Orchard Art: track record
A long-term commitment to using orchards to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
Orchard Art is about recognising that orchards are safe and inspiring places for land-based therapy. Groups of people with learning disabilities are given the opportunity to spend quality time in the countryside and to work with different artists. Their achievements are celebrated in an exhibition of the completed works. The Bulmer Foundation created and manages the project which is delivered by working with a range of local caring organisations.
- In its first year in 2011, 100 people were involved in the project and spent a total of 300 hours in an orchard. Their work was exhibited at Hereford Cider Museum with 72 people attending the opening of the exhibition, including Jesse Norman MP.
- In 2012 the project took place in orchards during blossom time, come rain or shine, and 100 people with learning disabilities took part. Activities included creating a blossom sculpture, music-making and a Japanese tea ceremony. The second exhibition was opened by Her Majesty's Lord-Lieutenant of Herefordshire, the Countess of Darnley.
A FILM was made during the 2012 Orchard Art project, which can be viewed here.
Orchard Art was showcased at the NACM (National Association of Cider Makers) Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons in 2012, and was seen by Her Majesty the Queen during her Diamond Day in Hereford. The Queen was introduced to one of the Orchard Art participants and admired the work.
- In May 2013, with the kind permission of the Dean and Chapter and support from HEINEKEN, the Bulmer Foundation held an Orchard Art Service in Hereford Cathedral. Please click here to view more information about this memorable celebration, including the order of service, songs, addresses and performances given during the service. Please click here to view a film made to commemorate this event.
- The Cathedral Service was followed up with a trip to the Chelsea Fringe event "Planting Ideas," at Battersea Power Station. One Orchard Art participant, Tom Fleming, officially opened this event and became part of a "human orchard." Please click here to view a film made during the visit to Battersea.
- Local MP Jesse Norman offered his own congratulations to the Bulmer Foundation on its work in supporting community orchards in Herefordshire. A link to his House of Commons' address can be accessed here.
- In 2014, a play called "Five Fruit-trees make an Orchard" was devised by people with learning disabilities, working with Echo's About Face Theatre Company. The play was performed at the University of Oxford and at Lyde Court, Herefordshire in July 2014 and a film version was launched in 2015.
- May 2015 - Orchard Art took part in Hereford River Carnival, during which participants sang a song called "Shining Orchard after Rain." The song was written with children with learning disabilities for the project and signalled the opening of the Carnival by joining Herefordshire's Lord-Lieutenant and the Bishop of Hereford in dropping a curtain of apple blossom from the Old Bridge into the River Wye.
- In 2015, the E F Bulmer Benevolent Fund commissioned photos of the Orchard Art project to be hung in the Fred Bulmer Centre in Hereford.
Orchard Art has allowed people with learning disabilities time in the Herefordshire countryside, and their behaviour has been seen to change by increasing their activity and social interaction. The evaluations of the project have proved to be an opening to discuss innovative approaches to health care with commissioners of services. Positive engagement with people with disabilities encourages others to think what we can learn from them - not overcomplicating what we do and living in the moment.
The engagement of people with learning disabilities with the wider community to showcase their achievements is inspirational for all involved and the findings from the evaluations are being used in the national promotion of land based therapies.
The project is delivered by working in partnership with organisations that offer care and support to people with learning disabilities or acquired head injuries, considering their needs and different skills.
Observed behaviour of the participants changes in an orchard, particularly improving interpersonal contact. Self-worth has improved for both participants and their families. The care programme of at least one of the participants was amended as a result of this project and involvement in the project contributed to another participant entering employment.