Blooming at Bloomsbury Park Tree Planting!

As 30 eager children waited in their school reception area BTfL asked, ‘are you ready to plant some trees?’ ‘Yeeesssss!’ Came the excited reply. Year six pupils from Cromwell Junior and Infant School in Nechells couldn’t wait to get to Bloomsbury Park where the rest of the BTfL team were waiting for the children’s arrival.

A sense of celebration and ownership came from the children about the park. ‘This is our park, we come here all the time.’ One student exclaimed.  ‘I hope my mum is watching out of our flat window to see me planting trees in the park.’  After a brief safety talk from BTfL we could see the children were itching to get going.

The children put on their gloves and stood to attention with their spades in hand awaiting instructions. We explained that we were planting 10 trees in the park, five Prunus Royal Burgundy, Flowering Cherry and five Betula Albosinensis Fascintion, Floweing Cherry. In a few summers time Bloomsbury Park, will be positively blooming with the blossoms from the ten trees planted today, adorning the park with lots of lovely colour.

 

‘Are these our trees? One student asked. ‘Yes, they are your trees, and they are everyone’s trees to enjoy and celebrate and enjoy,’ BTfL explained. The children rounded into groups of threes’ and fours’ and worked brilliantly as a team, sharing spades and working together with smiles and a lot of pride as the children explained that this is the first tree they had ever planted. – Let’s hope it’ not the last!

There were lots of questions from the children as the dug their spades into the mounds of earth, asking what the catkins on the trees were, how many squirrels live in the park.’ We couldn’t answer the squirrel question, but we tried to spot as many squirrels as we could in that hour and asked the children to do some squirrel spotting next time they came to enjoy the park. Filling in these large holes, keeping the trees straight as the earth was thrown in was tiring work, but the children kept up the good work.

 

They were clearly very proud when they saw the ten trees standing to attention in a perfect like along the boundaries of the park path. And as we shovelled the last mound of earth into the last hole the children were already asking when they could plant more trees. Positively blooming with pride at their achievements.

Never have trees been so talked about, never have trees been so important in defeating the climate crisis. It’s clear the children of Cromwell Junior and Infant School know all about trees and their benefit and we urge them to share their enthusiasm about trees with every person they meet.

Let’s not forget how beautiful trees are and for children living in inner city areas trees are especially good for their physical and mental wellbeing. We hope these children learn to love trees for their aesthetic and healing properties. So, next time you are in Bloomsbury Park or any other wonderful place with a tree.

Just learn to be – with a tree!

Please check out the rest of the photo album for our Bloomsbury Park planting by clicking here

 

Tree Planting with St Alban’s School Amongst the Giant Redwood Trees!

Our first school planting of National Tree Week and what a treat it was to do it in the wonderful company of St Alban’s Catholic School, year-six students. Thirty students who were enthusiastic, excited, curious and full of energy. It was another soggy day, full of mud, mud glorious mud at Brandwood Cemetery!

Brandwood Cemetery Tree Planting with St. Alban’s Catholic School

Wellies caked in the good stuff these wonderful students couldn’t wait to get hold of their spades to dig in the 10 wonderful trees, two Crab Apple, two Oak, two Sweet Gum, two Tulip Trees and two Flowering Cherry. Care and consideration was taken to dig them down, make sure they were straight and smile proudly next to their newly planted trees for photos. One student saying, ‘I love the mud, it’s great to get covered in it while planting trees.’

As well as St Alban’s students’ we had other special guests too. To help us celebrate National Tree Week the Lord Lieutenant, Mr John Crabtree, OBE, the Queen’s representative in the West Midlands came to help at the planting.

It was wonderful to welcome such a special guest. Mr Crabtree was accompanied by his wife, Diana and with spades in hand both worked with the children planting the trees.  There was lots of chatter and laughter and talk of the wonder of trees and the beautiful Brandwood Cemetery.

We also welcomed, Mike Leddy, Labour Councillor for the Ward of Brandwood and Kings Heath, it was lovely to be in such great company.  Not to mention the wonderful, Friends of Brandwood Cemetery.

