Welcome to the planting party

Walking through St. Andrews cemetery on a dusky Sunday morning, I was unaware that history was being made in a small unused part of its north west corner. I arrived at the site of the Jesmond Community Orchard to find more than a dozen fruit trees waitiPC062863ng to be planted, over a dozen holes to be dug, and more than a dozen local people raring and ready to launch their first planting party.

Disguised as a “working party” it took two, extremely large skips and an ample collection of willing volunteers to clear the 30 to 40 tons of rubble that used to inhabit the area. Slabs of concrete and benches donated by Bells Yard had already begun to transform the site.

Today you will find planks of wood paving the way for the candidly named Stewards of the Orchard to plant the first orchard trees and despite the mud, a total of 14 apple, pear, plum quince trees are now successfully planted.

Jesmond Community Orchard is a local project by local people which aims to provide a quiet spot where people can sit in peace, have family picnics and in time, enjoy the produce. The project is already involved with local schools and the Northern Counties Education College in the hope of giving educational opportunities to local schools, as well as becoming a haven to wildlife and proving that food can be grown locally.

This community effort invites people to see where, and what, they can grow – whether it’s in your own back garden, with a youth group, or even with people off the street. Steve Emsley, who is also part of Transition Initiative Newcastle, told JesmondLocal: “Within five years there’ll be over a quarter of a ton of fruit.” So make a note to visit in the summer of 2014 to pick your fresh apples, plums and pears, from the very heart of Jesmond.