A NEW community orchard is hoping to have its first harvest in a few months in which villagers can share.

It was only late last year that Drighlington Parish Council began planning in earnest to create an orchard on common land.

After gaining permission from the landowner and local Council and gathering funds, preparation work began on the site off West Street.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The community orchard site earlier this yearThe community orchard site earlier this year (Image: Friends of Drighlington Orchard)

Then volunteers helped plant a variety of fruit trees and soft fruit bushes earlier this year, and now villagers are pitching in to make sure the plants are all regularly watered and able to flourish.

A group called Friends of Drighlington Orchard has also been set up with around 50 volunteers helping to maintain the site of more than 80 trees and around 50 soft fruit bushes.

This includes varieties of apples, pears, plums, cherries, raspberries, blueberries, red and black currants, gooseberries and rhubarb.

One of the biggest jobs at the moment is making sure there is enough water for all the trees and bushes.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Volunteers at the new community orchard in DrighlingtonVolunteers at the new community orchard in Drighlington (Image: Friends of Drighlington Orchard)

Parish councillor and vice-chairman Andrew Grimshaw said they were hoping to get an outdoor tap installed at the orchard site shortly.

Mr Grimshaw said: “For the moment everyone is rallying round to make sure the trees and bushes get enough water as we are waiting for a water supply to reach the orchard.

“We’ve asked everybody, whenever they're out for a walk or with their dog, please just take up some water for the trees.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Preparations are underway at the orchard sitePreparations are underway at the orchard site (Image: Friends of Drighlington Orchard)

Of the project itself he added: “It's about providing food for the village for generations to come.

“Many of the trees that we've planted, will come to maturity ready for a different generation in ten to 12 years, so it’s about doing something now for future generations.”

They are looking to have their first picking day in August, when the soft fruits will be ready.

But it will be another three to four years before most of the fruit trees can be harvested.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Volunteers at Drighlington OrchardVolunteers at Drighlington Orchard (Image: Friends of Drighlington Orchard)

He added: “As it’s a community orchard, the fruit does belong to everybody in the village. To try and prevent people from picking the fruit before it's ripe, we are going to have specific picking days for people to come along. We have fruit that will be ripe in August all the way through to January.”

The majority of the funding for the project has come from the Parish Council, along with sponsorship from local companies Drighlington Properties and Morley Glass, as well as individuals sponsoring a number of the trees.

Further sponsors are required – anyone interested is asked to email andrew.grimshaw@drighlingtonparishcouncil.gov.uk.