A COMMUNITY orchard in the Borders is celebrating the recruitment of its first orchard animateur, thanks to a funding boost.

The Crailing Community Orchard near Jedburgh recently recruited Juliet Porter as its first orchard animateur after receiving £5,000 from the Scottish Government Rural and Island Communities Idea into Action Fund.

The funding means Juliet can take on the short-term role as part of a pilot project to bring new people to the orchard.

Although Juliet is only expected to remain in the post until the end of March, she is excited to begin her work.

She said: "I'm really excited to be given the opportunity to work alongside volunteers to develop Crailing Community Orchard.

"Our initial priority will be to improve the capacity for people to enjoy the space, creating pathways and picnic spots.

"I will be working hard to raise the profile of the orchard as I'd like everyone within our community to feel that the orchard is their space, a place where we can all connect and reconnect with nature."

The Crailing Community Orchard grown a variety of orchard fruits, offers training opportunities in orchard skills and also runs activities which encourage biodiversity in the orchard.

No previous experience is required for anyone looking to get involved with the orchard.

The orchard has a range of apples, pears and damsons, and is an ideal place to meet new people.

Previous activities at the orchard have included workdays – such as winter and summer pruning and apple picking – and seasonal events like a community wassail and apple day.

The next event hosted by the orchard will be a wassail on Sunday, January 29 at 2.30pm for a 3pm start.

Wassails are ancient ceremonies where orchards are blessed for a good harvest, and feature a procession around the orchard, clattering pots and pans, to drive out evil spirits.

An old tree will also be decorated with a piece of toast dipped in spicy apple juice as a thank you to the tree and to bring robins to the orchards – believed to be guardians of orchards.

For more information on the orchard and the wassail, visit the Crailing Community Orchard's Facebook page.