A new community orchard that aims to provide fresh fruit for villagers is set to flourish, thanks to a grant from Northumbrian Water.

The West Rainton and Leamside Green Group, in County Durham, have planted 25 trees comprising a range of species proven to suit the North East climate.


Once the West Rainton Community Orchard is established, fruit such as apples, damsons and plums, will be harvested for the local community to enjoy.


A grant of £700 from Northumbrian Water’s environmental fund, Branch Out, has covered almost half of the cost of developing the orchard, which is on Durham County County Council’s Middle Rainton Picnic Site, where volunteers planted the trees in March. The site is managed in partnership between the Green Group and the council.


The orchard is the latest initiative from the group, which also carries out activities such as looking after local woodland and conducting litter picks.


Julie Stobbs from the West Rainton and Leamside Green Group, said: “Fresh fruit is so important for people’s health, so this is an ideal time to be able to do something that simultaneously supports people in the village and the local environment. It’s going to be really exciting watching the orchard develop.


“The support from Northumbrian Water and its Branch Out fund has made a huge contribution to us being able to buy the right species to make an orchard viable here in County Durham, and we are grateful for the support.”


Stuart Pudney, Northumbrian Water’s Conservation and Land Manager, said: “The West Rainton Community Orchard is a fantastic and timely example of a project that goes to the heart of a community, sustainably supporting neighbours and also providing an environmental boost to the area.


“It’s great to see our Branch Out funding being used in such a great and we wish the West Rainton and Leamside Green Group all the best with the project.”


People can find out more about Branch Out, which welcomes applications for up to £25,000, at