Tag: community engagement

Five Trees planted at Penshurst Avenue – “Only 20 million More to Go!”

Well what a wonderful morning we had with 14 smiley Year Four pupils from Birchfield Community School in Aston. Proudly wearing their Birchfield Community School high vis jackets the children were well and truly prepared for our tree planting event at a small housing estate called Penshurst Avenue in Aston. Wellies on, check…., coats zipped up, check…., hats secure, check….. And off we went! Sunshine…. Check…., well  err we can’t have everything, but at least it wasn’t raining!

   

The children like all our other amazing eco-warriors we work with knew lots about the environmental value of trees and couldn’t wait to share their knowledge with us as we took the ten-minute walk from school to site. There were five trees to be planted and all the children were very excited about the prospect of planting their very first tree. The trees being planted were Hornbeam, which grows taller and narrower, picked specifically to be planted outside residential homes to avoid blocking out any light to residents homes. The second species we planted was the Silver Lime tree. This tree grows wider but was planted in more open areas.

The benefit of these trees that will nestling right next the very busy A34 dual carriageway. A very busy road with lots of congestion. These trees will help absorb the CO2 produced and add some lovely colour and foliage for resident to enjoy during the summer months.

The children eager to get going split into groups of three and put all their strength into dropping the soil around the tree in its new home. Five groups all working hard in their teams, sharing the workload and enjoying the cold but refreshing weather. ‘What are the plastic bits on the bottom of the tree for,’ one student asked. We explained that these loosely fitted plastic casings protected the trees trunk and bark from the damage a strimmer could do, ensuring the tree stays in the best health possible and damage free.

  While working together we could see there is a great sense of community in the area, passers-by waving and saying hello to the students, one shouting, ‘hey everyone, only 20-million more trees to plant, after that one, well done…’ ‘And then 20 million more after that!’ We shouted back.

The children worked exceptionally hard and didn’t stop at just planting, no, some of the children had collected some pebble along the way to decorate the bottom of the tree. ‘It’s tree jewellery, it looks nice! ‘One of the children said enthusiastically.

   

The children were very proud as they looked up at the trees they had planted. ‘Remember these are you trees, to enjoy and be talked about to all the people you know,’ we explained. ‘Yes!’ All the children agreed smiling. It was nice to finish our tree planting understanding that these children had just learned the wonderful value of trees, lessons they will take home and share with friends and family. A lesson all the children at our tree planting event recognise and value. And it’s a lesson none of us should ever stop learning! Please check out the photo album for this tree planting, here

 

 

Talk about Green Team – We Mean The Dream Team!

Well what a heady mix of interesting and amazing talent we had today at our tree planting. Where we planted at two sites on local housing land in Stockland Green. We were honoured today to welcome Stockland Green School and their Eco Council, the Green Team from Deutsche Bank, Birmingham and Birmingham’s Poet Laureate Richard O’ Brien. We were also accompanied by local councillor for the Bromford and Hodge Hill Ward, Diane Donaldson and her beautiful rescue dog, Gucci! After a chat with the eight students from Stockland Green School they had a very clear mandate for their local environment. ‘We really wanted to plant trees as we know how important they are to our environment and our health.’

‘We want our school to do more recycling, we want new bins and we want our school to ditch plastic, we campaigned for the school to get rid of plastic cutlery and we are well on the way to doing that.’ The students explained proudly. Next on the list is for Stockland Green School is to be free of plastic bottles, we can’t wait to hear about their progress.

 Walking to the site from Stockland Green School to the planting site the students noticed just how many trees lined the buy streets and dual carriageway, reducing CO2 and noise, acting as screening and looking beautiful. The students were eager to get planting on the first of two sites on housing land at Scafell Lane opposite Bleak Hill Allotments. Not only did they fill the holes, but with the help of the seven wonderful Deutsche Bank Green Team volunteers they dug the holes too.

We planted three varieties of crab apple tree today, ‘can you make a crumble with those apples? One student asked. We didn’t think it would taste that nice, but instead making a jelly or a jam might be preferable, but the real reason crab apples were chosen, because wildlife love them. The blossom is beautiful too.

Richard O’ Brien, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate was enjoying tree planting too, stating that it was the first time he had ever planted a tree – well Richard we hope and we are quite sure it won’t be your last!  As adults and younger students buddied up to plant the trees there was lots of chatter and lots of hard work. Digging, shovelling, stomping on the soil was quite a rhythmic and pragmatic approach to the planting, working as a team and admiring the trees that they had just planted.

