A Return to Nature Is Building Real Community in Southall
When we talk about regeneration in property markets, the meaning is taken as being the redevelopment of disused land or buildings that have fallen into disrepair and, most often, become an eyesore. This property has no functional use. It is either torn down and redeveloped completely (like the massive regeneration project at Southall Waterside), or given a massive facelift and refurbished and modernised to become loved again.
But in Southall, there has been another type of regeneration taking place quietly over the last four years. It is a project that has helped to generate closer community ties and provide free fruit for Southall residents.
Welcome to the Southall Orchards Project
Community groups began taking over sections of Southall’s parks in late 2015. Residents, school children and scouts joined council park rangers to start planting fruit trees in Southall Park. Led by Southall Transition Group and Ealing Council, the old, decrepit, and overgrown rose garden was commandeered and regenerated. Nine fruit trees were planted in this first project, and these are surrounded by hedges that produce nuts and berries.
This area of the park now provides free fruit, nuts and berries to local residents. But the project didn’t stop there. With funding provided by money-raising and local business donations, the project blossomed.
The second mini orchard to be created was at Southall Recreation Grounds. This was a little more ambitious, with 45 trees and accompanying hedges in March 2017. At the time, Southall Transition’s Project Lead Mani Dhanda said, “Trees are often taken for granted, yet they are essential to our well-being. By planting orchards our communities derive a multitude of benefits. Trees absorb carbon dioxide, provide oxygen, and clean the air. Fruit and nut-bearing trees have the added bonus of providing sustenance.”
Regenerating Nature Regenerates Community
This is not the first time that the regeneration of nature has taken place here. In 2014, park rangers helped to create a ‘fruit route’ of trees and hedges between Osterley Lock and nearby Bixley Triangle. The overgrown Bixley Triangle had become a den of iniquity, a place frequented by drug users and overwhelmed by antisocial behaviour. Now it is a calm haven of tranquillity, where families and children walk and play.
Support for the Orchard Project Grows
By 2018, the Southall Orchard Project had garnered even more support, perhaps encouraged by positive results like that at Bixley Triangle.
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In March of 2018, the third orchard was completed at Jubilee Park. The scale had again jumped, with 56 fruit trees planted. By now, locals had become used to foraging in Southall’s mini orchards.
The total cost of the project was then estimated at around £20,000 to £25,000, but by June 2018 money was flooding in, as were the number of volunteers. £5,000 was awarded to the project by the Greener City Fund Community Tree Planting Grant for Phase 3 planting. A further £5,000 was donated by the Timberland/KBF My PlayGreen fund to cover all remaining project phases.
Children were becoming increasingly involved, helping to plant trees and learning about pruning and tree care. In total, 152 people were actively engaged in the project by the time it reached Phase 3.
Phase 4 soon followed, with planting taking place at Spikes Bridge Park. There is now one park left on the Southall Orchard Project’s original target list – Golf Links Estate. This could be the biggest of the orchards.
An Engaged Community Delivering Benefits for the Community
This project is a fine example of a local authority working with the local community to do good and build community. From school children to local businesses to local places of worship, the community has got behind this. Support has grown just like the fruit from the trees.
This is something that local people can see, appreciate, and even taste. And the engagement is ongoing, with committees set up to manage the orchards and tree wardens recruited on a volunteer basis from the local community. The tree wardens are responsible for caring for the trees, harvesting the fruit, and sharing it with the local community. The Orchard Project really is a regeneration gift that keeps on giving.
Southall Waterside – Harvesting a Deep Sense of Community
Community is one of the foundations on which Southall Waterside sits. A huge regeneration project, redevelopment of the old gasworks sites will eventually bear fruit of its own: new homes. Almost 4,000 of them over the next two decades.
Residents here will benefit from travel time to a train station of no longer than five minutes by bicycle. There will be a central park for all to enjoy. Properties will be set against a refurbished canal. Cycle paths and walkways will provide plenty of opportunities to connect with other parts of the surrounding area, or simply to get out and enjoy the fresh air.
Southall Waterside is 21st century living at its very best, in a location that has a real community spirit. An investment here could outperform in the medium to long term.
For more information about Southall Waterside property, contact the team at Gladfish today.
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