Garden experts stepped in to plant an orchard at a school after an official planting was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An edible hedgerow and orchard avenue has now been created at St Mary's School in Bridport.

The official planting was due to be held over two days on March 25 and 26, involving a large team of volunteers ready to help, advice and tools to be available, as well as hot drinks and cake.

But the school had to close because of the coronavirus lockdown and the planting was cancelled.

Sarah Wilberforce, volunteer coordinator of the edible garden and director of Transition Town Bridport, said: "By this time all the trees and the wild harvest saplings had been dug out of the ground and delivered. So the trees, their supports and cardboard protectors were planted by five brilliant garden and tree experts – Mitch, Martin, Tia, Sam and Sarah. They kept their distance very carefully."

A handful of children still attending the school - the children of key workers - planted the 105 saplings of the hedgerow the next day.

Sarah said: "We can look forward to harvesting apples, pears, plums, figs and cherries in a year or two. Furthermore, the hedge will create beautiful blossom in the Spring, and foraging of nuts and berries in the autumn."

Having trees and shrubs within the school grounds is part of the Skilling Hill Road school's threefold aim of tackling climate change, enhancing biodiversity and providing fruit.

Building an orchard and planting an edible hedgerow teaches children about the role of trees in cleaning air, absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen.

Money was raised for the fruit trees through a sponsored ‘litter picking’ month. This event, helped by Joe Hackett of Litter Free Dorset, raised around £500.

Many families of children at the school have sponsored a specific tree and it is hoped an event will be able to run in the autumn celebrating this achievement, as well as inviting supporters.

Sarah said she is grateful to Dorset Council Community Fund, Kitson and Trotman and AONB for their support and others who gave help ‘in kind’.

Anyone who would like to sponsor Tia and Mitch, part-time gardeners, should pay money into Transition Town Bridport account sort code 08-92-99 acct no 65372278 marked 'Edible Garden' with their name.