During December 2021,open grassland in Stonefield Public Park, Blantyre was transformed as many dozens of fruit trees were planted to form a little orchard. As you can see from this photo taken 5 months later in April 2022, the trees are flourishing and becoming more established.
Our public park was one of 13 parks throughout Lanarkshire which received hundreds of new trees to beautify the area and were planted as a memorial to the areas Covid-19 victims.
The council worked hard in December to commence the endeavour. Under their plan, a fruit tree has been planted in memory of every local person who lost their lives in the pandemic.
Local community groups are encouraged to be involved in the care of the trees and including the harvesting of crops in future years as part of South Lanarkshire Council’s commitment to food growing. In future years, this little orchard should produce good crops of fruit.
The then Council Leader, John Ross said: “The pandemic has been tough for everyone, but obviously the worst aspect has been the loss of so many lives.”
“In looking for fitting ways to commemorate those deaths, we thought that one way would be to create a living memorial, in the shape of a tree planted to mark every person who sadly lost their lives in South Lanarkshire because of the virus.”
“There are likely to be other Covid-19 memorials in the future, but I hope these trees become a place where people can go to pause for reflection and mark their respects for many years and decades to come.”
There were an estimated 62 trees at each of 13 locations.
These are: Overtoun Park in Rutherglen; Cambuslang Park; Stonefield Park in Blantyre; Bothwell Road Park and Chatelherault Country Park in Hamilton; Town Centre Park, James Hamilton Heritage Park and Calderglen Country Park, in East Kilbride; Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse; Strathaven Park; Biggar Public Park; and at Lanark Loch.
The plan was funded through the council’s Food Strategy. Trees are not marked with individual names but will instead represent the community’s loss as a whole.
In addition to linking into the Food Strategy, the planting also helped improve biodiversity, the amount of tree canopy in the area, and carbon removal. Discussions will also be held around how local schools and social work clients can get involved in management of the sites and how the fruit is used.
I’d love to see a new community group popping up to look after this park, a subject already being discussed in the background. It’s a fab idea and one which has so much potential. We only need to look at Strathaven park for example to see what is possible. A first class benchmark, already set.
Meantime, we look forward in future years to see crops of many fruits in this area and hope Blantyre folk give these young trees the respect and care that they will require.
Photo Courtesy: G Sowerby