Brandwood Cemetery Tree Planting with St. Alban’s Catholic School

Then the children and our guests worked so hard we stopped for some well-earned, tea and biscuits. Pulling off muddy boots in the boot room of the Brandwood End Cemetery Lodge was a skill-in-itself. There was giggles and laughter as 30-children tried so hard to pull off those slippery boots.  And there was a moment we thought we had brought more mud in with us than what was left outside! But nothing gets those energy levels zipping back up than a tea-break. While the whole crowd drank tea and ate biscuits there was lots of talk about trees, important conversations under the banner of Communitea! A wonderful way for communities to engage with each other about the matters that we all care about.

After a well-earned rest the children were eager to learn a little bit of history about Brandwood End Cemetery and enjoyed a nature walk with Birmingham City Council Ranger, Dean Paul and Birmingham Trees for Life.

Dean pointed out beautiful oak trees over 500-yers-old. ‘Wow! The children gasped in unison. But as wondrous and beautiful as every tree is in Brandwood Cemetery – it was the Giant Redwoods that dominated the day. With necks craned upwards staring at the 110-ft tall majestic line of Giant Redwood trees the children were eager to find out as much as they could about their history. Hands stretched up into to the air, Dean answered all their quick-fire questions.

‘Yes, these trees were around before the dinosaurs…., they are the tallest trees on the planet…., they are the second biggest organism in the world…., they absorb more carbon dioxide than any other tree…., their root system is 50-ft deep…, they are resistant to insects, fire and rot…., they will be 50-ft taller in 50-years!

Their teacher Catherine Ingram said, ‘our children have had a wonderfully new experience today with Birmingham Trees for Life and they have learnt a lot of really interesting stuff about trees!’

Brandwood Cemetery Tree Planting with St. Alban’s Catholic School

When we arrived at the cemetery there were 1800 trees standing proudly. At the end of the planting we celebrated planting ten more. Ten more trees every student that planted can visit again and again – a legacy they can all enjoy.

Seeing the children’s enthusiasm, somehow we don’t think this will be their last visit to the cemetery to enjoy the wide and varied collection of trees, the trees they planted today and of course the, Giant Redwoods. To see more photos from Brandwood Cemetery planting please click here.

our wonderful group of volunteers

‘We’re Going to Save The World – One Tree at A Time!’

On the first day of National Tree week BTfL got off to a wonderful start with the help of some amazing volunteers! Handsworth Park was the place, planting trees to mark the, James Watt Bicentennial Celebrations and National Tree Week were the occasions.

What started out as a dank and dreary morning soon turned into a wonderful community celebration of trees and togetherness, a common cause, a progressive dynamic when 42 volunteers arrived, including nine children to support this very special planting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a safety and tree planting talk with Simon Needle, Principal Arboriculturalist, at Birmingham City Council the volunteers were eager to grab a spade and find their X-marks the spot – even the nine excited children who were looking forward to playing in the mud and finding worms!

 

     

We were planting 10 standard Hazel and Walnut trees, both a wonderful food source for birds and Small animals. Digging deep it was hard work, but no one even stopped mid planting for a cuppa. Everyone was super eager to get these wonderful trees in the ground and add to the beauty and biodiversity of Handsworth Park.

As well as the local-residents taking pride in their park, other volunteers had come from much further afield to plant trees. One lady from Kidderminster proudly told us while digging a hole, ‘I came, because trees are so important and we have to save the planet one tree at a time’

‘Here, here,’ we applauded.

There was a determined stance from some of the younger planters too.  Angad, 12, said, ‘I told my mum, it’s your generation that has spoilt the planet, it’s time we started putting it right, that’s why we are here to plant trees, to do something positive.’

We are never surprise and always delighted at the younger generation’s determination to make their planet healthy again.

There were 10-members form Green Welfare who came from all over the country to help plant trees. Getting stuck in immediately there was a real sense of pride at digging down and securing the trees in the ground.

 

Then there was Matty, here with his Mum and his two sisters, Matty, a toddler became the cutest measuring stick of all. When Matty stood in the hole and the hole came up to his waist we knew the hole was just deep enough to plant the tree!

Digging down Matty’s mum placed Matty in the hole, not quite deep enough, more digging and she tried again, still not quite deep enough.