After a quick de-brief, we all took the lovely walk across Witton Lakes to our second planting site, at Faulkners Farm Drive. There was plenty of wildlife and beautiful trees to look at as we chatted while walking. Our tree planting included Liquidamber Trees, that will provide beautiful striking colour in the Autumn months. Nestling the trees amongst the residential flats dotted here and there was a wonderful way of introducing trees, where there were none before.

There was lots of interest from local-residents and were pleased to hear that they would have something beautiful to enjoy in the autumn as well as the local wildlife. It was smiles all round as we finished planting the final tree with a feeling that we had achieved something lovely which of course together as the green, dream team we have!  You see planting trees can make you happy, planting trees make you calm and relaxed, planting trees is a community exercise, planting trees provides you with your own personal environmental legacy and planting trees can be cathartic. So, we say go and plant a tree! It will do you and your planet the world of good! Please check out the photo album for this blog here 

 

Testimonial from Catherine Harding, teacher from Stockland Green School – “I just wanted to say how wonderful this morning was! Being involved in the tree planting this morning has really opened our eyes to the importance of trees, and the students are really keen to watch them grow! So nice to be part  of a legacy in the community thee students live! ”

Poem about Tree planting at Stockland Green by Richard O’ Brien, Birmingham’s Poet Laureate

 

We Need All The Trees We Can Get   

After some training, even I can carve

a perfect New York pizza slice of turf,

but underneath this thin green strip

there’s levels of resistance:        see Chris switch,

one earphone in (a podcast; MMA)

from spade to fork,

mattock to wrecking bar,

and plunge and plunge and plunge

into the shallow store

of rubble.

 

‘Sometimes there’s more brick than soil,’

somebody says:

‘you want more soil than brick.’

 

And Chris, who graciously explained

what sets apart a shovel from a spade:

‘I’m just here to dig holes;

don’t get involved in any politics.’

 

The grass on turf put back

the wrong way up competing with

the new root-ball for water,

 

while a lady from the bank

takes black bags home to plant courgettes —

 

a quieter second life, having already

yielded to the Wyrley Birch Estate

their load of liquidambar.

 

Walking back to the car, we pass a stand

of beech and ash trees that long since outgrew

the schoolchildren whose job was treading flat

the earth around them ten years earlier

Nick-Names for Every Tree at Bournville Park Tree Planting

The sun shone again for us at Bournville Park last week when we planted 10 ornamental cherry trees with Bournville Village Junior School. Bournville Friends of Parks and our wonderful corporate volunteers of the day T.A. Cook.

With 20 eager children and four brilliant volunteers from T.A. Cook, our corporate volunteers have been operating for 25-years so the company decided that to celebrate their 25th year they do 25 good deeds this year! What a wonderful idea! So the staff  voted for the 25 good causes they wanted to help. Lucky for BTfL were have been chosen as one of T.A. Cook’s good causes and we couldn’t be happier about that. Our planting event came at the request of Joan Hosfield, one of the Friends of Bournville Park.

Bournville Village School is right next to the park so the children walked over to meet us at the planting site. Eager to get going, a quick spade safety talk, the children asked all about the trees they were planting. In-fact they were so impressed by the trees thy decided to give each tree a name. Bob was our first tree, then came Alex, the children decided on a gender-neutral name for tree number two, then came Archie, Jeffy, Jefferina, Sunflower, Sparkle, Ben, Blossom and Sharon.  All great names we are sure you will agree. The children were very impressed that they were planting blossom trees and could enjoy their beauty each Spring. They enjoyed chatting about football with our T.A. Cook volunteers, there was some friendly rivalry when it was discovered there was a mix of Birmingham City and Aston Villa fans planting trees together. Worms seemed to be the biggest subject of the day, there were plenty of worms in the park and the children kept finding them, studying them, before gently placing them back in the ground. As we planted 10-standard flowering cherries on the left side of the stream, the children admired more standard trees on right-hand-side of the stream that had been planted with Bournville Village Junior School and BTfL on a couple of years before.

 

We were also treated to a visit from Liz Clements, Councillor for the Bournville and Cotteridge Ward. Liz was very interested to see what BTfL were planting and how we were working with the school children and T.A. Cook and Friends’ of Bournville Park and was thrilled to see more trees planted in Bournville Park.

