Thursday 21st March 2013
“Trees are such a vital part of our lives and community beyond the solace and comfort they provide to the bereaved at our burial parks” commented Jez Perkins Woodland Manager at GreenAcres Woodland Burials. And so it was that we decided to find a charity for 2012 in the UK that would match our woodland aims as well as recognise the importance of working in the community.
Trees for Cities was a natural choice.
Their mission “to inspire people to plant and love trees in cities worldwide” seemed a natural fit to the importance that GreenAcres Woodland Burials also puts on the role that trees and woodland plays in the our lives today. Trees for Cities also goes on to define their aims further “We work with communities to plant trees in parts of cities that need it most. We grow stronger neighborhoods, enhance urban landscapes and improve health and happiness”
We were therefore very pleased to be able to support a project local to one of our burial parks with the great work that Trees for Cities are doing.
The project is based in South Park Road in Redbridge and is an Edwardian park with most of its original features including a lake. The park has an abundance of large mature trees and shrubs that is very popular with strollers and joggers who enjoy the surroundings. There is also a large wildlife population that feed off the flora that this park provides. There is an existing tree population within South Park but trees have been removed due to old age or health and safety so this project will start the replacement programme which will ensure that in the future there are still many trees to be enjoyed. It will also bring some younger trees increasing diversity into the population which will result in a healthier park ecosystem. Due to the number of replacement trees needed there is potential to do a multi-year project.
This year Trees for Cities will be planting 30 replacement trees as well as engaging and enabling local community groups to continue planting trees and maintaining the trees in the future.
And so it was that GreenAcres Woodland Burials joined the community planting day on Saturday 9th March. Deborah’s personal account gives you a feeling of the success of the day.
“On an overcast and blustery day in early March I headed down to South Park to the Trees for Cities event planting trees in local park. I got lost!! Everyone, including me knows the impressive Valentine’s Park but its smaller Sister South Park is hidden amongst rows and rows of residential streets with small, respectable houses surrounding it on all four sides. A lovely open green space with its own pond and swans and the local residential group just uplifted the lake house and sheds.
There is already a community here but events like this help to build great links with the local residents some of who live next door to each other but rarely say hello.
Trees for Cities in their 20th anniversary year are going strong and having fun! Yes fun! inspiring the local residents to care about their parks and this was so evident with the mix of families with young children, elderly residents, even those in wheelchairs who had come out to participate.
I found Nina, the Schools and Events Co-ordinator who fitted me out with gloves and a spade for the work in front of me. Kate, the Development Director, guided me with her son Joe and explained what was happening. There was a large variety of trees and the locals were mixing with staff and educated volunteers to dig the holes and all the practical steps before the trees could be successfully planted.
I joined a local primary school teacher with her husband and two sons who were digging a hole for a dogwood tree. She explained to me that events like this were building strong links in the community and helping children to grow up to care about their parks and the nature within. She had already been planting trees with a group of 9 year olds from the local school in the week…. they planted 6. We planted 12 trees in a 2 hour period between 11 and 1!! amazing really.
Firstly we dug the hole and then planted two stakes either side which the tree would be secured too until it was strong enough to stand alone. This was hard work and took two of us with a big metal object to bash down on the stakes to secure them in the ground. Before the tree was planted it was removed from its packaging and the sides roughed up to encourage the roots to expose. We then pruned back any branches that were stopping the tree growth and set up a pipe for irrigation as Trees for Cities will continue to nurture and water all these trees for three years to encourage their growth. Finally the tree in place, the earth was embedded around and ties secured.
Satisfied and encouraged…we all headed back to the refreshments tent for well-earned tomato soup and rolls. I said my goodbyes and left with tired muscles but a warm heart and a sense of great achievement. I am looking forward to heading back to South Park in the Spring to check the progress of all the trees and particularly the lovely dogwood I helped to plant.
For 2013, GreenAcres Woodland Burials will continue to support the work of Trees for Cities and help build a better community in the areas it serves.
GreenAcres Woodland Burials