Third time lucky Matty’s mum held Matty in the hole again, it was the perfect depth! There was applause and cheers and some laughter as Matty’s mum and lifted Matty out of the hole.

Who says a toddler can’t plant trees too – not us!

  Matty’s mum said. ‘We’ve never planted a tree publically before, but we came because we use this park a lot. It’s good to be part of something good and it will be lovely to watch these trees grow.’

All morning there was a distinct sound of spades cutting through earth, tree stakes being hammered into the ground as well as chatter and laughter all morning between volunteers. 42 strangers together like they had known each other forever.

That’s the thing about doing something for the common good, it brings people together, it makes us happier, we feel empowered, proud and like a team.

We’re not just planting trees to save our environment and make the park look even more beautiful. We are investing in each other, by celebrating our common goals out in the fresh air, enjoying exercise, and everything Birmingham’s beautiful green spaces offers.

Every tree planted that day is testament to National Tree Week and a legacy to everyone who stuck a spade in the ground to plant a tree. A legacy that will last the lifespan of these trees, that’s 80 to 100-years!

Something these volunteers can show and tell their children and their grandchildren.

What a fantastic prospect!

Please click here to see more photos of this event

 

National Tree Week Begins – What Can You Do? Pledge to Plant a Tree or Two!

Well, today is the first day of National Tree week 23rd November – 1st December

Apart from celebrate this wonderful occasion what else can you do – pledge to plant a tree or two!   

 

 

 

 

 

 

Look around you wherever you go, outside your front door, the local park, a city street, your nearest school, or community space, your garden, your neighbours garden.

Trees are never far from your eye-line wherever you go or wherever you are.

Imagine just for a moment, a world without trees, not only would we lose their huge environmental value and impact, but their positive affect on our wellbeing, a home and food source for wildlife, and their majestic beauty!

But we need more and more and more trees. By the end of the tree planting season 2019-2020 Birmingham Trees for Life will have planted 90,000 trees in 16-years. But we’re not about to stop any time soon.

One mature tree can absorb 48lbs of CO2 per year. Multiply that by 90,000that’s epic!

 

We spread the message every day that trees do matter – they absorb carbon dioxide, toxins and smells, they produce oxygen, reduce flooding, increase shade, contribute to our overall health and well-being and improve the aesthetics of the landscape.

Throughout the tree planting season of November – March we work with school, communities Friends of Parks, businesses and volunteers to plant more trees.

What we and every individual or community we work with do is -create a tree legacy!

Planting a tree and watching it mature over years is a wonderful experience.

So today Birmingham Trees for Life is asking you for a small, but wonderful pledge!

Ask what you can do?  Plant a tree or two!

You don’t have to plant a huge old oak tree, you don’t need a large space, you don’t even need to be a green fingered guru – you just want to make the world a better place!

Here is a list of of some beautiful, low maintenance, small trees to plant in your garden.

Your own tree legacy in the making….

Rowan – beautiful autumn colour, beautiful flowers in spring which are great for bees, producing berries in late summer which are a good for birds. Many smaller varieties are suitable for gardens.

Crab Apple  – lovely blossom in spring and small apples in autumn which are great food for birds

Cherry – blossom in spring and then small fruits for the birds in autumn, beautiful autumn colour.

            

Hawthorn – lovely blossom in May for the bees and berries in autumn/winter for the birds.

 

Holly – there is a nice variegated variety which doesn’t have very spiny leaves

These are just a few examples of beautiful trees you can plant to improve your environment, make your garden look stunning and attract a wide variety of wildlife.

Always check the eventual height and spread of a tree before buying it for planting in your garden, to check it is an appropriate size for the space they have for it! There is lots of advice on how to plant a tree is available online – click here

Keep young trees regularly well watered for the first two years while in leaf (March-Sept) until they have established a good root spread.

Happy pledging! Happy planting!

 

 

 

 

A Wet and Wild Time of it with St Ambrose Barlow Catholic Primary School

Rain, Rain go away! Well it didn’t and we didn’t care!

