Funds for outdoor classroom keep growing

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A community orchard on Mull is growing funds to build its own outdoor classroom.

The no-wall classroom in Dervaig should be up and running by June.

The village orchard, now in its third year, has 150 assorted fruit trees all sponsored by supporters. There are 45 different kinds of apples and it even has some tea bushes.

Fundraising, including house concerts and village events and sales, has brought in around £3,000 towards the cost of the classroom so far.

Argyll and Bute Trust, Mull and Iona Community Trust and its Waterfall hydro fund have helped financially and, although more money is still needed, the orchard group is determined to have it up and running soon.

Mike Shilson, from the community orchard, said: ‘It will be a community build with no walls so even on a dreich day our youngsters and people can come up here and still be connected to the outside.

‘From little acorns, big trees grow.’

A teacher whose friend sponsored a fruit tree at the orchard in her name, was so inspired after a visit that she created a similar orchard back at her school in a deprived area of Edinburgh.

Land for the Dervaig orchard is on a 15-year lease from the Forestry Commission, which also gave a grant towards the trees. Next to it on the site of a former tip is a wheelchair-friendly willow maze.

It was the orchard group which came up with the idea of a celebration day on May 3 at the village hall to promote the work of the island’s many community groups, from 3pm to 5pm.

Invites to come and showcase their work have gone out across the island and Mull Music Makers will be putting on a performance at 4.30pm, receiving donations from drinks and cakes.

At  5pm MSP Michael Russell will be addressing Mull Native Woodland Group’s first annual general meeting.

‘What we have got here on Mull is something to celebrate. What we have in Dervaig is really special but there are so many community groups doing great work that we thought lets share the celebration and promote us all,’ Mr Shilson added.

Anyone interested in taking part in the celebration day can email