Apr 20 2018

50 Years old and never planted a tree

people standing by newly planted trees

Tree planting at Coed Ffos Las

Yes, I have to confess, I had never planted a tree. I know, I know, please stash your pitchforks and flaming torches and give me a chance.

Last week I ran my first tree planting week for schools, followed immediately by a soggy Easter Saturday sojourn.

The location: Coed Ffos Las (Wales’ Commemorative Wood). The occassion: Plant! (Welsh Government’s project to plant a tree for every child born or adopted in Wales)

Four schools planted 470 oak and hazel trees into the Somme-esque mud. They made hazel hurdles, using a two-handed saw, dug a trench and learnt leaf names and shapes. All schools had a great time, despite the awful mud.

Coed Ffos Las is on the site of a former coal mine and pretty much all of it is overburden from the opencast. As a result the subsurface waterflow is a mystery. Water gushes out of every hole in the ground when it rains. I turned this into a teaching opportunity by talking about battles like The Somme and how difficult this made troop movements. Also we discussed different battlefield uses for wood.

Easter Saturday saw me and my family in our camper van at a campsite nearby, to combine weekend working with an opportunity for a camping trip. I got up at 6.30am on Saturday and, stepping over my wife, two teenage sons and our dog, left the van to give an interview, in Welsh, to Radio Cymru’s breakfast show to promote the event. This was another first for me. My first Welsh language interview as a Trust staff member. Here is the slot. 26 minutes in

More trees were planted and we showed visitors our plans for installation of the warhorse statue and interpretation panels.

So. What have I learned? Wellies are the footwear of the Gods. But, seriously, tree-planting is inspiring, engaging, fun, and good exercise. Now, where are my dry trousers…?

Essex Havard – Engagement Officer – South Wales

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