Our second tree planting of the season was done in an almost biblical cascade of rain which didn’t cease for even a second! We planted 10 cherry trees at Newey Goodman Park, Hall Green with 29-year-five school children from St Ambrose Barlow Catholic Primary School who can only be described as Super Eco Warriors!

Did the epic rain shower bother the children – No it didn’t! Lining up in the school hall ready for the off, the children were full of facts and figures about trees and what an important environmental impact trees have. It was clear the children wanted to do their part to save the world, explaining that children love trees and the environment, but some grown-ups just don’t.

Clean wellies, dry coats, perky bobble hats and warm gloves were the wardrobe order of the day. We resigned ourselves with a smile that this wouldn’t be the same by the end of the planting. The children’s enthusiasm was unstoppable and as we made our way to the park one student proudly proclaimed while sopping wet. ‘I will do whatever it takes to plant a tree – and he did – they all did!’ When the children got to the park they were eager to start grabbing spades in unison and marching to their assigned tree. Taking instruction like professionals as they listened to the safety talk.’ In their three’s the children were chattering excitedly.  ‘I come to this park with my Granddad, I can’t wait to show him which tree I planted,’ one enthusiastic student said. Councillor Timothy Huxtable, from Hall Green South accompanied us to the planting too. Filling in the holes while keeping these soon to be beautiful cherry trees’ standing up straight in the very muddy mud!

It’s hard to imagine in the wind and rain that these cherry trees will soon be blossoming beautifully in a few summers from now. Mud is something children love and all we could hear was laughter and giggling as it got muddier and muddier and the children got grubbier!


By the end of the planting 10 cheery trees stood proudly in the park, the children were full of smiles as we had our group photo taken. Wellies caked in mud and bobble hats decidedly damp and droopy, the children marched back to school feeling good about their morning’s work. The children were proud of their achievements, despite the weather and were eager to get back to school and share their wet and wild experience with BTfL with the rest of the school.

We would like to at a huge thank you to St Ambrose Barlow Catholic Primary School for their amazing efforts, their enthusiasm was catching. It’ not often we have to work in weather like that and we are just thankful we had such inspiring eco-heroes to help us!

 

To view more photos from this event, please click the link – https://photos.app.goo.gl/oBBML6A1rJ4NYDLh9

 

 

 

Celebrating after planting trees together

And We’re Off – A Great Start to BTfL’s First Tree Planting Event of The Season!

Well – what a great start to our BTfL Planting season 2019 -2020!

Not only did we get off to a flying start with the wonderful children and staff from World’s End Junior School in Quinton, we were also joined by Central News! Eager to film our first tree planting event. We were happy to welcome the Central News team to promote and celebrate the value of tree planting in Birmingham.

Tennal Lane Recreation ground in Quinton was our site today and after so much rain we were delighted the sun decided to shine on us from start to finish.  After a chatty 15-minute walk with 15 excited students and staff from  the school to the site it as quite clear that the students knew all about trees and were eager to share their knowledge and get planting trees – pronto!

Not only did the children understand about the positive environmental impact of trees, especially in big cities like Birmingham. But the true beauty of trees as well. World’s End Junior school pupils waxed lyrical about the splendour of trees and how enriched our live are to be surrounded by such natural beauty!

Do you know the monkey puzzle tree is older than the dinosaurs… Trees are natures lungs…. Trees are home and food to lots of wildlife, the children explained excitedly. As we got to Tennal Lane site there was an excited chant from the children, we love trees, we love trees! And so, say all of us!

Grabbing their spades with energy and enthusiasm the children, staff and some very welcome parents couldn’t wait to plant the ten standard trees. These trees will replace the Poplar trees already at Tennal Lane, which will be felled in the next few years due to their age – sad, but very necessary safety requirement.

But here a new generation of trees have been planted by year-three to year-six children and we celebrate every single one of them. The students of World’s End Junior School live and walk in and around Tennal Lane Recreation Ground regularly and will see their tree planting legacy growing week in week out.

Understanding that in five-months, five-years or in 50-years-time their small and beautiful trees will still be there to love, enjoy and celebrate. And for sure every one of those students will point and say, ‘there’s my tree!’

