Members of the Friends of Lewes Trees Committee have helped pupils of Western Road and Southover Schools, aged four to eleven years, to plant 550 mixed native tree whips on their shared playing fields to make a wildlife hedge.
Green United is a Lewes-based organisation which supports schoolchildren in taking action to make the world a better and more sustainable place. In May 2021 they arranged a “Big Ask”, when young people from local schools presented their ideas for environmental action and launched appeals to community groups to ask for their help.
The Trees Committee readily responded to a request from Western Road School to help to create a wildlife hedge between their field and the school car park, to hide the cars and to increase biodiversity on the school grounds.
After several meetings with pupils and staff from both Western Road and Southover Schools, this developed into the idea of each of the 550 children and staff planting one whip to make a bigger and better hedge around 120 metres of the playing field. We then designed a plan so that we could fit 550 whips into the available space as a double hedgerow and chose species that would provide food and shelter for insects, birds, and small mammals.
With the help of parents to prepare the ground, we were ready to begin planting at the end of January 2022. Members of the Trees Committee explained how to plant the whip so that it would grow well and were ready to help break the ground on chalky patches.
The teachers had the lovely idea of photographing each pupil with their whip, next to a picture of their chosen tree, so they could remember what they had planted and find out what it would look like later in the year. Some of the Year 7 children who had first presented the “Big Ask” returned to the schools to add their own little tree to the hedge.
It was a wonderful project that was a real privilege to be involved with, not only for the valuable increase of food and habitat for a range of wildlife, but also for the opportunity to work with such committed teachers and enthusiastic children and parents.
We are planning to return to the schools soon to donate and plant a tree and yet more whips – so that those children who have been absent with Covid over the four days of planting can also become part of the hedge-making.
Trees Committee members helping to plant a hedge at the schools’ playing field – click to enlarge