NURTURING A COMMUNITY: Karen Halliday, from It Takes a Town, and granddaughter Estelle Gravenall look forward to the fruit tree trail proposed for Murwillumbah.
NURTURING A COMMUNITY: Karen Halliday, from It Takes a Town, and granddaughter Estelle Gravenall look forward to the fruit tree trail proposed for Murwillumbah. Liana Turner

Fruity plans to connect town

THERE'S nothing quite like a piece of fruit fresh off the tree, and that's something one community group hopes to make more accessible to Murwillumbah residents.

Carmen Stewart from It Takes a Town said the group planned to plant a trail of fruit trees throughout parks in the town.

"It's about creating an opportunity ... for a flood-affected community,” Ms Stewart said.

"The idea is to get fruit trees, about 50 of them, into both council parks and in people's gardens.”

Ms Stewart said the trees on private land would overhang public pathways, allowing passers-by to share in the fruit without having to enter the owner's yard.

She said 30 residents had already put up their hand to plant one of the trees in their yard.

Ms Stewart said those who elected to care for a tree would be given material to tend it for two years.

"It's really about getting kids out and about with their families, getting them into the parks and having a discussion about your food and how it's grown,” she said.

Ms Stewart said residents and those sleeping rough could both share in the fruits of the project, something she felt was crucial to bind the community together.

"It Takes a Town is a project about growing generations and benefiting everyone in the community,” Ms Stewart said.

"It's giving something to people who feel like they have nothing.”

Ms Stewart said sharing was a huge part of the group's community-spirited ethos which they have been driving since the March floods which tore through the town.

But she said the group was "disappointed” with claims the fruit trail, planned for the central and southern parts of Murwillumbah, would attract a swarm of bats and drug addicts into the town.

She said the group sought the advice of a horticulturist to mitigate the risk of attracting flying foxes from a colony that nests in a nature reserve next to Hundred Hills Estate, 4.5km from Murwillumbah's central hub.

"We've specifically gone for species (of fruit tree) that don't attract fruit bats,” she said.

"Bats like orchards, but we're just going to be having small clusters in a few parks.”

Ms Stewart said citrus, cherry trees and native bush tucker would be prominent in the trail.

She said the project had been given the green light on an "internal” basis by the Tweed Shire Council, but it has not been before a general meeting and it's understood it has not been officially approved.

The council's unit co-ordinator for recreational services Matt McCann said some of the species proposed could not be given the go-ahead for planting on road reserves.

"The fruit trail project would be a good collaboration with the new Murwillumbah Community Garden, and council will facilitate that connection in whatever way it can,” Mr McCann said.

"Fruit trees are predominantly exotic species and as council's planting guidelines specify a high percentage of endemic and native plantings, the trail would not be permitted in the road reserves.”

Mr McCann said there would also be some concerns with the tree maintenance and fruit "causing slips or being used as missiles”.

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