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Community orchards project taking root

By Staff Reporter

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THE ROOTS are taking hold in a series of community orchards in Forres.

Around 40 people helped plant a total of 12 apple, three plum and tree pear trees at the first near the play area at Mannachie Park under instruction from the Forres Community Orchard (FCO) team of Martin Allen, Nick Molnar, Kristy Lee Harris, Pip Molnar.

Ms Lee Harris confirmed the event was a success despite the poor weather.

She said: "I heard a few people say it was the best morning they'd had out in ages ... despite it being freezing cold the rain did hold off till the very end!

"We planted everything in around an hour with dedicated and care-laden apple lovers. There were people of all ages and from all parts of Forres, however, at least eight were from Mannachie, wanting to plant their part for the future generations. Many were very knowledgable and many brought along tools and barrows."

She added: "An enthusiastic mood was created by all the hard work and it wouldn't have been such a successful planting without all the support - a true community effort!"

Mr Molnar welcomed the helpers and introduced the 'heart of the community orchard movement' before local poet Margot Henderson shared a poem to inspire the work. After health and safety instruction, orientation and a tree-planting demonstration, everyone mucked in.

Afterwards, the FCO team served warm apple juice and homemade apple cake in celebration of the new grove which is protected with spiral tree guards and bark mulch, with cardboard as a weed suppressor.

"We hope to have an explanatory sign up as soon as possible," said Ms Lee Harris. "The main maintenance will be weeding and watering. To strengthen the trees for the future the blossom needs removing in the first year, then the fruit in the second year. Then we should be gathering small then bigger crops.

"They will be worth waiting for!"

The team now aims to plant four trees next to the Mosset Tavern with the help of Forres Academy students.

FCO is looking for sponsorship for the trees and an information board at the Mannachie site.

Call 01309 671112 or email forrescommunityorchard@gmail.com if you can help.

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