Brixton’s orchard is a community space that reduces air pollution

Brixton Orchard tree planting workshop

Brixton Orchard serves more purposes than being a beautiful and restful place in a bustling town.

Brixton Orchard, opposite the new Lambeth town hall development, aims to showcase how green infrastructure interventions to address air quality can also serve other functions, like reconnecting people to where food comes from.

The Business Improvement District (BID) together with social enterprise Urban Growth Learning Gardens began to create the orchard in 2016 following the BID’s green infrastructure audit of the area funded by the mayor of London,

Green infrastructure consists of natural and semi-natural measures that address issues like air quality, urban heat island effect* and water drainage problems.

Trees and plants help to reduce air pollution created by vehicle emissions by trapping small particles that are suspended in the air on the surface of leaves. By trapping pollution, the leaves act as a protective barrier for people and animals. Deciduous plants and trees, which shed their leaves as winter approaches, do this in spring, summer and autumn.

Evergreen plants and trees do it all year round. Rain washes particles off leaves and away to another location and out of the air we breathe.

Brixton Orchard is nurturing 35 fruit trees, and hundreds of examples of edible and woodland hedging. These produce apples, pears, quince, plums, damsons, cherries, sloes, rose-hip, hawthorn, amelanchier (a large shrub or small tree with edible berries), gooseberry, alpine strawberries and others.

Planting has been chosen to encourage and support biodiversity and to provide food for pollinators all year around. Improving biodiversity creates a more resilient ecosystem that can complement other green space nearby like the rest of Rush Common, and possibly extend its support to areas like Brockwell Park where stunning native wildlife like the elusive stag beetle can be found.

Brixton Orchard is for the people, plants and animals living in and visiting Brixton. Please come and enjoy this public space, it is part of Rush Common and is for you to connect with and care for. The orchard is part of a wider strategy to promote Brixton as a destination and to raise awareness about sustainability in the city.

orchard volunteers

Urban Growth Learning Gardens host free weekly open gardening workshops at Brixton Orchard where people are invited to help them take care of the local ecosystem and learn skills and knowledge about fruit trees, edible and ornamental plants and horticulture. They are open to people of all interests and skill levels, so do join in on Thursday afternoons between 1pm and 2:30pm. Sign up for free tickets at

*An urban heat island occurs when a city area experiences much warmer temperatures than nearby rural areas. The difference in temperature is the result of how well the surfaces in each environment absorb and hold heat.