Course: Community Orcharding Certificate

The Orchard Project

September 2024 - July 2025

Cost: £840 - £1,150

Sectors: food, farming & horticulture, conservation & wildlife

CICO is a unique Level 3 training course, run by The Orchard Project and accredited by Crossfields Institute, combining high quality online learning with six action-packed face-to-face training days over 11 months. There will also be a one day tour of Bristol orchards, giving you a well-rounded learning experience.

You will learn from orchard experts, with the flexibility to do most of your learning at home, from over 100 online resources.

We’ve been running our Level 3 CICO courses since 2017 and they’ve been hugely successful, with over 161 students becoming qualified orchardists. Expanding the course to Bristol means more people can become orchard experts and support the thriving orcharding movement in the South West. We’ll be visiting a selection of venues within Bristol during the course.

Please contact the course leader, Witchhazel Wildwood, if you have any queries: [email protected]

What can I gain from doing this course?

Many of our CICO students have moved onto exciting careers in urban food-growing, like managing community gardens, working for organisations in the food sector (including The Orchard Project!), or as professional gardeners/designers. They have also enjoyed meeting other like-minded food growers and becoming part of our informal orcharding network.

Taking the [CICO] course helped me out professionally…After finishing the course, I obtained a job as an Estate Worker in a Hertfordshire park…Being able to talk about the course helped me out in the interview.” Gora, CICO3.

There are many promises and pitfalls when maintaining orchards in cities, however the holistic approach The Orchard Project uses is a comprehensive system which a community can use to bring this historical tradition into our modernised lives.” Dish, CICO4 and founder of Square Mile Farms.

I have done some marking for The Orchard Project and also have a client booked in to prune their fruit tree. Found BOTH these opportunities through The Orchard Project.” Mirjam, CICO6

I’m now a project manager at a Forest Garden and I could not have got this job without my CICO experience.” Bethany, CICO7

This is the best course I’ve ever done!” Franki, CICO8

What to expect

This 11 month course will teach you everything you need to know about planting and maintaining a community orchard, including:

  • Site surveys and orchard design
  • Tree planting
  • Pruning (winter and summer)
  • Grafting (spring and summer)
  • Biodiversity, pests and diseases
  • Soil science & boosting soil biodiversity organically
  • Caring for old orchards (including veteran trees)
  • Identifying fruit trees and apple varieties
  • Managing orchards and the groups caring for them
  • …and more!

Face to face elements

You must attend the induction zoom plus all seven face-to-face training days (including the Bristol orchard tour) to be able to gain the Certificate. Your practical skills will be assessed on the face-to-face training days and these take place on Mondays (10am-4pm) at various locations across Bristol.

  • 2nd September 2023 – Induction tutorial on Zoom
  • 7th October 2023 – Bristol Orchards Tour of three different orchards.
  • 9th December 2023 – Groupwork, winter pruning and tree ID
  • 20th January 2024 – Tree planting and land survey
  • 3rd March 2024 – Spring grafting and soil biodiversity
  • 12th May 2024 – Biodiversity, pests and diseases and group decision making
  • 9th June 2024 – Summer pruning, tree ID and orchard design part 1
  • 30th June 2024 – Trained forms, summer grafting and orchard design part 2

There will be a variety of tutors, including our own The Orchard Project experts – Witchhazel Wildwood, Kate Davies, Lewis McNeil and Jo Homan. External tutors will include Tom Adams (Tom the Apple Man) and Russell Miller (arborist/ecologist).

Online elements

The course platform contains a mix of educational videos, presentations, quizzes and online reading material. You will be assessed on your knowledge via online quizzes and homework – you can expect a couple of pieces of homework a month.

You will be able to access the set group of learning materials on our online learning platform a couple of weeks before the course starts, so you can be prepared for the first induction session. The training platform will be available to you for a year after your course finishes.

In this course we will be covering: Unit 1 – Community Orcharding Essentials; Unit 2 – Community Orchard Practice; and Unit 4 – Designing Resilient Community Orchards. Please note Unit 3 – Managing Established Orchards will also be available online to learners. See ‘more course content’ for more information on the modules.

Please note: it’s similar to doing an A level and you will be assessed on 19 pieces of homework. You will need access to a computer or tablet in order to complete your assignments.


£1150 (general) – full course & accreditation
£840 (concessionary) – full course & accreditation
Concessionary places: students, retired on low income, receiving benefits or on a low income (under £17,000 per year).

Pay-by-instalments options are available: If you wish to pay-by-instalments please contact Witchhazel prior to booking this ticket. The full cost of the general ticket is £1150 and you need to pay an initial deposit of £270 then set up a standing order for the remaining £880 as follows – 11 x £80 starting on 1 September 24 payable on 1st of each month. For concessionary tickets, you will pay an initial £125 and then £65 for 11 months, starting on 1 September 24.

Please contact Witchhazel Wildwood if you have any other queries: [email protected]

External links for financial support:

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