SCHOOL pupils from across South and West Belfast are helping to plant out a new orchard in Musgrave Park.

The orchard will consist of 20 different species of native apple trees donated by the Woodlands Trust.

Mickey Culbert of the Belfast City Council Community Parks Engagement Team and his colleague Mickey McCorry are organising the planting of the orchard.

Mickey said: “Part of our work as the Council’s Community Parks Engagement Team is to provide schools with opportunities for outdoor learning, so in other words, what they learn in the classroom they can practise in the parks. Not only do they enjoy planting the trees for the orchard but they learn about outdoor management, how the trees support flood alleviation, boost pollination and help tackle climate change."

Welcoming the initiative, Councillor Geraldine McAteer added: “I think if it wasn’t for the Covid pandemic, we would all be talking about how to tackle climate change. I think it’s a brilliant idea to plant an orchard in Musgrave Park, which is one of the green lungs we have in the city. 

"Woodlands Trust have donated 20 different species of Heritage apple trees, which they have sourced from a nursery in Cork. Hundreds of these trees are being planted by very energetic school children who are doing a great job at digging for the future. When the trees begin to mature, the fruit will be free for people to pick, eat and cook."

Cllr McAteer said she thinks the orchard will look amazing, especially in spring when the blossoms come out, and she hopes that it will become a big attraction for park users.

"The Park Community Engagement Team have told me that planting the orchard will save on cutting grass, which will in turn save on using petrol or diesel and reduce our carbon footprint," she continued.

"I want to congratulate the staff, Woodlands Trust, the teachers and these great pupils for their hard work and enthusiasm. They are very inspirational. So much so, that I will be back with some local resdents to help plant more trees over the next few weeks. I know the team will welcome community groups to be involved."