I have been raising money for various charities over the last couple of weeks so I decided to think about other reasons that motivate people to volunteer. I think that many of us would like to leave a legacy and what better way than to plant a tree. After all, there is a tree in a Welsh churchyard that is estimated to be around 5000 years old. That is some legacy. Trees provide us with so much from homes for wildlife to cleaning the air we breathe and have provided us with shelter for thousands of years. Schools and communities can apply to get a free tree pack from the Woodland Trust. As a tribute to 100 years since World War one, the Woodland Trust hope that 3 million trees will be planted over the next 4 years across Britain, to create a living memorial which will stand for centuries. The deadline for applications for their spring packs is 7th January 2015 and they have 3000 packs available. The Friends of King George V Playing Fields in Ashton or FOKGVPF, who probably have one of the longest acronyms ever, had put a call out for volunteers to help them plant some trees of their own. On a chilly winters morning I went out to help them plant some trees. When I arrived the volunteers were already hard at work digging holes to plant the trees. Many people use the playing fields, particularly walking their dogs or playing football. Some of them had stopped to help; tempted by the offer of naming their tree once they had planted it. Those mighty trees that we enjoy all over Tameside take time to grow and sadly FOKGVPF had planted 150 trees and only 25 had survived. This was due to many reasons including lawnmowers, over enthusiastic dogs and vandalism. As a team we dug out the saplings that hadn’t made it and replaced them with a new ones; scattering nutrients in the ground, covering the ground around the plant with mesh and topped it off with mulch. I felt like a gardening expert by the end, move over Alan Titchmarsh. What I loved about the day, apart from the lack of rain which was a bonus, was that my children could help plant too. My son loved the chance to get his hands dirty and loved the volunteers helping him to find worms which he then ran about with. The ground was a little tough to dig through which was proved when two spades were broken over the course of the morning. Thankfully for once it wasn’t me doing the breaking.
We then had a tea and cake break. The good thing about volunteers is that they often volunteer for lots of different places. One of our team Yvonne had brought a selection of cakes from a fete she had helped with the day before. We enjoyed our break in Georgie Porgie’s cafe, where I had volunteered a couple of months ago, and then I got a tour of the orchard planted in 2012. Pat who is one of the volunteer gardeners at FOKGVPF told me the history of the orchard; explaining that the fruit trees are named after each of the volunteers. There are some rare breeds of apple tree that have been donated by a tree expert who wanted to save species in old orchards around Britain. Pat showed me a special area of planting beds where local people can have something planted in memory of their pets that have died. A fitting tribute in the playing fields they loved to walk. Planting something in memory being such a lovely thing to do which is why the Woodland Trust’s project to mark World War one through planting trees is such a wonderful idea. John, a dog walker at the fields, had planted a tree in commemoration of his wife at the first tree planting day the volunteers had run a couple of years ago.
After the orchard tour, I returned to the playing fields to finish the tree planting and when I left, I left behind trees named after me and my children. Only time will tell how they get on but the day will certainly leave a legacy in my memory. If you would like to find out more about FOKGVPF and how to help them to make it a wonderful place for the community then you can go to the website which is www.fokgvpf.co.uk