I’ve always been keen on trees. I’ve planted them whenever I’ve had the space. Thirty years ago, I lived near Oxford, where I planted a balsam poplar. It smelt gorgeous after it rained. I’d love to know if it’s still there – someone might have cut it down.
A year ago, the Green Light Trust had a stall at our village fete. The trust supports and encourages those who want to establish community woodlands – woods planted by and for local people. I registered an interest in establishing one in Elmsett.
In March this year we signed a People Planting Agreement with the Green Light Trust and set up Elmsett Greenlife Grove Scheme, a name chosen after consulting the village schoolchildren, who liked the acronym EGGS. In a way, it’s especially apt. An egg is used as a symbol of new life at Easter, the spring equinox festival, and we’re aiming to create new life – trees, and the creatures that live in them.
On Monday, we’ll have an EGGS stall at the village fete, to raise awareness of the scheme. We’ve had encouraging messages from local landowners. Next month we’ll launch the scheme at the school, where the children have started a tree nursery. They’re all going to visit the trust’s woodland at Lawshall. When you plant trees, you need an imagination, and seeing what other people have done should inspire them and make them aware that trees need time to grow and mature. Far-sighted people plant trees.
One of my favourite poems is by an American poet, Wendell Berry. He wrote about planting trees,
“Let me desire and wish well the life these trees may live when I no longer rise in the mornings to be pleased by the green of them shining, and their shadow on the ground, and the sound of the wind in them.”
But it’s not just the beauty of trees, the sight and sound of them, that matters. They’re the lungs of the world. They stop soil erosion. They provide a habitat for birds, beasts and insects, and they mean jobs, timber, and the materials for all sort of woodcraft too.
We’ll be collecting tree seeds and seedlings and buying plants from a tree nursery for our woodland. One day, maybe, the grandchildren of some of the children who go to the village school may walk in our woodland. I’ll be long gone by then. I’ll be buried under a tree.