The orchard thrives in the middle of the urban area

For the past 10 years, urban permaculturist Rory Harding has cultivated a thriving food orchard in the backyard of his home on George Street. Tim Miller visits the urban orchard to find out what it is.

The last place you would expect to find an orchard is in the backyard of a Dunedin property in the middle of the city’s student district.

But that’s exactly what Rory Harding created in his home in George St.

A passion for gardening has helped Mr. Harding cover the 500m² property with around 300m² of edible plants – from heirloom apples and feijoas to kiwis and plums, all organic. “The main focus is on fruits and everything we can do underneath, so green vegetables, herbal remedies and other green vegetables that support tree growth in one way or another.”

Concrete walls and fences around neighboring properties protect the orchard from southerly winds, creating a nanoclimate

“It’s a big part of its success, I think, alleviating the cold rather than trying to turn up the heat.”

A rainwater harvesting system meant that even during dry periods, the orchard received sufficient water.

Yields vary from year to year. Feijoa trees can produce up to 200 kg of fruit per year, and what is not eaten by the family or stored is distributed.

“A common performance question is self-sufficiency and we’re nowhere near and expecting to be in an area the size of this.”

Mr. Harding, who works in an organic garden, also runs workshops and orchard tours to teach others how to grow edible plants.

His advice to other budding urban gardeners and orchards is to adapt, to really understand what you are planting and why.

“Don’t get carried away or whimsical at first, but if you have room for a vegetable patch, you can plant fruit trees in that space and eventually let it dissolve into a more naturalistic system, if that’s what you want. want. ”

As weather conditions change, due to the effects of climate change, it will be more important than ever to adapt, said Harding.

“Staying adaptable will be very important and having foods that are growing on the edge of our environment right now, so when they can grow we already know how to do it.”

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