasty additions to picnics in North Acton during the summer months for all the community to enjoy, as well as a vital habitat for birds and insects.

A group of primary school children gather around a hole where they are helping to plant seeds and trees
Schoolchildren helping to plant the new foraging field at North Acton playing fields

It is part of local charity ARTification’s project, Edible Acton, and has been backed by funding from environmental charity The Tree Council and support from Ealing Council – including help from the council’s park rangers and its Greener Ealing service. Acton Gardening Association provided the project with locally grown fruit trees to plant.

The planting has helped to shape a new ‘nature corridor’ giving fresh life to a previously unused border on the west side of the playing fields. It is now populated with thornless blackberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries as well as a host of fruit trees – Comice Pear, Laxtons Superb Apple, Sunburst Cherry and Merry Weather damson.

Children from two nearby primary schools – Holy Family Catholic and St Vincent’s Catholic – braved cold weather over two frosty, muddy days, to carefully space out the plants and add nutritious mulch to the soil to help them grow.

Despite the plants being in their winter state, without fruit or flower, excitement was already mounting for the months and years ahead, as one pupil said: “I can’t wait to have a birthday picnic. I’m going to visit every day in the summer.”

Giving children the opportunity to eventually ‘pick-their-own’ has also proven to be a great way to spark an interest in fresh, locally available food, while also learning about the benefits for wildlife.

Five school children and a teacher standing on a playing field looking happy

Mr McCloskey, the eco-council leader at Holy Family Primary, said: “Being involved in a local project such as this has enabled our pupils to consider how they can do further work to improve the futures of others in the world; whilst leaving a lasting legacy in a small part of Acton.”

ARTification’s Edible Acton project aims to increase access to locally grown food and to growing spaces for all, as well as providing protection for wildlife in the area. The foraging field has been made by, and for, the community – being started by local school children and now placed in the care of all local residents.

Other Edible Acton schemes have so far included the North Acton community garden, an Orchard Trail across Acton and a Plant and Art Market.

If you would like to learn more about Edible Acton and get involved in growing projects, you can contact info@Artification.org.uk

Ealing Council’s climate crisis strategy includes a tree planting programme and a biodiversity action plan.

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