Rye Lane orchard, SE15

dates: April 2014–2016
commissioned by: Peckham Pocket Places (Sustrans)
project partner: Peckham Plex
special thanks to: Volunteers, Matteo Ferrechia (carpentry),
Barcham Trees
New London Architecture Award 2014 (shortlisted)
Sustainable Housing Community Influence Award 2014 (finalist)
related projects:
Octavia’s orchard, S1, Hannover School playground

Rye Lane orchard is an off-spring of Octavia’s orchard, a temporary installation by what if: projects using thirty-six wheely bins as planters for fruit trees and meadows outside the Royal Festival Hall. Octavia’s orchard was commissioned in 2013 by the Southbank Centre in collaboration with the National Trust and as part of the Southbank’s Festival of Neighbourhoodthe orchard was offered for adoption to community groups in London for their own grounds. In response to an application from Pocket Places Peckham, sixteen bins were donated and installed in Moncrieff Place, an unloved area outside the Peckham Plex Cinema.

The metal wheely bins that were used at the Southbank went into hibernation on a vacant top floor of the Peckham Plex’s cinema and came out in the spring 2014 as Rye Lane orchard. Working with a group of volunteers over a period of two weeks new seating­ was made and painted in red and white stripes, sixteen metal wheely bins were filled with soil, fruit trees were planted and wildflowers sown.

Traditional recipes on how to make quince salami, crab apple pie or Rowan jelly can be found below the corresponding trees encouraging the use of local resources and locally grown food. Peckham was well known for its market gardens until the nineteenth century. Melons, figs and grapes were all grown here. With the lack of refrigeration, food had to be grown close to its final market and Peckham was ideally situated to provide produce for the large London market on its doorstep.

“there is far more than rubbish to be found in bins…”
Laurie Bolger filmed by Sophie Yetton at Spoken Word event, Peckham 2014