A COMMUNITY orchard is taking root after volunteers planted their first apple trees in a field.
More than 50 people from Emsworth and Westbourne, which is just over the border in West Sussex, joined together to plant the trees at Hampshire Farm Meadows on Saturday.
Our idea is to help preserve traditional fruit varieties and help local people, especially children, get a bit closer to the earthRichard Hitchcock
Environmental campaign group Greening Westbourne put together a plan to create an orchard more than three years ago.
A group of volunteers has been working to put the plan into action and now the first eight trees, about 5ft tall, have been planted.
They will be joined by eight more in January, with the first crop expected in the autumn.
The group also plans to plant other types of fruit tree, such as pears, plums and apricots.
The goal is to eventually have 50 or 60 trees with benches nearby.
Richard Hitchcock, of Greening Westbourne, said: ‘It’s wonderful to have trees in the ground after a lot of hard work finding a site, getting some initial funding and recruiting a team to make it happen.
‘Our idea is to help preserve traditional fruit varieties and help local people, especially children, get a bit closer to the earth.
‘Growing food reminds us that it doesn’t always have to be flown thousands of miles across the world.
‘We hope the orchard will be an attractive feature of Hampshire Farm Meadows, and something our two communities – Emsworth and Westbourne – can enjoy together.’
The orchard is next to the new open space alongside the Redlands Grange housing development in Emsworth.
Westbourne Beavers, Cubs and Scouts turned out in force for the planting, and tree surgeon Mike Reed lent his expertise.
Mr Hitchcock thanked Havant Borough Council, Bloor Homes and Bellway Homes and the Tree Council for their support.
But more funding is needed to complete the orchard and one idea is to allow people to sponsor trees.
Anyone who wants to get involved with the community orchard by sponsoring a tree, or with Greening Westbourne, can email the organisers on firstname.lastname@example.org