We understand children love trees, and that they will always love trees they planted today, taking very welcome ownership over these trees. The message they take back home to family, friends and neighbours is – trees are special we should all learn to love them a lot more. It was a special start to a special first day of planting with special students and we say thank you to everyone that joined us for the beginning of BTfL’s tree tree planting season.

Allison Owen’s Headteacher at World’s End Junior School says: “The children were still buzzing two hours after returning from their tree planting with Birmingham Trees For Life. Please keep in contact with us!”

Please see more photographs of our wonderful day tree planting with World’s End Junior School by clicking here

Audley School’s Trip to the Farm – Glebe Farm Park!

As heavy clouds loomed over Glebe Farm Park Recreation Ground, Btfl, Year Four, Audley School children and Mandy Ross, children’s author and poet donned our raincoats and marched down to Glebe Farm Recreation Ground with gusto. We weren’t going to let the threat of heavy rain put us off – and it didn’t.

Year four pupils from Audley School looking for tree seeds
Year four pupils from Audley School at Glebe Farm Park

BTfL had the honour of enjoying a morning with Audley School children learning about trees, nature and the River Cole with Mandy, Birmingham based, Arts Practitioner who led a workshop with the children celebrating nature at Glebe Farm Recreation Ground.

We started our workshop on the short walk to Glebe Farm Recreation Ground, asking the children about their tree memories…

‘My favourite tree is the one with the blue rope that we swing from.’

 ‘I love my Grandparents apple tree, Granddad picks the apples, Nan makes an apple pie.’

‘There is a small tree, I climb into where I can watch bikes and cars racing by.’

 ‘I loved the climbing tree in Sutton Park, I would climb it every time I visited the park, it’s not there anymore.

 ‘My Grandma has a fig tree, but the weather is too cold here so it doesn’t grow.’

Listening to the children’s tree memories was a poignant introduction to the workshop and on our journey to the site we pointed out trees, seeds on the floor and tree roots pushing though slabbed pathways. At the site, we quickly spotted the trees planted by children at Audley School and BTfL over the last eight years. Children were quick to realize that maybe those trees had been planted by older brothers and sisters in previous years.

Standing amongst the young forest, the children were amazed to learn that the trees planted with BtfL and Audley School were the same age as the children and that those trees and the children would grow together! We all stood quietly on the banks of the River Cole and listened to the swishing of trees in the wind and the gentle flow of the River. Asked to describe the river the children, said, ‘wet, mucky, aqua brown, calm, a home for ducks, muddy, flowing!’

Year four pupils from Audley School at the River Cole
Mandy Ross, teaching students about trees planted by BTfL and Audley School

Learning the names of the trees and the connection between the trees and the River Cole was inspiring to the children. We collected, seeds, conkers, leaves and acorns and the children loved the tactile quality of nature. Feeling the spikey conker shells, crunchy leaves and beautiful shiny conkers they were inspired to think about nature. With rosy cheeks glowing from being outside and embracing the elements we walked back to school full of chatter about trees!

Back in class the children were itching to get creative – and so they did. Drawings and quotes inspired by us imagining being a tree or a river, what season we loved, what we felt and saw from nature’s perspective.

Sharing thoughts and feelings about nature and nature’s perspective, enjoying the rhythm of the poem rather than rhyme!

All the children were eager to engage and what followed was a wonderfully imaginative creative poem – and best of all it was a group effort!

 

 

Audley School Year Four Poem

In the city, by the river, here we planted emerald trees.

Willow, Oak and prickly Hawthorne, juicy berries, swishy grass.

In the Autumn, by the river leaves are getting brown and crunchy.

Falling slowly in glimmering water, flowing gently to the sea.

In the summer, by the river, sun is shining on the trees.

And on water, people bringing picnics under shady trees.

In our forest by the river, we protect the baby trees,

To grow with sun and rain and soil, homes for owls, pigeons and squirrels.

The workshop was inspiring, we all agreed and made us think about nature which is always around us, always embracing us. We hope the children were left with a closer bond and a bigger love for nature.

From their enthusiasm, creativity and questions it’s clear the Year Four children of Audley Primary School in Stetchford already had that. And we hope that their passion for the natural world in their neighbourhood continues and grows like the beautiful trees we planted eight years ago.

