Members of a community group along with a number of school children are donning their wellies and rolling up their sleeves in order to plant trees for a new orchard in a town centre park.

Whitehall Park Supporters Group will be assisted by pupils from Ashleigh School and St. Barnabas Primary School in Darwen in planting fruit trees this week, to better engage the youngsters with learning outdoors, making use of the fun and educational opportunities the park offers.

Chair of the Whitehall Park Supporters Group, Marjan Wouda, said: “Thirty apple, plum, pear and cherry trees arrived for planting in our park on Friday.

"Advised by R.V. Rogers, the Cumbrian Nursery which grew the trees, we have a wonderful variety of trees, suitable for our location, which, over time, will give us a really exciting range of fruits and flavours fruiting throughout the season.

“I am particularly keen for young people to have a greater awareness of how our food is grown and how much more there is to an apple than the Granny Smith or Golden Delicious you find in every supermarket.

"We will have a pear tree called Louis Bonne of Jersey, a Cherry Cherokee, Stella, and Early Rivers, and a Cat’s Head apple tree – a tree that has been growing in English orchards since the 17th Century.

"Besides providing our community with fruit, the orchard will also enhance the biodiversity of our park, providing nectar for the bees and homes for all kinds of creatures.”

Funding for the project has come from the Tree Council and preparation for the planting has been carried out by volunteers from the Gardening Club, which has been supporting asylum seekers and people with mental health issues throughout the Covid crisis.

Children from Ashleigh and St. Barnabas Primary School will be involved in the planting on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

In addition, the Community Foundation for Lancashire has provided funding for the creation of an outdoor classroom, a project which has been delivered in collaboration with the Lancashire Wildlife Trust.

Further workshops with both schools encouraging the use of the park as a source of learning and a place of wellbeing are due to take place in April.