NATURE lovers are hoping a new batch of fruit trees will help healthy eating habits among city children to flourish for years to come.
Ten tiny saplings were planted at the Paulsgrove adventure playground yesterday as part of a city-wide scheme.
Known as the Charles Dickens Community Orchards Project, the planting is part of a concerted effort to add to 100 new trees to the city’s landscape – efforts which are continuing today at Sarah Robinson House play area in Portsea.
Funding for the new green-leafed playpark additions has been provided by nature charity The Tree Council and the Rotary Club.
Sara Lom, chief executive of The Tree Council, was thrilled to be kick-starting the Paulsgrove planting.
She said: ‘Planting trees like this will be a legacy for the next generation.
‘But this is also about bringing health and wellbeing into the city of Portsmouth.
‘The power of nature is something that’s really quite fantastic. Research has shown that people in hospital can come out five days earlier if they have more greenery around them.’
Apple, cherry and plum trees were planted at the play park.
It’s hoped that once the saplings have matured, they will provide free fruit for children to tuck into, helping to fuel healthier eating habits.
Among those attending the ceremony in Paulsgrove included some of Portsmouth’s dedicated tree wardens.
The group has been involved in planting new trees across Portsea Island and is keen to expand their project to other areas.
Pauline Powell, coordinator of the tree warden scheme, said: ‘This is massive for us and it’s great for young people.
‘Sadly, a lot of them don’t even know where their fruit comes from. This is all to do with education. Hopefully having fruit trees here in the park will change that.’
As well as having a health ethos behind it, the planting was part of the city’s wider efforts of marking 100 years since women were given the vote.
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP and women’s minister, was the special guest and helped plant one of the first trees.
She said: ‘This is fantastic and is truly a Portsmouth project. It brings together our history of Charles Dickens through to the great environmental push that there is in the city with the planting of trees and growing fruit and vegetables locally.
‘Then, particularly as women’s minister, I’m delighted that these fruit trees will be marking every year that we’ve had women’s suffrage. That’s fantastic because it’s also educating and telling a story too.
‘So this will really enhance the local area and provide so much happiness and joy in the future as these trees grow.’
The park’s community centre already offers cooking classes to locals. It’s hoped volunteers will be taught when the best time to harvest the fruit from the new trees – knowledge they can then pass on to the children.