NOT even the rain could dampen the mood as community spirit shone through when the first seeds of a community orchard were sown.
On Saturday, West Park in Aldwick was a hive of activity as volunteers from the Friends of West Park and the 1st South Bersted Air Cubs planted six fruit trees to start a community orchard.
Jan Malpas, chairman of the park’s Friends, said: “We hope this will just be the start. We hope that over time the orchard will grow and grow as we are able to plant more trees.
“We want to see these ones do well and then we can add to them.
So far, two apples trees, two pear trees and two plum trees been planted.
“We want the community orchard to become a real feature. We want people to be able to come to the park and enjoy it.
“We would like to put in some more seating around the side so people can just come to sit and enjoy the tranquillity of the park, and perhaps even talk to the trees to get them growing,” said Jan.
The arrival of the trees has seen different organisations come together.
There has been help from Arun District Council, as well as funding from Hotham Rotary Club and Aldwick Parish Council. Manor nursery where the trees were purchased also gave a generous discount.
Jan said: “This really shows just what can happen when people work together. This really has been a community effort.
“It is great to see the scouts here helping. They really have been fabulous.”
Molly Myers, vice-chairman of Aldwick Parish Council, also braved the rain to see the trees go in.
She said: “It is very exciting to see the trees being planted. Aldwick Parish Council are proud to support the Friends of West Park.
“This is a real community effort – you have different members of the community all working together.”
A number of community orchards are blossoming across the Arun District.
Dee Christensen, a senior community parks officer at Arun District Council, said some 65 fruit trees had been planted across the area in the past three years.
Some 14 were in Felpham, 24 in Arundel and 26 in Littlehampton.
“These six trees will be a great addition to that number,” said Dee.
“West Park is such a nice park and the Friends of West Park do a lot for it.”
Terence Chapman, the district council’s cabinet member for environmental services, also joined in the fun.
Cllr Chapman said: “This is fantastic to see. I am a great supporter of community orchards and this one will be a great asset to the district.
“It will hopefully become a great focus for the park and will become a nice area for residents as well as visitors to the park to enjoy.”
But the trees weren’t the only things being encouraged to flourish on Saturday, as tulip bulbs were also planted in the park’s poppy meadow.
“The poppy meadow attracted a lot of attention when it was in bloom and Arun District Council has kindly given us some red tulip bulbs which we hope will help create the sea of red for longer,” said Jan.