Green group plants seed of idea for free orchard

AN orchard to provide city residents with free fruit would be created under plans drawn up by an environmental group.

It is thought one of Portobello's many parks would be the ideal place to plant apple, pear, plum and other fruit trees.

The Portobello Energy Descent and Land Reform Group (Pedal) is behind the innovative scheme.

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Pedal has already identified two parks in Portobello - the south-eastern edge of Rosefield Park, at West Brighton Crescent, and the southern edge of Figgate Park next to Hamilton Drive - as the two best options. The group aims to take its plans to the city council over the next few weeks.

The idea behind the orchard is that it would be looked after predominantly by members of Pedal, with the local people getting involved with its upkeep if and when they want. Visitors to the park and residents would be able to pick the fruit for themselves. Planting willow trees that could be used for basket-making classes is also being considered by the project group.

Pedal member Eva Schonveld said that although the proposals were in the early stages, she was confident the group had come up with a good idea.

She also believes it would be able to secure enough funding for the project.

Ms Schonveld said: "We are looking at ways of increasing the growing of local food and there has been a lot of interest from the community. I think we have quite a strong argument. It would be a way of upgrading the area and increasing its use, and the areas we have identified look like they would benefit from a bit of care and attention.

"I'm pretty optimistic about the idea in principle and my feeling is we would probably get some funding easily for it."

The group is keen to obtain the views of the local community, particularly if the orchard is to be created in a public park.

Portobello and Craigmillar councillor Maureen Child supports the plans, but stresses there are still a lot of issues to be considered.

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She said: "It's a nice idea, I really like it, but it's a question of finding the right spot. It's one of these things that brings communities together - rather like an allotment - and I think the community would be quite welcoming of it.

"But it's an idea very much in its infancy and I'm thinking of ways I can help in terms of getting people together within the council to see if this is feasible."

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