Fruity Walks with Divya

My name is Divya, I’m a sustainable design engineer and I run a project and Instagram page called @fruitywalks, where I find and map out fruit trees in London. I like to think of myself as a modern-day urban fruit tree forager. Did you know there are fruiting Lemon, Pomegranate and Avocado trees in Zones 1 and 2 in London?! Pretty wild, right?!

Image of Grapefruit tree from @fruitywalks instagram

The initial concept behind Fruity Walks was the novelty of finding these more unexpected species within the city centre, a page on Instagram to inspire people to pay more attention to their surroundings while going from point A to B during their day-to-day. That has now evolved slightly into more of an emphasis on understanding the stories behind these trees, how they arrived here and the people that planted them.

Even at the beginning of this project, many people were so supportive, sharing locations of fruit trees they’d seen in London. I got a tip that there was a grapefruit tree growing near Battersea in someone’s garden, so off I went to find it. After taking some pictures of it, as I was about to leave, the owner of the tree came out to take her bins out, and we started talking. She told me she’d brought the seedlings of this tree from Grenada 50 years ago to remind her of home. It shifted my perspective, taking the emphasis off the trees themselves and thinking about the people who grew them. I made it my goal to find the stories behind these trees.

Being an immigrant to the UK myself, I felt instantly the feelings she described, the universal feeling of comfort at finding familiarity in a foreign place.

I have been a London National Park City Ranger in Southwark for two years and have now recently moved to Tower Hamlets. Through the connections I’ve built from LNPC I have been able to realise my passion for creating more spaces for community orchards and making existing orchards more welcoming and accessible, striving to continue greening London and having healthier spaces for all. I will write in more depth about a life changing project I’ve been lucky enough to collaborate on, ‘The Rouel Community Orchard’ on another blog where we planted 23 fruit trees with, and for, the community.  Stay tuned!

Divya orchard planting

My vision for a greener, healthier and wilder London would include having dedicated orchards at every single public park. Areas that were clearly signalled and labelled as you entered. When you give people the knowledge of what can be found in parks, they become more accessible and more equitable for everyone. To feel comfortable walking into these spaces gives people the power to enjoy them fully.

Planting more community orchards and fruit trees in general is incredibly important. First of all, for the younger generations to be out in nature, to start understanding where their food comes from and be active participants in their community. When people understand and witness the patience and effort it takes to grow food, it makes them care. It makes wasting food a lot harder when you’ve been patiently waiting to eat that apple for an entire year.

Community orchards are also an incredible tool for community cohesion. They bring neighbourhoods together out in nature year round, and create a sense of common purpose towards making the space thrive for everyone to be able to enjoy the bounty during the harvest.

My interest in fruit foraging started in my childhood. My mum comes from a small village in Spain called Garcillan, where we spent a lot of our summers on my family’s vegetable farm. Early on, I learned where food comes from and the patience and effort it requires to grow. So I’ve always been aware of my surroundings and been quick to spot food growing around me.

During the pandemic, when we were all forced to slow down, I started really paying more close attention to my neighbourhood in Bermondsey on my walks to the park. When the world felt frozen in a very uncertain standstill, I found a lot of comfort in seeing the trees move on and bloom, flower and grow their fruits. It gave me something to look forward to, knowing that with patience and time – no matter what else happened in the world – the apples would grow, and I’d get to taste them at the end of the summer. I wanted to capture that and help others identify their local fruit trees so they could feel that sense of possibility as well.

My long-term goal for this project is to keep sharing the stories behind these special trees and where to find them. I am working on a physical map and a zine that would be able to share this with the world – Work In Process. If you have any experience going through this process or if you have some fruit tree locations to share, you can find me on Instagram @fruitywalks!  

Scroll to Top