SCHOOLCHILDREN and residents in Ovingham came together to launch Ovingham’s own community orchard last weekend.

To celebrate National Tree Week, 24 varieties of apple tree were planted on the former grazing field between the village green and the allotments.

The planting of Ovingham Community Orchard was the culmination of a year of activity by a group of Ovingham residents.

After a successful public consultation in May, Ovingham Parish Council agreed to lease the field and the project was given the green light.

A group of around 25 people called ‘Friends of the Orchard’ has pledged an annual amount to support the orchard, cover running costs and to help fund future planting and maintenance.

And on Friday afternoon children from Ovingham First School planted the first three trees and some native bulbs, while on Saturday over 40 orchard supporters of all ages planted the rest of the trees.

The cost of the trees was covered by a grant from the Tree Council, one of the UK’s leading tree charities, and additional funding was provided by Ovingham Parish Council.

The group was highly grateful for the help of Tom Martin from Wylam Orchard, who supported them with his expertise.

The chairwoman of the newly-formed committee for the orchard, Bridget Broadhurst, said: “We are really excited to have planted an orchard for the village after months of preparatory work, and it looks just wonderful.

“Huge thanks go to the Tree Council as without their grant the project would never have got off the ground. Also many thanks to people from local community orchards for their advice and practical help.”

Local children have been encouraged to get involved through links to the first and middle schools and Ovingham First Cub pack, meanwhile the orchard’s new logo is a design by Year 6 Ovingham Middle School pupil Daisy Bailey, who won a school competition.