Orchard theft dismay

Students at Romsey Primary School have been left devastated after their entire fruit orchard was stripped of its fruit by callous thieves over the Labour Day weekend.
The school had been slowly resurrecting its kitchen garden program and the children loved growing, harvesting and cooking the produce.
Garden volunteer Ellis Parker said their small group of dedicated volunteers were last year successful in receiving Macedon Ranges Council, Bendigo Bank and Landcare grants with the view to bringing their beloved little garden back from the brink after some years of neglect.
“We’re about to put in gravel, mulch and new raised garden beds, plus rows of bay trees, olive trees, lemons and of course seasonal crops grown by and for the children,” Ellie said.
“The outstanding asset in the garden has always been our old espaliered orchard of red currants, plums, nectarines, pears and apples.
“In the summer of 2017/18, Romsey ThriftyLink very kindly gave us enough netting to protect the orchard from the birds and this year, thanks to Thriftylink’s generosity, we were delighted by the most bountiful crop we’ve seen in years.”
Ellie said the volunteers and children picked more than 25 kilos of plums and red currants this term, to be made into jam for the winter months.
“We were very much looking forward to harvesting the most amazingly bountiful crop of pears and apples for our term two cooking sessions, however we were appalled to see that somebody has stolen the entire crop over the Labour Day weekend,” Ellie said.
“Easily over 60kgs of apples and pears were removed, in fact the thieves didn’t leave a single fruit on the tree.
“It was clearly an organised operation as they would have needed ladders, crates and no doubt a ute.
“The children now have no fruit to cook. It’s very disappointing.”
The theft has been reported to the police.
Ellie said any help or donations towards the garden project would be welcome.
“Seedlings to plant for winter veg would be amazing, gravel, mulch or just hands on deck every Monday morning between 9am and 11.30am would be very much appreciated,” she said.

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