Co-operative retailer Scotmid has announced funding for a Scotland-wide community orchard.
The Scotland Community Orchard, which will benefit almost 200 communities across the country, is offering £200 to community groups to plant five or more fruit trees and bushes near each of Scotmid’s retail stores.
The retail society hopes the initiative will encourage people to work together, increase physical activity and improve local environments.
The initiative is also set to launch across the north east of England through Scotmid’s Lakes & Dales Co-op stores.
Both Scotmid and Lakes & Dales Co-op are looking for groups that operate near each of their stores across Scotland and north-east England to apply for the funding. The deadline for applications is 20 January 2023.
“We love the idea that lots of people doing something simple locally, like planting fruit trees or bushes, not only benefits those close to them but allows them to be part of something so much bigger – an orchard spanning hundreds of miles weaving through our Scottish communities,” said CEO John Brodie.
“We all recognise the value that green spaces bring. Scotmid is thrilled to provide the funding for our communities to plant, grow, learn, and let nature thrive.”
The orchards will create volunteering opportunities throughout the year as well as the chance for local people to learn skills, create new habitats for wildlife and produce food.
Participants in the project will receive advice from Social Farms and Gardens, a UK-wide charity which helps communities to farm, garden and grow together.
The charity’s Scotland advisor, Karen Davidson, said: “We are so excited to see Scotmid leading the way, creating a network of micro-orchards across Scotland through this funding.
“Community orchards are part of a local food system. Promoting the health benefits of fresh produce and outdoor exercise to people of all age groups, orchards are excellent places for people to come together and enjoy the outdoors, whilst providing a focal point for community activities.”