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Barefoot Kitchen:

The Orchard

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The Orchard is on the site of Nature’s World, which used to be a busy local ‘Eco-experience’ attraction with thousands of visitors every year.  Much of this site on the outskirts of Middlesbrough lies quiet now but the apple orchard is looked after by Catherine and Liz from Barefoot Kitchen with groups of volunteers.


There is a lot of wildlife preparing for Spring the first time I visit.  Whilst there are not many leaves on the trees, you can still hear the main road...but this place has a peace to it and you feel as though you are tucked away from the rest of the world.  By May it is buzzing, including several pairs of bullfinches, carpets of cowslips, and bees from the nearby hive all over the different varieties of apple blossoms.  


The sessions often include chat around the fire and sharing some homemade food.  Volunteers learn about the fruit trees, including skills in grafting new trees.  People tread lightly, working with care not to disrupt or damage.  I began visiting just as lockdown easing was on the horizon.  When it was possible for the volunteers to return, it was so clear how the Orchard had been missed, its importance in people’s lives and the sense of their connection to the place and each other.


Barefoot Kitchen CIC is a social enterprise that works at the grassroots level to create revolutionary, regenerative and resilient communities in the Tees Valley through food growing, cooking and sharing initiatives - from plot to plate!