By Justine Marklew

Trees Join Earth and Sky   Mandy Ross

 

Here are tree memories from many different audience members at the Return to Nature Festival. Tree memories turned in a poignant, heartwarming, beautiful collective poem. We celebrate trees, we celebrate words, we celebrate with each other! 

Collective poem, Return to Nature Festival, Holders Woods, 14 Sept 2019

 

Trees and woods join earth and sky.
Remember a tree? Tell us where? And why?

We ran down the hill, faster and faster,
but we knew which trees would stop us falling.

The tree in our grandparents’ garden
had a bench round the trunk for summer picnics.

We planted a tree to remember my baby sister, Freya.
Now every time we go to my dad’s boxing club, we water it.

Lost trees: a mature oak with her daughters surrounding her,
at the top of Shirley Park. Now all gone, victims of ‘progress.’

Nana’s apple tree, a worm in every apple.

Maybe Grandad will make cider.

Every year we roast chestnuts from the chestnut tree,
eat them hot, share them with our neighbours.

Planting baby trees in a snowy park
to remember our friend Jo, much missed.

Watching the cricket with Dad, under the shade
of the spreading horse chestnut in Kings Heath Park.

Oak after beautiful oak on Offa’s Dyke.The grace and ruggedness of trees,
solid, majestic and beautiful. Always inspired…

In Swedish myth, an ash, Yggdrasil is ‘the tree of the world’,
holding up the whole universe. Though most trees in Sweden are conifers.

An oak tree in the playground.
We climbed it to get away from the caretaker, who chased us.

A huge lychee tree long ago in our garden in Goa. The seed came from Macao.
It never gave us lychees, but all my cousins remember climbing it.

I had a Christmas tree as a kid. It moved house with us twice.

Ann remembers a den inside a willow tree, the scent of mock orange floating over.

Fraser hugs a tree in Moseley Bog. Too big to reach all the way around.
Jasmine runs round her apple tree twenty times to help the apples grow.

A wonderful beech tree near our house,
constantly changing, magnificent, home to many birds.
My mother lies beneath a beautiful carob tree. My father visited her there often.
‘I couldn’t have found a better place,’ he said.

Trees and woods join us to each other, and earth and sky.
Remember a tree? Tell us where? And why?

Return to Nature – We Certainly Did!

The BTfL team arrived at Holders Lane Wood in Moseley on the morning of September the 14th to join Forward Arts in celebrating the Return to Nature Festival. The sun light dappled through the beautiful canopy of trees that were overhead and it was beautifully serene.

As likeminded, groups, charities and individuals set up their stalls around in a large circle amongst the woods we had a feeling it was going to be a great day – and we were right!

There was a whole range of eco-themed activities, entertainment for the whole family to enjoy and participate in. Environmental arts, music, writing, craft, nature trails, story-telling, inspiring talks, delicious food and a wonderfully progressive community atmosphere.

The day was full of joy, laughter, and a wonderful sense of community. Hundreds of people visited the festival for the same simple thing – to enjoy everything nature had to offer.

A perfect setting with the last sunshine of summer shining down on us all day long. At BTfL we enjoyed collaborating with children and adults alike about the thrill and the importance of tree planting. How we should celebrate trees and enjoy everything they had to offer.

It didn’t take long before we had countless children and grown-ups making small plant pots made from recycled newspaper donning our stall, each with an individual acorn planted. Some people wrote a small message on the pot of their newly planted acorn, such as, ‘Happy Birthday Acorn!’

While most people who planted, an acorn were eager to take it home and grow it themselves, others who lived in flats and apartments or had very small gardens left their pots in our capable hands. BTfL has promised to nurture these newly planted trees and nurture them we will.

We also brought an array of fruit and vegetables to show where seeds came from, what kind of seeds there were, including coffee, peppers, apricots strawberries and of course chocolate! Unsurprisingly the chocolate got a lot of interest!

Our seed collecting walk with Simon Needle, Principal Arboriculturist/Principal Ecologist was a brilliant way of learning lots of weird and wonderful facts about trees too. We were all captivated with one of our audience saying the talk, ‘blew his mind!’

