March 2016 saw the planting of Barrhead’s first community orchard. With a wee bit of preparation for drainage and a local farmer applying a healthy dose of fertiliser, the field along Glasgow Road was ready for planting.
S1 pupils from Barrhead High School were the first to visit the orchard site and, following a rough plan, measured and plotted where the trees were to be planted. Different fruit trees have different requirements in terms of how far apart they can be planted, so this work was essential before the planting started.
With different coloured bamboo canes representing different species of fruit trees the orchard was ready for planting. Barrhead High School, St Luke’s High School, RAMH (Recovery Across Mental Health), Richmond Fellowship, Carlibar nursery and members of the public all contributed to planting over 250 different species of fruit trees – apples, pears and plums – over a month. For the school pupils involved, this actively contributed towards gaining their John Muir Award an initiative to encourage people to connect with, enjoy, and care for nature (https://www.jmt.org/john-muir-award) . As well as this, everyone who planted a tree could dedicate their tree to loved one, friend, pet or whoever (or whatever) they choose. A modest but touching tribute for future memories.
What makes this orchard special is that all the fruit trees are of local Scottish provenance. Many of these varieties are ancient and unfortunately under threat as we lose traditional orchards across the country. As well as providing a sustainable source of fruit free for the community, this work also helps protect part of our heritage.
Hard, muddy work, but enjoyable. Fingers crossed for fruit in the Autumn!
If you would like to get involved with management of the community orchard, please consider volunteering with the Water Works. Orchard management events are planned for the future.