   

Not only did the children enjoy planting trees, enjoying the fresh air and the wonderful tem work, they were great multi-taskers too, teaching us here at BTfL how to floss. ‘Floss,’ we said, we do that twice a day after brushing our teeth! ‘No, no, no!’ The children insisted, ‘flossing is a dance.’We were then, treated to full display of flossing from the children, while digging! After a five-minute floss failure from BTfL we decided tree planting was our forte – and flossing wasn’t!

Please check out the photo album here https://photos.app.goo.gl/kJ5TLr88933FQExN9

Welcome to the Roaring 20’s and Boy did Little Sutton School Council Roar!

Well, welcome to the roaring 20’s! And what a roaring start we had to our first tree planting of 2020!

Little Sutton School Council were our guest tree planters today at Harvest Fields Park in Sutton Coldfield. Years two to six, along with four hardworking staff members from Waitrose Four Oaks, Cllr Jane Mosson, covering the Roughley Ward and Viv Astling our wonderful BTfL committee member. We would like to thank Waitrose Four Oaks for their kind generosity in funding the fruit trees we planted today through their Community Matters Programme.

After three great causes were showcased in their store, customers got to choose their favourite by placing their green disc in their chosen charity box. Then £1000 is split between those good causes. Waitrose Four Oaks have also funded previous plantings at Harvest Fields.

   

The weather was fair to middling, the rain held off and the children were eager to plant their community orchard. Today we planted two Quince trees, (Cydonia Portugal and Cydonia, two apple trees, Malus Spartan and Malus Scrumptious, two pear trees, Pyrus William’s Bon Chretien and Pyrus Onward, as well as a beautiful Himalayan birch Betula utilis var Jacquemontii to commemorate the First World War Memorial at Harvest Fields Park, funded by Royal Sutton Coldfield Town Council

A chat with the children on the way to the site showed how engaged they are with local issues and environmental issues, keeping their school and the surrounding area their number one priority. From a regular local litter pick, a stringent school recycling agenda to patrolling school car parking areas to ensure their students safety is paramount. Next on the list, they are voting on whether they should invest in a compost heap and of course planting even more trees!

After a quick survey of the area, a spade safety check the 14 children split into pairs, buddying up with one of the adult tree planters. All the children use Harvest Fields Park as a regular base for play, dog walking, exercise and meeting points so they were all eager to get planting.

The children were adding trees to the community orchard where previous children from Little Sutton School had planted fruit trees last year. These trees are doing exceptionally well! We talked about trees and how important they are as we dug our spades in and stomped down the earth. Once again we were all impressed with how much knowledge the children have about the environmental value of trees. As we finished the tree planting we took a celebratory photograph with the fruit trees and the all-important Silver Birch tree planted to commemorate the First World War.

The staff from Waitrose, Phil, Laura and Sue were all smiles, Sue commenting on what a wonderful community event our tree plantings always are.  We couldn’t agree more Sue! It was a proud morning all round.

As the Woodland Team surveyed our planting the large heavy hammer that’s used to push the stakes into the ground became a talking point. ‘I’m as strong as Thor,’ said one student as he lifted the heavy hammer. Soon there was a queue of boys and girl’s willing to prove their strength, one after the other they lifted that hammer with a roar – and of course some supervision. It was clear these children had spinach for breakfast!

After exerting all that energy, it was time for a tea-break, a Communitea – break! After dumping our muddy boots in the foyer of the Harvest Fields Conference Centre, it was tea, biscuits and chitchat all round. A chance for everyone to reflect on the tree planting, get to know each other a bit better and celebrate every new tree planted! We would like to extend another thank you to Harvest Fields Conference Centre for providing the refreshments and warm wonderful hospitality!

 

  

So, our first tree planting of 2020 was a wonderful success, but here at BTfL, we always start they year how we mean to go on and by then end of the 2020 tree planting season we will have planted 95,000 trees in total. Only 5000 short of that magic 100,000 trees planted! In between we look forward to planting with wonderful schools just like Little Sutton Primary School because it’s always a great treat or us at BTfL to share the legacy of planting trees to improve our city and our lives and the world – one tree at a time!

Please check out our Harvest Fields tree planting photo album, here

 

 

 

 

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