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Communities coming together to work on a small task to help the environment is what going green is all about. STEVE EMSLEY reports on a historic moment in Jesmond.

Byline: STEVE EMSLEY

I SPENT a couple of hours on a recent Sunday doing a simple task of planting some fruit trees along with 20 other members of the Jesmond Community Orchard group.

It had been a very wet night and the site was saturated. Fortunately the rain eased off and made it a pleasant experience. The site is in a corner of St Andrew's Cemetery, Jesmond, which had previously been the old greenhouse and tool storage area but lay disused for many years.

The council had provided a big pile of soil improver so we have the citizens of Newcastle to thank for that.

The soil improver is made from the garden green waste that thousands of people put into their blue waste bins. We mixed this with some manure to provide a rich mix for the trees to grow into.

As it was so wet we laid planks for people to walk on, to prevent them getting bogged down in the soil either side. We dug holes for the thirteen trees we are starting with, then put in some limestone chippings, soil improver and compost. Then the bare rooted trees went in, with a strong stake to support them, and a rubber tree tie to stop them blowing around too much, then we topped off the holes with more manure and soil improver. We made clay labels with the tree names on, which will be fired and decorated and placed along with the trees.

We planted a range of trees including these apples: discovery, fiesta, Ashmead's kernel, Egremont russet, sunset, monarch and Tydeman's late orange. Then two kinds of plum, a greengage, a quince and two kinds of pears. These were all maidens, meaning they were just one year old. They will have a few years to go before they have large crops, but after four or five years we may be harvesting about a quarter of a ton of fruit.

One of the best things about this kind of activity is that it is positive. It is a small simple action that brings people together to do something for the future in growing local food. The land has been reclaimed, the soil improved, trees planted and eventually there will be local harvest. Members of the community have learnt a bit about planting and growing fruit trees and worked together in harmony. The project will continue and people will learn how to care for and prune the trees to get the best out of them. All we need now is a partridge to go in the pear tree.

Small steps like these help to cut carbon emissions, because the fruit doesn't have to travel from other parts of the world to feed us. If there is some land near you that isn't being used maybe it can be used to help Newcastle go green and improve the environment. There is a membership system, for details to contact Jesmond Community Orchard, email: Clarke@newbrough.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 15, 2009
Words:498
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