In March Roots for the Future led 14 tree planting workshops with each class at Loseley Field’s primary school in Godalming. Thanks to a grant from Godalming Town Council we planted 610 saplings and 13 semi-established trees into two new hedgerows covering a 122 m total area, as well as an orchard of 9 fruit trees.
Loseley Fields Primary School is on the edge of Godalming and serves its local community in an area of higher than average deprivation. Set within six acres of grounds, children develop confidence and self-esteem through hands on experiences in the natural environment. The collaboration between the school and Roots for the Future, which brings people together to make a positive difference to their environment through tree planting, has been an ideal project.
We ran 45 minute workshops for each class, starting with a discussion highlighting how trees are crucial to maintaining a sustainable environment. This was followed by the fun and muddier bit; showing the pupils how easy it is to make a lasting positive difference to the planet with the simple but effective act of planting a tree.
Hedgerow planting is ideal for engaging large groups of people because many saplings are planted close together. Two spaces needed hedging both for the benefit of nature and to soften newly installed fences in the wildlife outdoor education area. So we planted Beech, Hazel, Field Maple, Dogwood, Alder and Bird Cherry around the fenced pond, and along the new fence next to the parking area.
Additionally we planted 7 Alder and 6 Beech trees that were larger, semi-established trees, one per class.
Tree planting tackles local-level environmental problems such as poor air quality and flooding, both of which affect us here in South West Surrey. And as trees are also effective carbon sequesters, the project won funding from Godalming Town Council’s new Carbon Reduction & Biodiversity Fund.
Town councillors Shirley Faraday and Gerry Boyle visited a workshop each to see how the planting was coming along, and got the chance to help plant some of the larger trees.
Loseley Field’s grounds and facilities allow the school to integrate outdoor education into their curriculum. With SEND and deprivation being higher at Loseley than the average school in Surrey, the school recognises the multiple benefits of working in the natural environment on their pupil’s wellbeing and emotional development.
We chose the Orchard planting workshop for the SEND pupils. Planting nine bare-root fruit trees, the class created a small orchard close to the eco-therapy outdoor learning space. The trees will provide biodiversity, beautiful blossom, fruit and shade in years to come. Bare-root trees require large holes to be dug – the right sort of activity for children who benefit from a physically hard, practical challenge. The class was the best young team of bare root planters I have ever worked with. They listened and observed intently during the demonstration and followed the instructions brilliantly. It was extremely impressive.
This project was the largest Roots for the Future has ever delivered. It was a joy to work on from start to finish and would not have been possible without Godalming Town Council, the school’s enthusiasm, the support of the school’s eco-therapist Kris and care taker Aleks, the advice of our friend Sue from Surrey Wildlife Trust and volunteer/forest leader/mum Anna.
We envisage that our focus on children and young people will help to inspire the next generation to address climate change with nature-based solutions. What with the buzz felt around the school during the three weeks we were there, and all the peer learning that took place about trees and climate change solutions, I am pretty confident the children felt inspired.
Get in touch to involve your school in tree planting with Roots for the Future.