GREEN-FINGERED volunteers who have helped to establish a community orchard in Kirkcaldy have been celebrating its first anniversary.
Last May, local environmental group, Greener Kirkcaldy, was awarded £19,770 from the Central Scotland Green Network Development Fund to develop the facility on overgrown land within Ravenscraig Walled Garden.
The project has also received funding from the People’s Postcode Trust.
Since then, it has slowly started to bloom with various plants, trees, fruit, vegetables and bushes being planted while preserving the wildlife on-site.
On Thursday staff from Greener Kirkcaldy organised a barbecue for volunteers at the walled garden to say thank you for their hard work over the past 12 months.
The first task the volunteers had last year was to clear the ground and this saw the team battling four foot high nettles and thistles to allow planting to begin.
The preparation work took eight months and it was December 2012 before the group was able to plant 50 apple, plum, pear and quince trees at the garden.
Lisa Farrell, development worker, said: “This time last year we had just started work on site in the orchard and to begin with there was mud and waste ground.
“Now we have a lovely orchard where we have planted trees and we also have plots for growing fruit and vegetables. It’s great people can come in and grow their own vegetables which they can can eventually eat.”
Russell Gill, development worker, said: “We have planted apple trees and raspberries and there is a big difference now compared with how it looked last May!
“We have had a lot of volunteers including the 5th Fife Scouts Group who have been planting strawberries and pansies and a herb garden.” There has also been another facility added - a 150W solar panel on the orchard shed (known as ‘The Howff’).
The panel on the roof charges a leisure battery that can be used for lighting, charging phones and powering a laptop.
The solar panel has been installed as part of the ‘Greening the Howff’ project which received £1238 from the People’s Postcode Trust to turn the shed into a fully functioning classroom.
Russell said: “We’ve been able to buy guttering and a water-butt to collect the rainfall off the roof, so we now have our own water supply to irrigate the allotment.
“Not only does the solar panel give us power for lights and equipment so we can run classes and presentations, it’s also a great educational tool.”
Fraser Nicol, who runs the volunteer sessions, added: “Without fail there’s always been a good team of folk to prepare the allotment and orchard for what we hope will be a successful growing season.”
Volunteer sessions are held at the community orchard every Thursday from 10.00 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. and the last Saturday of every month from 1.30 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.