AN ORCHARD with 50 fruit trees could be planted at Basingstoke’s War Memorial Park.

A group of volunteers in Basingstoke has set up a project to encourage local people to grow their own food.

The idea was inspired by a similar project in Yorkshire, in which the community joined together to plant herb gardens, orchards and vegetable plots, using land around their town such as schools, the railway station and fire station.

Incredible Edible North Hampshire hopes to replicate the idea, and is encouraging people in Basingstoke and the surrounding areas to get involved.

Bob Legg is leading the project and recently spoke to members of Overton Parish Council about his ideas.

He said: “The focus is on food with the emphasis on local food. It has three main focal points – activities that support the community, learning and supporting business.”

He told how he visited the project in Todmorden, Yorkshire to find out how it works, and said: “They have about 70 raised beds around the town.

“They have competitions about who can grow the best food. All the local schools are involved and all of the food in public spaces is free to share, anyone can come along and help themselves.”

Mr Legg added the town also holds food events, with chefs using the locally grown produce to show others how to create dishes, and some of the trees are sold by a garden centre to raise money to fund the project.

Mr Legg has now launched Incredible Edible in Basingstoke, and has already worked with residents in Brighton Hill.

He said: “We are talking to the council about putting an orchard into the War Memorial Park.

“Hopefully, we will get permission so we can order the trees and put in about 40 to 50.”

Along with hoping to plant an orchard in War Memorial Park, Mr Legg has also asked the borough council if Incredible Edible can use the raised beds at Top of The Town for planting.

Tim Boschi, head of community services at the borough council, said: “We have been in discussion with the Incredible Edible group about the possibility of planting a small community orchard in War Memorial Park, close to the John Arlott Pavilion and tennis centre.

“We have received a request from the group for funding through the council’s leisure initiatives grant scheme, and we are working with them to ensure they meet the requirements of the grant criteria, before the scheme can be considered by the relevant portfolio holder.”