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Volunteers help Charles Dickens Community Orchards Trail bear fruit as part of National Tree Week

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184 fruiting trees were successfully planted in Somerstown by over 100 local volunteers, thanks to Tree Council funding, Dennis David the lead resident on the project, and Portsmouth and Southsea Tree Wardens.

Building on this success with much interest developing throughout the city, over 180 fruiting trees and hedge plants were planted by volunteers at Somerstown Central on 29th-30th November to link in with the Charles Dickens Trail, which started in Cornwallis Crescent Community Orchard last year.

The Charles Dickens Trail is a walking route in Portsmouth, the city of his birth. The route takes in 15 attractions linked to the great writer, including the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, St Mary's Church and the Hard. It is hoped the orchards will both follow this trail and expand throughout the city in future.

A team of volunteers helped with the planting and were joined by the Lord Mayor, local councillors and dignitaries on 29th November to start the planting, which continued on 30th November.

Sara Lom and Jon Stokes from the Tree Council attended alongside Pauline Powell and other stalwarts from Portsmouth & Southsea Tree Wardens. Geoffrey Christopher from the Charles Dickens Fellowship and community and inclusion coordinator Jasper Taylor from the Fire Service were also in attendance.

This new orchard planting initiative will provide free fruit for local people, plus opportunities to learn about trees, hedges and growing food.

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Volunteers that took part came from various backgrounds of the community. These included young people from the Brooke Club, the Somerstown adventure playground, Friends of the Earth and volunteers from local tower blocks. Southsea Fire Station provided one of their vehicles with crew to help out as operational duties allowed.

Cabinet member for Housing Councillor Darren Sanders, said "It's amazing to see the success and progress that the Community Orchard Trail has achieved. I am delighted to see the scheme expand to other areas in Portsmouth. I would urge anyone to volunteer and get involved in the event to learn new skills and to pass on to others. You could be part of a natural legacy that will be enjoyed by future generations."

During the last phase in March, over 100 volunteers took part in the event, with 2 schools, Catch22 and Urbond being some of the groups that helped out. Those who took part benefited from training and developing new skills, making new friends and enjoying positive rewards for their community.

Would you like to help with future planting?

The Tree Council welcome more volunteers to take part in future events throughout the city. Contact Trish Bell on 02392 841 698 to get involved.

You don't need any previous experience as local tree wardens and experienced volunteers will be on hand to assist.

To find out more, visit www.treecouncil.org.uk, or if you're interested in becoming a tree warden, visit www.portsmouthtree.org.uk.

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