A BORDERS orchard project has been bolstered by almost £10,000 of National Lottery funding.

The cash will help Crailing Community Orchard run community activities to boost residents' health and wellbeing and their connection to nature.

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These include running bug hunting workshops for local children to teach them about biodiversity, as well as storytelling and apple tasting.

Border Telegraph: Crailing Community Orchard

The group will also be hosting a traditional wassailing celebration in January, a ceremony historically held to ensure a bountiful harvest in the autumn.

While some of the fruit has been sold to raise money for the orchard, the rest is being donated to local food banks and community groups.

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Orchard animateur Juliet Porter said: “We are promoting traditional methods of orchard management and growing heritage varieties of orchard fruit, like White Melrose, a very old apple variety believed to have been grown by the monks of nearby Melrose Abbey back in the 12th century.

“It is incredible to see how many of the original orchard trees are still producing abundant crops.

Border Telegraph: Orchard Animateur Juliet Porter

“I’ve lived here less than a year but I already feel rooted here. Being involved in the orchard has really improved my physical and mental wellbeing. I am happier, more fulfilled, and more confident.

“It is so heartwarming to see more people, especially families, discovering the orchard for the first time, and hearing how the orchard looks cared for, well used and welcoming.

“The project is breathing new life into this wonderful community resource and creating new connections for the future.”

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Once a productive commercial orchard like many that existed across the Borders, the orchard fell into disuse in the early 1950s.

The fruit trees were left unpruned, and the orchard floor became overgrown with grass and weeds, until local organisation the Orchard Development Group decided to reclaim the site for the community.

The group uses traditional techniques to manage the orchard which contains some of the oldest damson trees in the south of Scotland as well as apple, plum, pear and cherry trees.

These traditional methods include things like keeping beehives on the site to naturally pollinate the trees, as well as growing comfrey to make natural fertiliser.

The orchard has received £9,979 from the National Lottery.

Kate Still, Scotland chair of the National Lottery Community Fund, said: “I am delighted to see National Lottery funding going to projects where communities are coming together to be more environmentally sustainable.

“It’s all thanks to National Lottery players that we can continue funding these activities which make a profound difference to people’s lives.”