Tag: Schools in Birmingham

Its All About the Trees and We’re All About the Trees!

We’re a ‘can do’ organisation driven by the desire to build a ‘can do’ generation with the ability to turn ideas into reality.

This is the mission statement of Envision, a Birmingham Charity working with young people providing them with practical learning experiences in the world of work to empower them, give them confidence, skills, determination and value team work. Tackling social mobility through social action. It’s an amazing project and one BTfL have been very honoured to be involved in.

   

Choosing the environment as a core issue Envision approached four leading environmental charities in Birmingham to work with students promoting an environmental message, and developing a project. BTfL is proud to be one of them. It is a 13-week Community-Apprentice programme in schools across Birmingham raising awareness and funds for the charity of their choice.  BTfL were lucky enough to be chosen by King Edward Boys School in Aston and we had the pleasure of meeting the team this week and hearing all their exciting ideas.

Asking the group of 15-year nine students what made them want to wave the flag for BtfL. A simple question, with a simple answer, ‘It’s all about the trees.’ We totally agree! Trees have never been more important on the political, social and environmental agenda. And these wonderful students know it. The class listened to our presentation proudly wearing their BTfL badges.

      We started with a holistic approach asking the class to close their eyes for one minute and think of a positive experience in a green space they had as a younger child. Daniel, the team leader took charge ensuring very class members had their eyes closed so they could concentrate fully. There was a beautiful intense silence! Then came a stream of thoughts, forest school, survival school, being left in the park for five minutes after my parents forgot me, climbing and falling out of a tree, playing football, sport day! There was a sudden animation in the group as they remembered all their positive experiences in green spaces. It was lovely to watch.

We explained the students about the value of spending time around nature. It’s positive affect on our emotional and physical wellbeing. In-fact studies show that if we don’t spend time outdoors reconnecting with nature we experience Nature’s Deficit Disorder! A noticeable decline in our physical and emotional wellbeing. The answer – go outside and enjoy what nature has to offer!

‘We need more trees, it’s all about the trees, we have to plant millions more, we love and respect trees….’ The students explained. We loved their enthusiasm and explained that planting a tree is a selfless thing, planting a tree make you a good ancestor! A person planting a tree right now has nothing to gain from that tree. It’s future generations that will benefit from everything a tree can offer. It inspired the students to start writing down idea about how we can continue to get the younger generation excited about tree planting.

‘Planting trees in schools, having a mascot, a message/mission statement in an acorn, watch a seed grow from scratch, revisit the trees planted again and again.’ Ideas were thrown about the room thick and fast and as we finished our presentation and group work we understood that this class is committed to conveying a very positive message about the importance of trees and tree planting.

We are looking forward to seeing their creative ideas and celebrating a different perspective! Enjoying what the students have to offer and absorbing their positivity and enthusiasm.Because as the class quite rightly stated, ‘It’s all about the trees and we’re all about the trees!’

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

Forest School Fun in the Glorious Mud at Cotteridge Park

For our second planting of 2020 at Cotteridge Park we were surprised, shocked and dumbfounded, why? – It didn’t rain! As the winter sun shone down we lapped it up! Working with six, year nine students from Kings Norton Girl’s School who were volunteering for the day in the park along with 20 year one children from Cotteridge Primary School.

Not only was it about planting ten beautiful Hawthorne trees in the park today, but the sense of coming togetherness! With a big age gap between the students and not much in common at all at the beginning of the tree planting it was a very different story as we began to plant trees.

                 

The older students had already been at the park for two hours digging holes for the standard trees, Midland Red Hawthorns and did an amazing job considering how hard the work is. A slight obsession with worms and a chat about what constitutes a good breakfast for such energetic work were subjects we pondered together. The older students dug the holes in groups of three ready to work with the year one children planting the trees and re-filling the holes.

Friends of Cotteridge Park had organised the groups and we would like to say a big thank you to them. When the year one children from Cotteridge Primary School arrived they were raring to go and full of energy. It was their first day of Cottteridge Park Forest School and boy were these children ready to get muddy!

Grabbing spades the children lifted the soil and were eager to get the trees comfortable and stable in their new homes. As they all worked hard we watched in the distance as the Woodland team chipped all the Christmas trees that had been left in the park after the festive season.

Every Christmas tree left at Cotteridge Park will be part of a new path at the Franklin Road edge of the park – a great way to recycle all those Christmas trees! As the children dug they listened intently as they learned that every single tree planted today, once matured would provide enough oxygen for four people every day and each tree would drink 50-gallons of water every day. Wow! They all gasped in unison!

  The older and younger children gelled quickly and there was lots of giggling and gleeful gasps as they worked together as a dream team. As the ten trees planted were spread across the park the children were encouraged to run and scream their way to the next planting. Of-course the children obliged.

Every now and then the children would find a super-sized muddy puddle and with any hesitation all the children ran straight into it and splished and splashed to their hearts content. Not just because children, wellies, puddles and mud are a match made in heaven, but because the Forest School competition dictated that the muddiest forest school student won forest school student of the day. We couldn’t think of a better way to win any competition than getting down right muddy!

