Following on from Lewis Townsend’s article in our November magazine expounding the benefits of hedgerows and trailing the Hedgerow Heroes project, our own Environment Editor and Green Hustle co-leader Adam Pickering gives us the ground report from the first planting day…
It’s a mostly sunny, clear autumn day in Wollaton and the ground is moist and malleable with recent rain. Perfect conditions as we rally at Rushford Drive Park to break ground on our first tree planting site of the season.
In 2021 you might have read in this very magazine about us (Green Hustle) planting 1,000 trees on Woodthorpe Park, all paid for by donations from Hockley Hustle 2019 attendees. We call it the Hustle Holt, Nottingham’s first Miyawaki style mini forest. Thanks to that method, and lots of love from the attentive local community, the trees have seen a remarkable 95.7% first year survival rate.
This year we’re hoping to plant even more trees than that across three sites, in partnership with colleagues from CPRE, The Countryside Charity - who know a thing or two about hedges, and Nottingham City Council’s Parks and Open Space team - who happen to have a few parks kicking around. You can help; dates and the volunteer registration link for our two further sites, Snape Wood in Bulwell Forest and Bulwell Hall Park, are at the end of the piece.
At this smaller of the three sites we planted 200 wildlife friendly trees in a day, including hawthorn, blackthorn, alder buckthorn, dog rose and hazel, selected to benefit all manner of birds, bees, caterpillars and butterflies, all whilst drawing down CO2 and contributing to our city’s 2028 carbon neutral goal.
A dozen volunteers got the job done, including local MP Lilian Greenwood, who reminded us that this all contributes to Nottingham’s environment. She also emphasised the sense of community on display. “I think it's fantastic to see volunteers out being part of this. Someone said that they've been sitting around feeling hopeless about the climate, and doing this felt like a really practical thing that they could get involved in. Actually this is taking back control, it's saying 'I can make a difference. I can play a part'.”
Greenwood drew attention to the COP27 protest occurring in town at the same time as our session, and highlighted “there are different ways in which people can express themselves, get involved in the fight against complacency and do something about the climate emergency.” On the strength of her tree planting enthusiasm I’m not getting any complacency vibes here.
Someone said that they've been sitting around feeling hopeless about the climate, and doing this felt like a really practical thing that they could get involved in. Actually this is taking back control, it's saying 'I can make a difference. I can play a part'
I speak to a few other volunteers too, including Ben who’s never done tree planting before. He’s “dabbled in gardening”, he says, and thinks tree planting seems like “one of those activities where time flies by. I guess it’s cathartic - there’s the physical work, which is good both for your physical and mental health. But it’s also knowing that it’s contributing to a cause I'm passionate about, the environment, which also has massive benefits”.
Harry’s been in Nottingham for eight years. He says “It's very soothing. I think partly because you're being told what to do, it’s easy to get it right. But you’re not just employed, or doing something for some gargantuan organisation, you’re actually doing it just for people around you.” Does nature come into it, I ask Harry? “I think it’s more people for me, honestly.”
Izzy from Sherwood reflected the general recognition of the mental health benefits of tree planting, but was also appreciating the nature aspect. “It's very mindful and good for the soul, and it's been really enjoyable to just do something nice and be in nature.”
Harris has volunteered for our tree planting projects before, and has since been travelling to work on volunteer projects abroad to learn about different international approaches to tree planting. He loves getting to “work with different individuals from all walks of life, who have different backgrounds to yourself. Coming together for a common cause unites people.”
As a British Pakistani Muslim, Harris says, he enjoys getting to work with people “from different parts of the city who I may have never come across. This was kind of the bridge that broke down the barrier… We’re all human beings, we all bleed. We just want to give good back to this world.”
Green Hustle plant at Snape Wood in Bulwell Forest this Friday 18th and Saturday 19th November, and along the roadside by The Toy Library on Bulwell Hall Park the Friday 9th and Saturday 10th of November. Sign up here.
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