By Izzy Woodcock (Committee member of the Sustainability Society)
ARU’S Sustainability Society Becomes a Change Agent
The community of Cambridge has come together as part of an exciting new collaboration to create the first orchard at North Cambridge Academy.
The initiative was set up by ARU’s Sustainability society with the aim of enhancing the connections between Anglia Ruskin students and the local community, as well as enabling sustainability at a local scale in Cambridge. The project is being made possible by a grant from Change Agents UK, an organisation that supports university students with a passion for making a difference to their local environment and community. The onsite orchard will consist of 9 fruit trees, chosen and planted by Year 7 pupils at North Cambridge Academy, and nurtured by the school. The project is a true community endeavour, with students receiving a 25% discount on the cost of the fruit trees from local garden centre, Scotsdale, and a donation of 12 posts (required for stabling the trees) from Cambridge’s Midsummer Common Community orchard. The planting will take place during the months of February and March, as this is the optimum time for tree planting.
“I know that lots of different activities happen at the school every day, and that it is a central point for many local communities” commented Emilia Idziak, Vice President of Anglia Ruskin’s Sustainability society.
“The orchard will be a great way to promote sustainability, natural healthy snacks, wildlife, biodiversity, gardening skills, and the benefits that gardening can have for mental health to families that live locally.”
From the outside, Cambridge might appear as a thriving city, but poverty is a huge problem here. With many families without a garden and living in flats, the orchard will provide a green space to connect young people with the environment, and will help to enrich the lives of students at the school.
The simple act of planting several trees in an otherwise bare plot of land can have years of benefits, providing continuous education for generations of students who pass through the school. The trees will produce an abundance of seasonal fruit, as well as helping to facilitate young people’s learning about nature in their community. One tree can be home to a huge array of living organisms and can support its own mini-ecosystem. It is hoped that the orchard will become a key feature of the school, with students learning about sustainability as they take care of the trees.
In a world where green spaces seem to be decreasing at a rapid rate, the addition of one small orchard might seem overshadowed by other negative reports on the state of the environment. Yet, for the Sustainability society, the best way to change the world is to start by setting the example in your own community; by supporting a generation of young people to care for nature, they are certainly living up to this aim and proving themselves to be inspiring change agents in the process.