Roots for the Future’s activities and impact in our second year

Roots for the Future CIC brings people together to plant trees near to where they live. Our mission is to engage communities in tree planting to cultivate a lasting legacy of environmental sustainability. We envisage a future where communities are inspired to implement natural solutions to climate change. This report reflects our activities in our second year of operation. This report is a general account of Roots for the Future’s activities in our second year of operation and how they have benefited the communities we have worked in.

Community events

We held two community tree planting events in and around Godalming during the 2017-18 planting season. One was held in Farncombe on Saturday 17th February at Canon Bowrings Recreation Ground. 30 children and 20 adults came out to make a difference to their community. The large green space makes a lovely new home to 30 oak saplings which have ambitions to be large oak trees like the two ancient oak trees already in the park. The little oaks we planted will provide continuity for future generations.

Farncombe residents of all ages were welcomed. The afternoon started with forest school games for the children while the adults watched on, mingling with their neighbours and taking the opportunity to meet Godalming’s Town Mayor and other councillors.

The other event was on the green on Amberley Rd in Milford. According to the father of one of our board members, the green used to have several trees on it, until it became a grassy traffic circle at the end of a close. Waverley Borough council was keen to add trees to it. Residents of the surrounding area joined us to plant some medium sized semi-established oak trees on Saturday 10th February. As always it was an afternoon of mingling, forest school games for children, tree planting and refreshments.

School events

Root for the Future and Charterhouse School entered into an exciting collaboration. The project fitted neatly into the school’s commitment to social responsibility and to instilling a sense of citizenship in their pupils. Charterhouse students and teachers understand that the privilege of learning at such a well-resourced school with beautiful grounds brings with it a responsibility to give back, and to give a hand up to the next generation. What better way to do that than to plant trees that will benefit future generations?

Over the period of several months, Roots for the Future led workshops with each of the six sets of year nine to improve and build on a memorial site previously worked on. As part of the World War One centenary activities the school engaged in, the first three sets planted a thicket of trees in the shape of a poppy. In years to come, the poppy shaped woodland should be quite a spectacle from the sky and having been planted by pupils of the school, is a fitting tribute to the many hundreds of fallen Carthusians.

The workshops highlighted the importance of individual responsibility in the fight against climate change. The boys learnt some wonderful facts about how integral trees are to life on earth. Because trees and hedgerows prevent soil erosion and give nature a home, two sets planted some hedgerows at another site on the school grounds. Field maple, red oak and beech saplings were used to improve a bank next to one of the entrance roads. The boys understood their role in planting roots for the future. A frightening statistic really brought it home – 15 billion trees are cut down globally each year and with only five billion replanted, that rate of deforestation means that in 300 years’ time there will be no trees left on earth. The final set got to plant an orchard of plum, cherry, apple and pear trees in an almost-secret garden that has a lovely view over the valley. In the spring the blossom will be beautiful from the opposite hill.

A second school collaboration was between Roots for the Future, the Garden House and St Dominic’s School, both in Hambeldon, south west Surrey. The Garden House is a sustainable land use project with a focus on wildlife, education, therapeutic and community benefit. St Dominic’s School specialises in the education of children with autism.

We planted a hedgerow. Older hedgerows support an amazing diversity of plants and animals, providing wildlife a home and food. Butterflies, dormice, bank voles, harvest mice, hedgehogs, bats and birds all benefit. They also prevent soil erosion and store carbon to help combat climate change so they are fantastic for the environment too. In all we planted 75 saplings to form the hedge that will benefit lots of lovely critters, as well as the environment itself.

Wider community benefits

The workshops act as a call to action to enable people to do something positive together that benefits their community, as well as for the good of humanity. Tree planting has multiple benefits to those who take part and to the wider community. Trees are amazing, not only do they provide us with the oxygen we breathe and absorb and store the carbon emitted from vehicles and industrial activity, they also mitigate other climate change related issues such as flooding because water sinks into soil under trees at 70 times the rate it sinks under grass. Trees absorb pollution and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark, helping to improve air quality.

Trees provide communities with many social benefits. Green spaces make us feel better and more resilient to stress. Studies show that when people are recovering in hospital, if they can see a tree outside their window, they get better more quickly than those who can’t. And it is reported that trees cut crime and anti-social activity.

With a world urbanising fast, and most of us now living in cities rather than in rural places, it is inevitable that green space will be increasingly occupied by development. Tree planting is an important part of development, not only for all the reasons laid out above, but also because as the temperatures rise each summer, we need trees to cool our towns and cities. Trees shade our offices, homes, car parks and streets by breaking up the heat traps generated by concrete and by releasing water vapour into the air through their leaves.

Community outreach

We reached out to the community to raise our profile at as many community events as possible. We held stalls at festivals such as Godalming’s Town Council spring fair, we were invited to hold an event at Staycation, Godalming’s summer celebration.

Funders

 We received funding from CALA Homes, the Postcode Lottery, National Lottery, Lloyds Bank and the local Roundtable as well as private support from local businesses who invested in our work.

Deepening impact

 Co-Founder and Director of Roots for the Future Francesca Fryer completed the Lloyds Bank School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) at the Hampshire school. Over 12 months participants took an idea or fledgling enterprise to the next level in order to tackle some of the most complex issues of our time. These include social injustice, health related problems or environmental issues, such as food waste, climate change, dementia, disability, mental health and well-being. Having completed the course, we have developed the tools to make our social enterprise even more successful.

The SSE supports innovative grassroots projects – great ideas from people with first-hand experience of social issues. The school enables people who have identified an unmet social need to use entrepreneurial approaches to create a sustainable solution to address the issue. Each month in Winchester Francesca learnt how to set develop a business model, ensure impact, establish social purpose and build confidence in our leadership.

It was a fantastic experience and Roots for the Future has more tools for success and new friends who will continue to support us as we grow and carry on making a difference to communities and the environment.

Engaging institutions

We used our second year to deepen our relationships with many individuals from relevant institutions in our community and widen our network. This included

  • Our county, borough and town councils and the officers and councillors who work for them.
  • We continued to build corporate social responsibility links with local businesses through our fundraising activities, establishing relationships which are mutually beneficial.
  • We held many meetings with employees of non-profit organisations to scope out collaborations, some of which are coming into fruition in our third year of operation.
  • We also built more links with schools to scope out planting opportunities that can complement the school curriculum.
  • We were invited to speak at the VASWS (Voluntary Action South West Surrey) conference where Co-Founder and Director of Roots for the Future Francesca Fryer gave a presentation on what inspired us to set up our social enterprise.

Awareness raising

Using a mixture of offline and online communications, we raised awareness of our activities and how to get involved. We used local press, including a county wide newspaper and more local newspapers and magazines, to celebrate our achievements and to invite people to get involved. We built our online presence through a mixture of social media accounts and communicating to our audiences through our website and blog.

The numbers

We held 9 planting events which directly engaged a total of around 250 people in planting around 300 trees in our second year of operation. Those 250 people have been enabled to do something positive together that benefits their community, as well as for the good of humanity. Those positively affected indirectly by the tree planting are hard to count but for all the reasons laid out in “Wider community benefits” we believe the effects are far-reaching.