Roots for the Future and Charterhouse School have recently completed 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 takes social responsibility seriously. At the heart of the school is a commitment to the wider world. The school’s founder, Thomas Sutton gave the school the motto Deo Dante Dedi – ‘God having given, I gave’ – and there is no question that he expected those who benefitted from a Charterhouse education to give back to society.

Carthusians 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, known as Yearlings the first year in the school.

To improve and build on a memorial site previously worked on, as part of the World War One centenary activities the school has engaged in, the first three sets planted a thicket of trees in the shape of a poppy. The petals of the poppy are represented by copper beech tree saplings, with the stem made up of oaks. The boys measured out the shape and accurate distance between the trees and then planted the little saplings correctly to give them the best start in life. 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.

With a tradition of service within the school that means all pupils make a meaningful contribution to society, it was necessary for each workshop to highlight 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: they give us the oxygen we breathe, they absorb and store the carbon emitted from vehicles and industrial activity, they mitigate flooding because water sinks into soil under trees at 70 times the rate it sinks under grass, they improve our air quality.

Not forgetting all the aesthetic and social benefits of trees! Green spaces make us feel better and more resilient to stress, which is why the boys left each workshop a little more “zen” than when they arrived. They seemed genuinely surprised by how fun it was spending time outside appreciating and improving their school grounds, despite the chilly temperatures.

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 are keen to watch their trees grow throughout their time at school and, after the initial disappointment of hearing how slowly trees grow, they 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. With the sun gently setting in the background, any scepticism amongst the boys about “sticking plants in the ground” dissipated.


The boys seemed proud of their participation in improving their community’s environment and we think many other school pupils in the vicinity would benefit from our educational tree planting workshops. Get in touch to find out more.