As a community interest company limited by guarantee we are obliged to report our activities each year to Companies House. This blog is adapted from the section which asks for a general account of the company’s activities in the year, along with how they have benefited the community. This reflects our activities in our third year of operation.

Community events

Haslemere residents joined us to plant trees on a Saturday in February in an area of predominately social housing. Around 30 people of all ages came out to enjoy the sunshine, a cup of tea with neighbours and do something great for their community. The afternoon started with a run around and with our freelance forest school leader getting the younger participants involved activities such as making windmills out of foraged bark and twigs.

Everyone got the chance to plant a tree. Some local Guides came along as part of the work they needed to do to get their community badge. We had a few local councillors attend, Cllrs Robert Knowles and Stephen Mulliner who were Waverley borough councillors at the time. It was a lovely day out for the families who were encouraged to continue to visit their trees and water them during dry spells.

This was one of two workshops funded by Community Foundation Surrey. The other is planned for Farnham. Due to complications out of our control, the Farnham event has had to be postponed several times. At the time of writing, we are hoping to be able to deliver it in Autumn 2020.

School events

We held several educational workshops with schools. An exciting new collaboration between Godalming Junior School and Roots for the Future had 13 of the school’s Eco Warriors planting trees in their local park. On the first day of spring 13 Eco Warriors, from 8 to 10 years of age, joined us to plant several trees of various species in Canon Bowrings recreation ground with the permission of Waverley Borough Council.

Godalming Juniors’ team of Eco Warriors has been working hard to help save the planet by being eco-friendly around the school whilst learning about the causes of and solutions to climate change. Planting with the Eco Warriors from Godalming Junior was a perfect collaboration. These children are already passionate about the environment and will pass on what they learn through tree planting to their classmates.

We had a great conversation about what we can all do in the fight against climate change such as flying less, driving less, taking public transport, eating less meat, switching energy providers to 100% renewable. We also talked about Greta Thunberg and how she began a solo protest in Sweden in August 2018 and inspired students around the globe in more than 100 countries to go on “strike”, demanding the political elite urgently address the climate emergency. At that time she had recently been nominated for the Nobel peace prize. One day one of the eco warriors might be nominated for a prize for their work saving the planet!

We held a wonderful planting event at Ladywell spiritual retreat in March. We invited Year 5 from St Edmunds to plant a hedgerow at Ladywell’s request. We planted Dogrose, Bird cherry, Plum cherry, Rowan, and Spindle. All will flower or fruit at different times and provide wildlife with a home and food. We started off the afternoon discussing climate change and the environmental impact we all have on the earth. The class knew a huge amount about climate crises, such as hurricanes, deforestation, wildfires, as well as what we can all do to help slow down the effects of climate change.

Before planting we explored the woods that are already there, identifying the different trees – not easy in winter when there are no leaves. These children are so well informed, they impressed the Sisters from the convent who came along to help plant. With such a huge range of aged participants, it was a truly intergenerational workshop.

The St Edmund’s pupils only got halfway along the area for the hedgerow despite planting 170 saplings so in came the local cubs to plant the rest of it. Cubs’ programme offers a huge variety of activities including getting involved in their local communities. So tree planting with Roots for the Future was an ideal activity for the 4th Godalming Cubs. 19 cubs and their siblings and parents came along to plant the remaining 170 saplings to make up the 340 tree hedge.

These educational workshops with the Cubs, St Edmund’s and Godalming Junior were funded by Greggs environmental fund and the two at Ladywell were subsidised by the convent as they wanted many more trees planted than the grant allowed.

Roots for the Future and Charterhouse School completed a second year of planting sessions together. The planting projects fit well into the school’s commitment to social responsibility and to instilling a sense of citizenship in their pupils. With a tradition of service within the school that means all pupils make a meaningful contribution to society, our workshops highlighted the importance of individual responsibility in the fight against climate change.

Charterhouse takes social responsibility seriously. 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? The boys seemed proud of their contribution, helping to improve their school’s grounds, the local environment and a making their own small but significant difference to combating global climate change.

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 were invited by Godalming Town Council to hold an event at Staycation, Godalming’s summer celebration. Funded by Waverley borough council, the general public was encouraged to become a tree guardian with Roots for the Future. The free intergenerational drop in workshop was held at Broadwater Park Community Centre where participants decorated pots and planted tree seeds in them. They learnt how to care for the trees until they are big enough to plant in the ground and officially become a Roots for the Future tree guardian. The idea is that one day if the seedlings grow well, the tree guardians can join us at one of our outdoor tree planting events to plant the tree with us. We had a steady flow of tree seed potters, including the Mayor and Mayoress of Godalming town Council.

Funders

We received funding from Greggs, Community Foundation Surrey, Waverley Borough Council, Waitrose, and money we independently fundraised.

Engaging institutions

We used our third year to deepen our relationships with many individuals from relevant institutions in our community and widen our network. This included our borough and town councils, and the officers and councillors who work for them.

We continued to build corporate social responsibility links with local businesses establishing mutually beneficial relationships.

We also built more links with more schools to scope out planting opportunities that complement the school curriculum.

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.

Corporate support

Ladywell convent and spiritual retreat employed us to engage in woodland management and subsidised two planting events that took place on their land.

The local Tesco store got involved with the Haslemere community planting event. Their community outreach officer lives on the estate we held the event on and when she saw a poster promoting the event, she contacted us to get involved. As a local, she was able to further promote the event, invite neighbours, and the store donated refreshments for the participants.

We featured in Waitrose’s Community Matters fund at our local Godalming store. The money we received helped with our operational costs.

A local construction business supports our work with an annual donation.

The numbers

We planted at total of 500 trees during our third year of operation:

  • 20 medium sized trees in Waverley Borough Council owned parks
  • 140 whips at Charterhouse School
  • 340 saplings at Ladywell Spiritual Retreat