Heritage orchard may include 'extinct' trees

New Zealand's first neighbourhood heritage orchard will be planted today by representatives of Riverton's founding families.

Each family will plant a sapling grafted from their original orchard.

The garden is intended to be a community space tended by and producing food for its locals.

The Heritage Orchard Project, spearheaded by residents Robyn and Robert Guyton, has been given a 0.8-hectare (2 acre) plot in Castle St to develop the food forest.

"The rule is you can take whatever you can hold," Mrs Guyton said.

The trees can be traced back to Britain's 1600s and were brought over by the area's European settlers.

The Guytons started the project five years ago when they began grafting the last remaining orchards. Two years ago they took cuttings from the families' orchards, nurturing them to a stage where they were ready for planting.

Internationally, the project has attracted Britain's Royal Botanic Gardens, which has launched a research project into identifying the dying fruit trees.

"Its quite exciting," Mrs Guyton said. "A number of the trees are thought to be extinct and we may have saved them."

The Southland Times