One of the fruit orchards planted in Portlaoise
A Portlaoise group have planted about 100 fruit trees to create free community orchards all around the town.
Portlaoise Tidy Towns have planted plum, apple, pear and cherry trees in five locations this week, a gesture of hope in a time of anxiety over the Covid-19 crisis.
Many are near schools, so that young people can learn how to harvest and cook with the fruits.
The work is part of the group's project to make Portlaoise 'A Town in a Garden'.
They hope to ensure some safe local food supplies long into the future, as well as providing vital habitats for pollinators and birds.
Gerry Browne is chairman of the group and he said they went ahead despite the current crisis while practicing the HSE recommended social distancing.
"We had planned this before Covid-19 as part of our Love Where You Live work. Everyone can 'rob' the orchards in years to come. We look forward to nurturing the trees. They will need a bit of ongoing work with pruning and potash but we have people in Tidy Towns who can do that. Local people are always welcome to come out and help," he said.
The orchards are in groups of about 20 trees each on public roadside green areas. Three are off the Southern Circular Route, in Aughnaharna, beside the Portlaoise Retail Park and beside the Summerhill school campus. One is on the Ridge Road near Esker Hills, and one outside the Borris road school campus near Ashley Gardens housing estate.
They were funded with a grant the group gets from Laois County Council and they bought them in the local garden centre T&C Garden Centre, choosing native Irish trees as much as possible.
"We hope it gives people a lift particularly at this time. I feel it shows how our town has come on, there is a great civic pride here now, a great buzz," Gerry said.
The group are going to continue litter picking the town, using necessary precautions and equipment. Their table quiz cancelled last week will be rescheduled.