The roots are starting to spread for what will blossom into an attractive corner of the city after volunteers gathered to plant a community orchard behind Chichester Festival Theatre.
Seeds for the project were sown around six months ago by environmental group Transition Chichester.
They received support from Chichester District Council while it was designed in conjunction with the theatre. The city’s three Rotary clubs – Chichester, Chichester Priory and Chichester Harbour – funded the project.
On Tuesday, volunteers turned out in force at Oaklands Park and, after watching a demonstration, set to work to plant the 25 trees, with members of CDC’s parks and open spaces team on hand to help. The trees are mostly apple but also include pears and plums. In December, another five trees of Sussex varieties will be planted.
Transition Chichester’s Ellie Garwood was one of the people who first came up with the idea, and has been helping coordinate the orchard. She said she was very pleased to finally see it come to fruition.
“I just like the idea and I’m really passionate about local food and the idea of having heritage variety apples and the really important community aspect about getting people together. A lot of sport is played at Oaklands Park and we thought it would be nice to have something else to bring people together.”
Ellie, who lives in Broyle Road, overlooking Oaklands Park, added: “We’ve had a fantastic turnout – it’s been really good and it’s a really sunny day.
“It’s about encouraging people to use their parks and we want to have apple days, harvesting days, pruning events and that sort of thing and maybe cooking events at people’s houses. It will look absolutely gorgeous in the spring.”
Further work will include adding more trees and sowing a wildflower meadow next spring to encourage pollination and extra colour. Transition will then manage the orchard with help from CDC.
During the day Transition Chichester’s apple presser was in action while representatives of the RSPB were also present.
Pupils at Jessie Younghusband School and Lancastrian Infant School also planted a wildlife hedgerow.
The hedgerow includes species such as blackthorn, hawthorn, hazel, silver birch, rowan and common oak and were supplied by the Woodland Trust.
President of Chichester Priory Rotary Club Bob Syme said: “I think it will make for a very nice environment and it will be an opportunity for people to come along and appreciate it.”
President of Chichester Rotary Club Dick Hammond added: “It’s good to have a project where the council is so involved with charity organisations – it’s very much a work-together project.”