Manchester City Council

Time is ripe for urban orchard on former Stagecoach depot site

Land which was the hundred-year home to a bus depot in Moss Side will be turning over a new leaf as it’s turned into a community orchard this weekend (27-28 April).

Stagecoach Manchester ended its century-long association with the Princess Road site in August 2011, when it moved to new purpose-built premises on the Sharston industrial estate in Wythenshawe.

The land was acquired by Manchester City Council, who invited the community to make suggestions for a ‘meanwhile’ use of the land, while its long-term future was discussed.

This prompted Dan Hasler, who runs the Moss Cider Project – a social enterprise venture to turn unwanted fruit into cider or apple juice – to come up with a solution to benefit the whole community.

Dan, aged 31, and other residents suggested starting an urban orchard on part of the land, growing apple trees in pots so that they could be moved easily once the land was set for redevelopment.

Dan said: "We wanted the land to become a little part of Eden in an urban setting, which all the community could enjoy and help to grow." 

Since then Manchester City Council has provided £10,000 through regeneration funding and cash grants for the project, which will start tomorrow. In addition Heineken, whose Moss Side brewery employs more than 270 people locally, has donated 25 apple trees to the project.

The first trees will be planted tomorrow in an event which will also coincide with Moss Side’s annual Open Yardens celebration. The ‘yarden’ is a term coined for the area’s yards which have been transformed into green areas. 

The first open yarden event was held in 2011, which saw over 30 back yards, community gardens and alleyways in Moss Side open their gates to the public to show what can be grown in a small space.

Councillor Jim Battle, deputy leader with responsibility for regeneration at Manchester City Council, said: "The urban orchard will really boost the green credentials of Moss Side, which is already known for its creative gardening. A ‘meanwhile’ or temporary use for land is a very effective way of letting the community have full use and benefit of a piece of land for a specific amount of time before it can be redeveloped."

Derek Orford, site manager at Heineken Manchester, said: "As the leading cider-maker in the UK, we are delighted to have been able to share our cider experience as well as donating apple trees to a local, grass-roots social enterprise like the Moss Cider Project."

Anyone who wants to get involved with the Open Yardens event or planting the community orchard tomorrow and Sunday is asked to call Jo Wilkes on 07904 244 557.