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Planting community fruit tree groves

Imagine pockets of fruit trees dotting public parks in the suburbs, looked after by the local community, and there for all to enjoy and harvest. Well imagine no more! Exciting news is that Wollongong City Council, supported with funding from the NSW Environmental Trust through the Illawarra Biodiversity and Local Food Strategy for Climate Change project is creating three public fruit tree groves. The goal is for these sites to demonstrate how edible plants can be integrated into public land, and bring good food into our suburbs. We’ve played a key role in designing these food gardens, and have included a range of different trees from citrus, to macadamias, longans and avocados.

On Tuesday the first fruit tree grove was planted out in the park at the back of Unanderra Community Centre, with the help of interested community members. Wollongong Councils Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbury was on hand to help with the planting, and had much enthusiasm for the project, which was wonderful to see!

Community planting days will also be held in June to help create fruit tree groves at Guest Park in Fairy Meadow, and Bulli Park in Bulli. Later there will also be workshops about establishing and maintaining free trees, which will be free for Wollongong Council residents. So if you’re a local and would like to get involved, just call Vanessa John in the Environment team at Wollongong City Council on 4227 7111.

Has anyone else heard about other public fruit tree plantings happening around Oz? We’d love to hear about them!

Reader Comments (12)

hi guys wow thats a great idea, i read about it in saturdays paper too, wonder if they are doing anything in shellharbour area? I would love to get involved
May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKaz
My old friends up in Fremantle have planted an urban orchard as part of the Hilton Harvest Community Garden - inspired by the Transition Movement to grow their food and harvest it close to home. Sounds like exciting things are happening in Wollongong!
May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlison
I LOVE this idea! It will be interesting to see how the community use these forests in the future. I'm often amazed at how fruit laden road-side trees are ignored.
May 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTricia
Hey, don't forget to mention your edible street and park trees guide! I'm still sending that link out to people that show an interest :-).
Hi Kaz,
The fruit tree groves in Shellharbour are going in to Balarang, Oak Flats and Albion Park Rail primary schools. Ace, eh! Also, on the 18th June Mount Terry Public School is launching their school permaculture garden, with Costa G from Gardening Australia coming along.
May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCath
I work for a council and was in the Street Tree department for 4 years until they made the position redundant. Your post blew my mind and I can safely say it was never brought up during those 4 years I was there (and the years beforehand). I know of one poorly managed Fruit Tree 'grove' in the local area and I've seen citrus and persimmon get snapped up quite quickly.

Besides that, the amount of mulch there is impressive (arborist position for me now) ! Are there any other design features besides mulch and holes in the ground?
May 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnon
Thanks for your comments and enthusiasm all!

Kaz, as Cath mentioned, in the Shellharbour area there are quite a few food gardens being created in schools, and there is also the Barrack heights community garden which is funded by Shellharbour Council. The garden is unfenced and open to the public, and located on the corner of Wattle Road and Carrington Street in Shellharbour. All are welcome to join in the working bees - see for details!

Alison, fantastic to hear your friends are involved in the Hilton Harvest Community Garden. Just checked out their website at and it looks like they're doing fantastic things!

Tricia, yes it will be really exciting to see how the project goes!

Thanks for sending the link to the Grow Local Illawarra Edible Garden guide out Darren :)

Anon, isn't it great that Wollongong Council is leading the way with the help of the Illawarra Biodiversity and Local Food Strategy for climate change project to plant public fruit tree groves, given that something like this was never on the agenda previously! The integration and encouragement of fruit trees into public spaces sure is gaining movement - in Chippendale Michael Mobbs has helped drive food gardens on verges and in public spaces (see and he recently shared details about his local Council planting fruit trees on the verge and getting residents to agree to look after them - check out the details at

Adelaide City Council manages some historic olive trees that community members can apply to harvest - and

A recent international example was the planting of fruit trees in a memorial park in Rhode Island in the USA -

A wonderful initiative by a UK group is to map all the public fruit trees in London so the fruit can be harvested and put to good use -

So many wonderful things happening to integrate food into our urban landscape!

As for the design features of these fruit tree groves, they will include a small seating circle, winding paths and a banana pit. The most important aspect of the design relates to the placement and selection of appropriate fruit trees and shrubs - those that are well suited to our climate and will be hardy, easy to maintain, resistance to pests such as fruit fly, and produce abundance crops. A workshop about maintaining the groves will be held free for interested community members, and maintenance notes provided.
May 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth
Hi HappyEarth, the links I was interested in clicking all failed to load. You need to drop or space out your punctuation.

In regards to Street Trees and fruit/nut, what do you feel are the long term implications of having hard-shelled circular nuts on footpaths and roads from a Macadamia?

Your selection of Park Trees are actually some of our Street Trees here (jambos and inga) and I would be wary of Macadamia where there is foot traffic (I've slipped on some on the grass with a chainsaw in my hand). S.jambos are now heavily infected with Myrtle Rust so it will be interesting to see how they go.

Perhaps, if I were you, I would expand your pdf to give a disclaimer about DYBD and services (safe stand-off distances and overhead space), stress visibility issues and clear footpaths, mention root size/strength and size of nature strip (open earth between infrastructure) to accommodate trees. One thing having worked both sides of the street coin (plant and prune), trees that hang or droop or grow amazingly fast are high-maintenance and can often backfire in that regard.
June 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnon
Anon, thanks for alerting us to the problems with the links - all fixed now!

Thanks for highlighting just some of the many important issues regarding safety and maintenance that need to be taken into consideration when selecting appropriate fruit trees for public spaces. You certainly wouldn't want macadamias near roads or footpaths as the nuts would be a real hazard - just like the hazard London plane trees are proving to be in Wollongong at the moment, where quite a few overhang footpaths and roads and are dropping seeds the size of macadamias which are quite a hazard. The macadamias planted in these groves are away from streets and footpaths.

The edible street and parks trees for the Illawarra document at was just something we drafted back in August 2008 to help start discussion about this issue. It's a bit out of date now and we should update it - thanks so much for the tips on extra points to include, we will look to do that. Many of the trees listed in the document, including the Rose Apple (Jambos) and Ice-cream bean (igna) haven't been planted in these fruit tree groves. As you mentioned, Rose Apples are now succumbing to Myrtle Rust in the Illawarra, and we wouldn't recommend planting them as street or park trees anymore.
June 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterHappyEarth
Thank you for bringing us this article, living in western Sydney I do not know of any fruit groves being planted. It is such a fantastic idea, both giving us the trees we desire and also providing for the community. More councils should be looking into fruit groves, especially in urban areas that are not as sensitive to infiltration to the native flora.
June 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrad Hamilton
Such a great idea, and a good way to transform tracts of unproductive lawn that pass for parks in some parts of the Illawarra!! Will definitely be at the Fairy Meadow planting...
June 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmma
What a great initiative. We completed a public fruit tree planting of citrus at the sports oval about three years ago. This year will be the first year that they are allowed to go to fruit. I would love to see a foodforest planting as well in the not too distant future. There is more info on our planting at
October 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNic Denshire

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