ON the rugby pitch they are better associated with pulling up trees, but Munster legends Marcus Horan and John Hayes rolled up their sleeves and did the opposite last week in the shadow of Thomond Park.
The duo were at the Learning Hub in Thomondgate as part of an exciting project involving the community in developing Limerick’s first ‘city orchard’.
Together with children from local schools and the surrounding community, Horan - who is a director of the Learning Hub - and his pal The Bull - a farming nut - planted apple trees in the new community orchard.
Created under the supervision of independent environmental consultant Diarmuid Neilan and funded by Limerick Regeneration, over 100 apple trees were adopted and planted in Thomondgate last Friday.
Jennifer Moroney-Ward, the Hub’s manager, explained that the project was “an exciting opportunity” for local people to get involved in adopting their own apple tree and assigning their family name to it.
“The idea is to create a city orchard and invite local people to adopt a tree - specifically children and their families,” she said.
“In two years’ time it will produce apples for what we hope will be a co-op in the city - that is Diarmuid’s idea - and there will be juices locally grown that are available for sale and delivery back into the schools and community centres,” she added.
It is planned that the orchard will be divided into two sections; a commercial orchard consisting of 225 trees in 10 different varieties with a maximum production of 30-60 kilos of apples per tree by year five of operation and a heritage orchard with 20 native varieties, many of which have been brought back from the brink of extinction.
“We have planted about 100 trees and have another 80 to go,” explained Ms Moroney-Ward. “The trees are different varieties, including heritage Irish apple trees that are dying out, so we are trying to maintain and protect those heritage trees, not just the high production and volume apple trees.
“People have a connection to what they are planting, and lots of them have been done in memory of relatives and others, so they will really enjoy watching them grow and they will have respect for the planting and growing process and the produce that comes from it in turn.”