A community tree planting morning on Alconbury Weald brought together people from communities all around the site and across the generations.
The planting saw the first trees that have been grown in the on-site tree nursery planted out into the area being prepared for the development's first homes.
The event was organised by the Weald's tree ranger Paul Cohen, and saw about 40 people join the 3 hour event, planting out over 700 native species trees, including hazel, hawthorne, field maple and dogwood.
Paul Cohen said:
"The event was great. Not only did we actually manage to plant all the trees out, but with so many people coming to help, everyone had a lot of fun and learnt a huge amount about trees.
“These trees are from seeds collected locally by the team, with the support of local schools and youth groups. They have been grown on in the tree nursery, where volunteers help me tend them. It is great to now involve them and other community groups as they are planted out."
Volunteers coming along on the day included cadets from RAF Alconbury High School’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (similar to Britain’s Air Cadets), Explorer Scouts and Scouts from Alconbury Scout Group, as well as local residents from the Stukeleys and Alconbury, who have been involved in the Nursery. The new community at Alconbury was also represented by volunteers from owners and developers Urban&Civic and Incubator tenants Inside Track – including 3 generations from the same family.
Retired Colonel John Pardo, from Alconbury High School on RAF Alconbury, said:
“Our program’s primary emphasis is community service, so this was a great opportunity for our cadets to get involved in a local event. The tree planting benefited current residents of the Stukeleys and the base, and it will benefit future residents of the Weald. Just as important for our cadets, it reinforced the positive aspects of community service and community involvement.”
Roz Starkey, from Alconbury Scouts Group, said:
“The Scouting movement is all about helping young people to enjoy new adventures; to experience the outdoors; interact with others, gain confidence and have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The tree planting event met all these aims and the Explorers, Scouts and adult helpers really enjoyed the morning. The chance to learn how to safely wield a sledgehammer appealed hugely, as did the snacks provided!”
The trees are just part of an extensive tree planting strategy on the site, which will see over half a million planted – including some very large trees bought in to create instant impact, alongside smaller trees from the Nursery. Bradley Murphy Design and Whiting Landscape Ltd have been working with Urban&Civic to develop the landscape designs and implement the planting, including the community event.
Sue Parkin, Chairman and Tree Warden for Stukeleys’ Parish Council, said:
“It is over 3 years ago that local residents worked with Urban&Civic to plant out the first 2,250 trees along the Ermine Street bank. It was nice to get involved for the next 800. I am now looking forward to watching the next 497,000 going in!”
Rebecca Britton, of site owners and developers Urban&Civic, added:
"This is exactly why we invested money in the Community Tree Nursery. Among the trees which we need to buy in, there is something magical about the connection between local volunteers and community groups helping the team to plant locally-grown trees. We hope the next round of planting will involve the new residents on site, but until then we are very grateful to all those who gave their time and energy to make it such a successful and enjoyable day."
Greg Jones, from Whitings, said;
“It is always great to get local people involved in these events, and my team enjoy passing on our expertise and sharing the passion we have for quality and natural landscaping. The group were so enthusiastic and hard working. It was a really great day.”
The tree nursery is open for volunteers wanting to help the team grow on trees to support Alconbury Weald's landscape plans, every Tuesday 10am-12noon. For more information please speak to Paul Cohen on 07920 722761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org