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A seed is planted

An apple for the teacher has taken on a new meaning in Glasgow with the work of an initiative called the Wee Apple Project.

All over the city, pupils are planting fruit trees to encourage healthy eating, enterprising activity, environmental awareness and active citizenship.

The project aims to encourage children to plant the trees and learn how to look after them, as well as to eat the fruit. It also enriches bio-diversity in the city as birds, insects and other wildlife benefit from the fruit.

It is being run under the auspices of Glasgow Children's Orchard, an outreach project from The Children's Garden, based at Glasgow Botanic Gardens, with support from the council's education and land services departments. John Hancox, project director of the Glasgow Children's Orchard, says: "The Wee Apple project has engaged with about 60 Glasgow schools, and the great thing is how schools have started to work together to achieve the common aims of planting trees.

"High school groups have helped to plant trees in nurseries and special educational needs schools, and non-denominational and Catholic schools have come together to plant trees.

"There are a lot of very positive community benefits coming up through this city-wide environmental project, which we never really expected when it began."

Battlefield is one of a number of primary schools which have become involved - through its eco-committee. Last month, P56 pupils planted an orchard of about 40 trees in the shape of a heart in the centre of Queen's Park.

Catriona Brown, principal teacher, described it as a "fabulous project"

because it tied together everything from the pupils' eco-work, healthy eating, science, and language work. The opportunity to plant the trees with volunteers from Halifax Bank of Scotland, which has helped with funding, was also good for their social development, she says.

In the next few weeks Mr Hancox will be returning to the school to demonstrate how an apple press works, and do some follow-up sessions with the pupils. Gardening is one of the options in weekly "golden time" and the chance to work in the school greenhouse is very popular.

In other schools, apple expert John Butterworth has been displaying his collection of 200 Scottish and old-fashioned apples.

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