Volunteers' hard work bears fruit on Dickens' Trail
Volunteers have created a series of linear community orchards along the famous Charles Dickens Trail in Portsmouth to celebrate the great writer's fondness for apples and to give walkers a better flavour of how the area looked in his day.
In March 2018, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Ken Ellcome, together with local residents, schoolchildren, Tree Wardens and representatives from The Tree Council, Friends of the Eart, Food Portsmouth, Abundance Portsmouth and Fratton Big Local planted trees and hedging at designated areas along the route.
The Charles Dickens Trail is a walking route in Portsmouth, the city of his birth, and takes in 15 attractions linked to the great writer, including the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, St Mary's Church, Nickleby House and the Hard.
Dickens was an advocate of 'an apple a day' for health and historically there was a cherry orchard between his birthplace and St. Mary's Church. It was a natural choice to use part of the route of the trail for a new orchard planting initiative which will provide free fruit for local people, plus opportunities to learn about trees, hedges and growing food. The project has been funded by the Tree Council and is supported by Portsmouth City Council.
Cllr Donna Jones, Leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: 'It's so important that Portsmouth is recognised as the birthplace of one of the world's most famous literary legends. This is a fantastic initiative that will see a historic trail brought to life through the hard work of dedicated volunteers. I'm sure Dickens would be proud to know that this innovative project bears his name.'
The project has grown out of the successful community orchard at Cornwallis Crescent in Landport, which is now its third year, and is the brainchild of resident and lead volunteer Dennis David, who has become a Portsmouth and Southsea Tree Warden with the Tree Council.
Dennis said: 'I have lived locally all my life and I saw an opportunity to improve the area by providing a future legacy for young people. I thought it was a good idea to provide free fruit for local people and encourage wildlife while providing educational opportunities. The orchard connects us with other groups and brings together projects in the city as well as making the area look beautiful.'
Educational opportunities for volunteers to learn how to care for the trees and harvest the fruit are planned for later this year. To find out more search for 'Cornwallis Crescent Community Orchard volunteers' on Facebook or visit: www.portsmouthtree.org.uk.