 

It never ceases to amaze us at BTfL and of course fill us with joy when we see how different generations pull together, laugh, giggle and bond because of the pure joy of planting trees. It’s a magical combination that works every time.

         

As all the trees were planted just in time for lunch so we thanked the students for their hard work and waved goodbye to students from both schools. Noticing they all left with smiles and their faces and a sense of real achievement.That’s what planting trees together does and here at BTfL we couldn’t be happier about it! Please check out the photo album, here  

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

 

 

 

 

Rain and Lots Of Smiles at Loxton Park With Year One Eco-Enthusiasts

Well it rained – again at our tree planting event at Loxton Park! But we don’t need sunshine to make our day sunny when we have 25-super smiley children from St Joseph’s Infant’s School, Nechells to brighten our morning.

These 25 wonderful children were so eager to get planting trees they got to site extra early – but we don’t mind that at all. In three shifts the Year One children arrived by school mini bus with their high vis jacket on and a can-do attitude they were our youngest bunch of tree planting pupils this year.

While the Woodland team finished digging the holes for the ten flowering cherry trees, we had a game of Hokey Cokey, sang some beautiful Christmas carols, we looked for worms, played tree statues and sang Jingle Bells, not to mention dance the soil stomping dance!

         

It was a wonderful morning as the children were eager to get going. The year one children fuelled up on their school snack of bagels and bananas were eager to grab their spades and dig some soil to plant the trees.  Despite the children being our smallest so far they really-engaged and weren’t put off by the rain or digging the trees down with soil and lots of muddy stomping.

How many are we planting…? What colour will the flowers on the trees be…? Will the flowers be the same colour as my pink wellies….?

Their most poignant statement, ‘we couldn’t survive in the world without trees, they keep us alive.’

‘No,’ we agreed, ‘trees really are nature’s lungs! It’s amazing how switched on young children are when it comes to the most important environmental issues.

The children wandered from one tree to another ensuring that every tree was dug down, was planted in a straight line, and that it was happy in the ground. As the rain got heavier the children didn’t lose their sense of humour and asked whether we should water the trees with a knowing smile.

As we dug and spread the soil the children shared their knowledge about trees and how important they are to our environment. Planting a tree is a beautiful, meaningful, symbolic thing to do. All the children were exceptionally proud to have planted trees in their local area to help everyone breathe cleaner air. Even at aged five and six these children were waxing lyrical about all the amazing benefits of trees.

 

    It was quite clear that the children love trees of all kinds, but when they are given an opportunity to plant a tree it’s gives them practical experience and pride in knowing that they have changed the world that little bit for the better. And as we packed up for the day the children explained how it a Christmas lunch at school that day. Not to mention a surprise Christmas film afternoon the school had planned for the children.

And as great days go, planting trees, eating Christmas Dinner and a cinema afternoon, as well as super smiles all morning – well that’s a pretty good day as far as we are concerned!

Liz Shipman, teacher at St Joseph’s school say: ‘ It was a cold and wet December morning when we arrived at Loxton Park excited and full of expectation at the thought of planting trees. We weren’t disappointed for Justine and her team were just as eager to involve us in the project and pass on their knowledge, ideas and enthusiasm for planting trees here in Nechells. It was a wonderful opportunity to get outdoors, get close up to trees and learn why they are so important to our lives. Thank you again for allowing us to be part of this amazing scheme!

 Please check out the rest of the photo album form the Loxton Park planting, here

 

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 

 

BTFL planting season 2018/19 comes to an end.

Today marked the final planting event for schools, communities and families with BTFL for this season. Trees are now leaving their winter dormant period, so we will suspend planting until November this year when we begin again for our 2019/20 season !

Our thanks to everyone that has joined us on site, ‘Friends’ of parks, schools, corporate groups and volunteers. We couldn’t do it without your support. We also need to give special thanks to BCC Woodland team, who make sure all our spades and trees arrive at the right place and prepare all our sites. Finally a thank you to all the BCC Parks staff and our BTFL volunteers who give their time to make things happen!

Keep watching this site to see what else we are up to, as we are busy with schools and events during the summer- helping to spread the word about the importance of trees.

 

Seasons Greetings to all our supporters.

On behalf of all of us at Birmingham Trees for Life, can we wish Seasons Greetings to everyone that supports us. Whether you are a school who supports us on site, a Parks employee that facilitates what we do, a grant funder, a local Friends Group, or just a member of the public that takes the time to read our web site or face book blog. Without your support and interest we would not be able to carry on our work highlighting the importance of trees and trying to infuse the younger generation with some of the knowledge and passion that we share with many of our supporters. Thank you all again and we hope that 2019 brings you all that you wish for in life. Please keep supporting our projects in whatever way you can, as we head rapidly towards having planted 80,000 trees in the City of Birmingham !