Then we were back to our stall to help people celebrate their ideas and memories about trees with, Mandy Ross, a Community Arts Practitioner, poet and children’s author based in Birmingham who loves that we live in such a beautifully green city. Mandy inspired each person to share their personal tree memory with us. To celebrate each tree story, we encouraged each of our new poets to peg their poetry on our own BTfL tree.

Mandy then built a wonderfully rhythmic poem, funny, heart-warming and poignant with many of our mini poets’ memories and personal stories about trees – to celebrate trees with a Poe-Tree! The Poe-Tree was then performed in front of an audience who from the cheers and the claps at the end reading really enjoyed it.

We would like to say a huge thank you to @ForwardArts for organising a wonderful festival celebrating the natural world. We would be there again next year in a heartbeat!  If there is a festival next year, fingers crossed!

 

BTfL is Collaborating with Mandy Ross, Poet, Children’s Author and Community Arts Practitioner

Well, September has arrived and Autumn is around the corner. And BTfL is excited to be part of the Return to Nature Festival on September 14th at Holders Lane Woods in Moseley – a woodland celebration of the natural world held by Forward Arts.

Mandy Ross and Return To Nature Festival

There will be a whole range of eco-themed activities, entertainment for the whole family to enjoy and participate in. Environmental arts, music, writing, craft, nature trails, story-telling, inspiring talks, delicious food and a wonderfully progressive community atmosphere. BTfL will be there placed in a beautiful clearing of the woods surrounded by a charming canopy of trees and greenery.

We are hoping you will all join in the fun with us and our creative activities related to trees and nature, including a nature walk to collect tree seeds and making a seed pots to take home and to help to create a Poe-tree! We are very excited to be collaborating with Mandy Ross, a Community Arts Practitioner, poet and children’s author based in Birmingham who will be working with BTfL at the Return to Nature Festival.

From 2-5pm Mandy will be overseeing a community writing workshop including seed collecting and planting. Mandy will also be encouraging the audience to write a community poem together based around tree memories. With words written on leaf shaped paper by each individual and collected to build a beautiful community poem which will be performed in the afternoon.

Mandy says: ‘This will be the first time I have worked with BTfL and it’s very exciting. But it’s not my first experience with BTfL. Last year I was involved in planting a tree in memory of my friend Jo Skelt, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate 2013/14 who sadly died of breast cancer.
Planting a tree in Jo’s memory through BTfL was such a lovely experience. Myself and my friends went to Pype Hayes Park and worked BTfL and with other people to plant a small forest – not just one tree! I was so impressed with how BTfL worked I was happy to be approached to work with them at the Back to Nature Festival.

I often go back to visit the trees planted at Pype Hayes in memory of Jo to see how that wonderful forest is doing – its growing healthily and beautifully.
Birmingham is a very green city and we are lucky to have so many green open spaces to enjoy. Seeing how many trees BTfL plant each year shows they have a very big commitment to continuing to make the city of Birmingham even greener and healthier.
‘I have always been interested in arts and nature and working with BTfL will be a great collaboration. Working around nature and encouraging people to share their personal stories gives an individual a voice to express themselves and share memories and experiences with others. Being immersed in nature brings out a creative energy in people. The community poem we will be writing at the Back to Nature Festival will allow many different voices to be heard and it’s a very positive experience. Living together in a beautifully diverse city, hearing about different experiences and points of view brings us closer together and a greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

It’s inspiring!

An example of Mandy Ross’s work with community groups

Sharing stories and experiences is good for our wellbeing also. A sense of wellbeing has always been a strong strand that carries through my work. Finding ways to encourage people to be creative, engage in writing and the arts and nature as a way of telling a story is something I’m fascinated with. My collaboration with BTfL doesn’t stop after the Return to Nature Festival, we will also be collaborating with schools to deliver workshops together during this tree planting season – exciting times!’

BTfL says: “Please come and join us for a wonderful celebration of our natural world!’
The event starts at 11am at Holders Lane Woods, Holders Lane, Moseley B13 8NW and the activities and music will go on until 8pm.

Copy by Justine Marklew