Tree Feasts from Wales and Africa
North Wales Engagement Officer Kirsten Manley said that the recent heatwave in Wales was like being back home in South Africa. Which was ideal for her recent event theme about tree produce in Wales and Africa! Here’s how it went…
Size of Wales is one of our partners in the Welsh Government’s Plant! Project – planting trees in Wales and Africa for every child born and adopted in Wales. They support farmers like Charles Wabumba from eastern Uganda who plants and grows avocado trees to alleviate landslides and increase nutrient retention. The fruit trees also offer shade to his coffee plants and support the 100 tree beehives he manages. All the produce from the trees, coffee plants and hives provide him with the income to support his family of 10 children to go to school, some of whom have now become teachers who support other families in his community.
Under sunny skies in Coed Ysgubor Wen, Size of Wales brought Africa to life through an imaginary journey to explore the benefits of produce from these trees for both wildlife and people. Coed Cadw also celebrated the ten year old Welsh trees in Coed Ysgubor Wen that offered their own secrets of produce, much to the delight of the ten year old children for whom they were planted! A game developed by Woodland Classroom and the Coed Cadw north Wales team led the children on a treasure hunt empowering them to identify trees and to discover their potential produce: tree ID clues led teams to the trees, each tree had a covered basket beneath containing items revealing the tree name and its potential product, but also forfeit markers if the identification was incorrect – 4 forfeits and you’re out!
“This is the best day away from school ever” exclaimed one child as he ran with his friends to find the next tree and treasure. Later, the groups gathered to taste the products from both Africa and Wales in a “Feast of the Forest”. After such excitement in the sun, everyone really appreciated the ice-cooled elderflower cordial drinks. The children’s “Take a Tree to Tea” packs presented to them at the end of the day included a tree treat with a clue to what it was in the form of the tree leaf – easily identifiable from the day’s adventures, or through the bilingual “Tree ID” sheets contained in their packs. Their learning continues!
The children also met the staff who issued their Plant! certificates when they were born. “Seeing the children playing amongst the trees which were planted for them has been such a delight” said Debbie Hague from the Office of National Statistics. “We are so grateful to be included in this celebration and to see the growth of this remarkable woodland created by Coed Cadw and the community.”
Later, each school was presented with a rowan tree to plant with the children this winter. Guidance from our “Tree Tools for Schools” website was offered along with a recipe for making rowan berry jelly! The children have been invited to visit again in cooler weather to try out our new exciting Tree Orienteering Trail developed by site manager Kylie Jones Mattock.
A follow-on event for families of the children was also held. Sheltered from the African-like heat beneath the mighty oak towering over the young woodland, they made hazelnut bread and chocolate hazel nut parcels on an open fire (closely supervised of course!) and heard stories and Welsh legends inspired by trees. Four families were inspired to join the Woodland Trust for more Nature Detective adventures in our woods. While the local community councilor and her daughter joined in as temporary volunteers for the day with an interest in becoming long-term volunteers.
These feasts opened the children’s eyes (and taste buds!) to the wonders of woods and trees in Wales and Africa, and in doing so offer seeds of inspiration for future generations. “Don’t judge each day by the harvests you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.” Let’s keep planting them!