ARUNDEL Community Orchard is already bearing fruit by spreading out its nascent branches to provide a valuable amenity for local youngsters and everyone who lives in the town.
Planted in February with the help of pupils from the Arundel Primary School, the orchard has seen many of the children already returning to see how the saplings are developing.
It is there for people to visit at any time, but on the Arundel Food Festival’s Activity Sunday, between midday and 1.30pm on October 20, organisers hope to be welcoming lots of people who want to find out more.
So far, the orchard has 25 trees which are already thriving, mainly apples but also four pears and a couple of greengages.
However, the aim is for the orchard to be about much more than just growing fruit – it is an educational resource and community resource.
Managed and supported by Arun District Council and Arun Wellbeing, it has further support from the Brighton Permaculture Trust which carefully sourced the varieties of trees and masterminded the planting day which was a huge success, despite atrocious February weather.
Dee Christensen, senior community parks officer with Arun District Council, said: “It was a hideous day when we planted them – snow on the ground when we arrived at the field, but I think everyone, including the children from the local school, enjoyed it and felt it was the start of something very important to the community – something everyone could enjoy.
“The school has been very involved from the start and the children have already been back for a special education day to check on how the trees were growing, measuring the circumference and the height of the trees and the size of the leaves.
“On a site inspection, I met one of the girls who had helped with the planting. She was there on her birthday with her mother, who was taking a photograph of her beside the trees and intends to do that every year so they can see how both her daughter and the trees she helped to plant are growing.”
Nell Paton is volunteer co-ordinator for the orchard and has been involved right from the start.
“As a relative newcomer to the town, it seemed the best way for me to contribute to the community,” she said.
“I am passionate about the environment and I think the orchard is such a wonderful use of a field which was just sitting there doing very little.
“I try to get the volunteers together, thinking up ideas of what we can do there, looking to the future as the trees grow. It’s lovely that children from the school are going back there and that they feel they have ‘ownership’ of it. Hopefully that will continue with future generations.”
She added: “We are planting for future generations. The schoolchildren are the ones who will see the orchard grow to maturity and eventually bring their own children along to enjoy it.
“We would love to have more volunteers since there will be many more things to do as time goes by, but volunteering for the orchard isn’t too arduous.
“We are lucky that Arun District Council does all the mowing and hedge-cutting, which takes a huge burden off the shoulders of our volunteers.
“We have only been going for less than a year and already have about 30 volunteers on our list, but we would certainly welcome anyone who is interested in joining us. It’s a lovely place and lovely to be involved with it.”
For more information, contact Dee Christensen on 01903 737957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.