Welcome to Highbury Orchard Community!
What, Where, Who, and How?
Some of the clues are in the name: an orchard community, which is making a community orchard, in a neglected corner of the Highbury estate (formerly Joseph Chamberlain’s Birmingham home). The orchard is tucked away in a corner next to Highbury Park, one of south Birmingham’s larger open spaces. You’ll find the orchard by walking through Highbury Park as set out below, or by locating 90 Queensbridge Road, B13 8QG, and walking down the old farm track.
The orchard project is mainly managed by Liz Wright and David Papadopoulos, with lots of input from a group of regular volunteers, plus Park Rangers, local beekeepers, educationalists (forest school, mainly), permaculturists, bodgers, neighbours and passers-by.
We run the orchard partly as a volunteer project, and partly as a service activity for a variety of specific groups, including woodland play activities for chidren, Forest School for All Ages with adults, particularly those with mental health, wellbeing, or recovery interests. Some of those activities provide bits of income. Sessions are either by arrangement or open to all. There are set work sessions open to all on the first and third Sunday of each month, and a combination of drop-in and bespoke woodland play sessions most Wednesdays.
Thinking of coming out to one of our sessions?
Where to find us
Open Orchard meets each month on 1st and 3rd Sundays, and Stick Around meets on alternate Thursdays. Please see our facebook and website postings for dates. Both activities meet up at the Orchard.
The Wednesday groups for families meet at the play area. Down to Earth for home educators is from 1:30 to 3:30 and Woodland Play Club for after the school day is from 3:45 to 5:00. Both groups meet in term-time only, but we run at least one special holiday session per school break too.
For general or specific queries, you can contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org / 0121 628 2680. Please ask to join our Orchard or Woodland Play mailing lists (or both!) for regular reminders and updates.
If coming by bus, the 50 / 35 will drop you off at Valentines Road. Walk back a few yards and cross the busy junction into the High St entrance for the park.
If coming by car, enter the park at the junction of Shutlock Lane/Dads Lane and park in the designated carpark.
Either way, you are now on the main path which stretches between carpark and High St.
First find the play area by walking along this path into the park. Soon you will see the Henburys wall, a triangular “stone” dome in the open green space, and an incoming path. This is the Henburys play area.
To find the Orchard, turn your back to the wall and walk along the incoming path. Follow it along a line of mature trees. Turn right at a dirt track which leads to the brick floor at the top. This is the Orchard meeting spot.
We are a whole hive of different kinds of people! At the Community Orchard sessions we are volunteers of all kinds and all ages (though mostly adults). At the Forest Education sessions on Wednesdays we are families with children from pre-school up to about aged 10. On Thursdays we are adults from many places, some with mental health difficulties from Kinmos, CRI, Positive Mental Health and Creative Support. The Foraging Necklace sessions (including conservation events) have included the groups mentioned above plus teenagers from The Challenge.
Our board meets in Kings Heath on the 2nd Wednesday of alternate months. It consists of the company directors, including team leaders and a Park Ranger, plus others who take a keen interest. Please contact Liz or David on email@example.com or phone 0121 628 2680, if you would like to attend.
We are based at Highbury estate, in Moseley, formerly the Birmingham home to Joe Chamberlain and his family. Our main focus is at the Orchard, but we use various parts of the park as well for outdoor education and conservation events. Our projects create very little footprint on the land, and are always in collaboration with the Park Rangers. We embrace and promote the historic value of Highbury and hope to do more focused activity around this in the future.
At our forest garden Orchard, we grow fruit trees (some heritage apple, other apple and pear), soft fruit and perennial herbs. A children’s community garden straddles the orchard, a family gathering space and the playtrail which leads to the play area. We are setting it up with plants chosen to appeal to children, starting with a pumpkin patch and a raised bed called a keyhole garden. It also includes some play structures: a swing, climbing logs, and a willow retreat … and more will follow!
In the park we care for stands of willow and hazel, and are in the throes of planting a mix of British native tree seedlings donated by the Woodland Trust, in various places. Near the Orchard we are creating a wildlife pond with British native pond plants in and around the edge – so far yellow flag, lady’s smock, creeping jenny, marshmallow and soapwort are waiting to go in.
Highbury Community Orchard CIC is a not-for-profit community interest company limited by guarantee, aiming to bring people into real contact with Nature and offering different ways of doing so. The projects work together as a practice underpinned by Permaculture principles, and these culminate in forest school experiences for people of ALL sizes and ages with benefits for both people and land. We’d love to enable people to spend long periods of time outdoors, rather than just an occasional or cursory visit – but for now, anything that increases that connection with Nature is a bonus!
This is the website for the social enterprise Highbury Orchard Community CIC. We opted for a simple and hopefully memorable web address instead of the obscure hoccic.org.uk, or the overly long highburyorchardcommunity.org.uk.
(The orchard website was originally hosted by Highbury Community Partnerships (hicopa.org), which is why you might see orchard.hicopa.org when you look at some links.)
So, here we are!
The website mainly has three sorts of content: blogposts, and project pages. There are also pages explaining our mission, and links to other resources. We have a few photos here, but most of them are on a flickr account.
There are four distinct project pages: for the Community Orchard, the Foraging Necklace, Forest Education and the Orchard Marketplace. These are listed in a drop-down list under the About… menu when you hover over it. The pages are also listed down the right-hand side of each page. We also have a mailing list for bulletins that we send out before most events. You can subscribe by contacting us on firstname.lastname@example.org. We generally send out a mailing every couple of weeks.