#70: Save Camberwell Green’s Community Orchard

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some photos taken on July 7 & 8, 2013, of the Community Orchard which Southwark plans to sweep away.

Camberwell Orchard - figinside Camberwell Orchard

Insect life in Camberwell Orchard

Insect life in Camberwell Orchard

Southwark proceeded through a biased consultation which asked people what kind of library they wanted, but not where it should be sited. The Orchard’s destruction was taken for granted.

“This scheme is utter, utter madness”

– Liliana Dmitrovic of the Save Camberwell Green Orchard Campaign.

An article that Southwark would prefer you not to read
. . . and why we should all show our support for Donnachadh McCarthy.
A standard tactic from councils wishing to push through unacceptable developments is to pick on one of their most outspoken opponents and to misrepresent her/him as some kind of eccentric and isolated figure whose opinions can safely be ignored. If successful, this alienates them from
the general public and may persuade some who wanted to be supportive to keep a safe distance from the situation. We are sorry to hear suggestions that Southwark has attempted to caricature Donnachadh McCarthy, veteran environment campaigner and staunch defender of the Community
Orchard, in this kind of way. The Friends of Belair Park and their allies will not tolerate such tactics, and we are asking everyone who is concerned about securing the future of open space and food growing projects to join us in rallying behind Donnachadh.

The following item was written by Donnachadh McCarthy and has been published previously by the Southwark News.

Is Camberwell Green Southwark’s Gezi Park?
In 1996, a local charity planted one of London’s first community mini-orchards in Camberwell Green. The railings were donated by Southwark Council, the notice-board by the Peabody Trust, the wooden-bench was made from recycled-wood and children from the council-estate raised the money for the fruit-trees from jumble-sales.

Here is what one kid said on the day they planted the orchard:

“I planted a blackberry bush and an apple tree with Kelly, Suraya, Shannon and Jodie. I hope it’s all grown when I grow up, with nice trees with all their pears falling off.”

Siobhan McKenzin, 10 yrs.       


The orchard has since grown and matured. Over a thousand plums and pears were harvested last year and donated to local pensioners and residents. This spring the trees again brought a burst of glorious blossom and a carpet of beautiful woodland flowers into the heart of built-up Camberwell.

Then this week to mark World Environment Day, 3 Lib Dem and 3 Labour councillors voted to bulldoze the orchard for a new library, despite a local developer offering to include one for free in their new development. To understand this, you have to realise that a different language is spoken by Southwark’s politicians and planners. When they say they will “protect” open space, wildlife and trees and provide space for local foodgrowing, they mean that they will bulldoze it whenever it suits them. When they say they will “enhance” our open spaces, it means they will build on them. When they
describe a site being a “brown-field” site, they mean a site that has been open space for over 70 years and an orchard for 17 years.

Over 200 people objected to the planning application, including Southwark Friends of the Earth and Friends of Camberwell Green. The council’s own consultation had a large majority calling for the library to be located elsewhere e.g. by the Leisure Centre where children/parents could collect their books when going for a swim.

Maybe it is time Southwark’s residents showed Southwark Council that like the residents of Istanbul we want our precious remaining little bits of greenery protected from the bulldozers also? If not, it’s the tree which Siobhan planted that will fall and not her dream of juicy local pears.

Photo shoot
Thurs. July 18, 3:00 p.m.
If you can possibly attend this
event please do. Bring a placard!

Rosie Boycott, Boris Johnson’s Food Ambassador, and Jenny Jones, Green Party AM, will visit the orchard to support local residents’ struggle to save it from destruction.

Camberwell Green Orchard is at the corner of D’Eynsford Road and Camberwell Green, by the Camberwell Magistrates’ Court, SE5.

Also coming up . . .
Guided walk
Sat. July 27, 2:00 p.m.
This walk will be led by a local artist who will take the group from Peckham to Camberwell, stopping at a number of important green spaces. Meet outside Peckham Library.

These events have been organised by the Save Camberwell Green Orchard Campaign. The Campaign can be found on Facebook. Our thanks to Liliana Dmitrovic of the Campaign for helping us to assemble information for this newsletter.

Please email this newsletter to as many other people and groups as possible.


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