The work was carried out by Year 6 pupils from the aptly named Oak Class under the guidance of Grow Batheaston, a local community group with the aim of empowering children and each other to create a greener, more sustainable way of life in the local area.
“We rescued the oak saplings from Oakupy tree planting project in Bristol,” explained Ali Rogers, one of the administrators of Grow Batheaston. “When we discovered that the oaks were due to be destroyed, we wondered where on earth we would find the space to plant them. While a number were adopted by residents with sufficient land, we had 30 saplings remaining. After a conversation with Councillor Kevin Guy he suggested planting some on the meadows next to New Leaf Farm and thought it would be a good idea to give some of the the children from the local primary school the chance to get involved. It seemed the logical choice would be Oak class (year 6), they jumped at the chance, and every pupil was able to each plant their very own oak sapling on a very sunny afternoon in April.”
Among the children taking part was Emily who recalled, “When we got to the meadow, we were greeted by a guy called Kevin. He told us each to pick small tree and walk down a path to a corner of a field. He showed us how to dig the holes and place the trees in carefully. Everyone thought it looked really easy, but when it came to us digging the holes, we found out it wasn’t as easy as we thought. An adult came to help us, as the ground was quite tough.
“After the grown-ups finished with the hard work, we got some bonemeal to put it in the deep holes to make them grow better, then planted the trees and covered up the roots so if the sun got to them, they wouldn’t burn in the heat. Now all we needed to do was push a short bamboo stick into the ground to help the trees stay straight. After that, we rapped a plastic case around the tree and stick in case the rabbits try to dig it up. We all enjoyed the day, and it was a good experience to show how to help our community and planet, I would definitely do it again.”
The planting of these oaks is in line with the Grow Batheaston’s aim to encourage biodiversity across the region. “According to the woodland trust, Oak forests support more life forms than any other native forest,” added Ali. “They are host to hundreds of insect species, supplying many birds with an important food source. In autumn, mammals such as squirrels, badgers and deer feed on acorns.
“We very much look forward to seeing the Oak trees grow and develop, and hope that the children of Oak class who planted these trees will come back with their children and grandchildren in years to come. Anyone can see them on the path that goes through the meadows past New Leaf Farm. Why not go and take a look?”