From Rosita Page

Community groups, parish councils and schools are being invited to apply for free packs of fruit trees and use them to plant new orchards.

Leicestershire County Council has launched the new community orchards programme as part of its annual free tree scheme. Under the new initiative, groups are being encouraged to apply for the free orchard packs, which contain 10 apple and pear trees, stakes and other equipment needed to establish the orchard.

The trees can be used to create a new orchard for the local community or to help restore and boost an existing orchard. The trees must be planted on sites which are open to the public, groups must have permission from the landowner to plant the trees, and all groups applying to the scheme need to commit to maintaining and nurturing the orchard in the long term.

Councillor Blake Pain, cabinet member for the environment and the green agenda, said: “Orchards and trees play a vital role in enriching our ecosystem and improving biodiversity. The new orchards scheme gives community groups the opportunity to make a real difference to our environment and play their part in making Leicestershire a cleaner and greener place to live and work.

“The creation of a number of new orchards throughout the county gives us a unique opportunity to create green spaces that not only provide fresh and healthy produce but also serve as havens for wildlife and a boost to our goal of helping to plant 700,000 trees in Leicestershire.”

Groups who would like to apply for one of the tree packs should contact the council’s Forestry team on

The packs will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, and will be available for collection during National Tree Week in November.