six apple and two plum trees were the first plantings of the new Earlston Orchard Town on Sunday.
Between 30 and 40 local people, with many representing local community organisations, were led by piper Ruaidhri Hutton from the square, where the chairpersons of the village’s community development trust – parent organisation for the orchard project – and the community council each planted a tree beside the Leader on the Mill Meadow path.
Trees were also planted by the Cubs, Earlston High School’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and Earlston Paths Group and then back to the rugby club, where trees were planted by club officials. Earlston resident and independent forestry expert, Donald McPhilimy, is co-ordinator for the lottery and council-funded project, and explained the trees – the first of around 300 – were planted on public land.
Others planted at later dates will include those on certain private areas of ground where the trees – and subsequent fruit – will overhang public paths.
“It was great to have such a mixed group taking part on Sunday – there were babies, toddlers and teenagers right up to the more elderly,” Mr McPhilimy explained.
“These six were just the first of hundreds of fruit trees that will be planted between now and March to start creating a community orchard.
“As well as making the town look nicer, it will benefit the health of local people because people will be encouraged to pick and make use of the fruit from the trees on the public areas of ground.
“Hopefully, they will turn this into jams, chutney and perhaps even cider.
“As well as apple, pear and plum trees, we will also be planting some soft fruit.”
Mr McPhilimy added: “The plan is that, eventually, we will be able to take cuttings from these fruit trees, as well as from more established trees, to help grow the size of the orchard and also sell for a small cost to raise funds.”