We are thrilled to share our first newsletter of 2024! Read on to see our highlights of 2023 and what we have coming up for the start of 2024…..
- Introduction – Richard Higgs
- 2023 Highlights
- Update on the Hub
- Trustee vacancy
- What is coming up in 2024
I joined More Trees in September and have been blown away by both the very warm welcome I have received from everyone and the fantastic work that this charity delivers. I have worked for most of my career with the National Trust, starting as an arborist and ending with managing large environmental programmes with a whole range of things in between. To be back at the sharp end of tree production, creating community treescapes and working with volunteers and communities to deliver this feels perfect. My focus over the next year will be establishing the new Hub (see more below), supporting the existing nursery network and looking at how and where we might grow things in the future, particularly around how we get most impact from our tree planting schemes. We will never be one of the very big suppliers of trees, although we will increase things gradually, but our stock has huge value in its local provenance and genetic diversity so using this where it delivers most impact for people and nature is really important. I’m very excited about working with everyone involved in More Trees and seeing where we go over the coming years.
As we start a new year and look back over the last year, it is hard to take in how much we have all achieved!
January saw us lift over 1200 trees at our Dry Arch, Walnut Springs, Barrow Mead Community Tree Nurseries, Greenlinks, the Shed in Keynsham and all our school nurseries. Our new logo was launched and the review for our new website started led by Emma. We also invited our volunteers to complete our first feedback survey. Your voting efforts on our behalf for the BANES Council Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding were a success and we were awarded over £67,000 to help fund our new hub and a vehicle.
In February, with Curo and the Blooming Whiteway community group we planted out over 900 trees at Whiteway Green over 2 rather soggy days. But that did not stop over 60 people joining us! With Bath Building Society, we planted 300 trees at Axbridge Road and were supported by a number of volunteers from the Emberson Group and Halo Present. To help us move hundreds of trees around, we became the proud owner of a new More Trees van. Some of our volunteers enjoyed a fruit tree grafting workshop kindly run by Matt McCabe and we started sowing our germinated seeds.
During March we had our very first ‘tree giveaway’. Our seeds continued to germinate, and we were busy sowing them into trays and root trainers. After looking at a number of options, we identified a potential new site for our Hub; one half of an allotment site in Redland Park on Curo land. Emma was very busy drafting lots of content for our new website.
Throughout April, the Hub nursery continued to fill up with trays and root trainers full of growing seedlings. Our new tree nursery at Lyncombe Hill Fields was established and we started building the new tree nursery at Haycombe Vale. The consultation process for our new Hub continued with meeting local residents at Redland Park and we recruited a new volunteer, Jeni Reid, dedicated to supporting us with our Schools programme.
From May it was time to fill the van and start moving the seedlings out to our community tree nurseries to be grown on. Our nursery volunteers planted hundreds… and hundreds of seedlings! Our new air pruning nursery at BIBs received its first seedlings. With the help of Jeni, we visited the school nurseries twice throughout the summer term working with the children and planting out the baby trees including a new nursery at St. Michael’s. We returned to both our planting sites with a group of volunteers to provide aftercare.
During June we planted seedlings at our new nursery at Weston Springs Farm to add to the other wonderful things the Middle Grounds Growers are doing and Haycombe Vale planted its first trees. We ran two Tree ID workshops in Breach Wood and Primrose Hill Community Woodland and tree aftercare continued on Thursdays in place of our regular Hub sessions.
In July we launched our new website and Sandra and Emma went on holiday!
On our return in August, we continued to run our Thursday Hub sessions remotely taking them on the road to various nurseries and planting sites. We applied to BANES council for planning permission for our new Hub. Thank you to Stride Treglown, PlanningSphere and Ethosep, and BLB Solicitors for their pro bono support.
Before we leave summer, we must say a very BIG thank you to our fantastic community tree nursery volunteers who planted, watered and nurtured our growing baby trees throughout the sometimes very hot summer months. Amazing work!
September meant it was time to kick off our seed collecting season. It commenced with a workshop where we welcomed new volunteers and the regular wonderfully messy Thursday seed processing sessions returned. We had a brilliant day at Extraordinary Earth Day at the Abbey showcasing our work. The new t-shirts and flag were a big hit. And finally, we recruited our new Director, Richard!
This month Sandra stepped down from her Development Manager role and reverted to her CTN Development Manager role. We are so grateful to Sandra for all the work she did getting our nursery network and tree growing ‘project’ off the ground. It is now a big part of what we do and central to our success.
During October and November our seed collecting trips and processing sessions continued. We enjoyed Tuesday trips to various stunning woodlands in Bath and Northeast Somerset each unique and special. Our social media posts will hopefully have done them all justice! Our Thursday crew worked hard to keep up with the number of seeds coming in. Jeni continued our autumn schools programme with Jane Stagg and Jon Parsonage from Forest School seed collecting, processing and tree lifting.
A number of volunteer days at the site for the new Hub took place clearing the site and preparing it for a new volunteer hut and polytunnel. We received confirmation that planning permission had been approved! More information is below.
Throughout November and early December, the volunteers in our community tree nurseries worked extremely hard to lift and heal in well over 1500 trees over a number of weekends and in various weather conditions! Tea, coffee and biscuits were essential! Such amazing work everyone.
Our biosecurity workshop took place at the end of November, and we were pleased to see we are on the right path with all our practices. For those unable to join us, look out for the online evening session in January.
We finished in December with our first planting project of the season; over 800 of our trees planted out at Green Heart Farm with Ecosurety and the Forest of Avon. It was a beautiful day, and we were rewarded with pizza for lunch to keep us going!
Finally, we would like to thank Nat for her year-round management of our Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Her hard work and dedication are making it a huge success. And thank you to all our Trustees for their continued engagement in and support for our work.
We look forward to seeing you in 2024!
Our new site in Redland Park, Twerton has full planning permission and plans are well underway to create our new central nursery Hub. We are finalising the design of our building, a small wooden structure that will be used as an office, seed processing in colder months, mess room and space for volunteer training etc. We also have a polytunnel to install and are putting in the essential infrastructure such as paths and watering systems using rainwater around the site. Work is starting early next year, and we plan to move our operations to this site in spring. It’s been great being part of BANES Council parks department and we shall miss all the friendly staff, but having our own place will be fabulous. Thanks to everyone who has helped with initial clearance of the site, and we look forward to welcoming everyone there very soon.
We have recently advertised for two new trustees to join our Board.
Our trustees play a vital role in ensuring we achieve our vision, and we are looking for enthusiastic contributors who share our values and have a strong interest in what we do.
We are particularly interested in applicants with expertise in marketing and communications, fundraising, woodland creation and tree nursery production and knowledge of the political landscape around Bath.
You can find more information and a copy of the recruitment pack on our website.
This is what we currently have to look forward to in the first few months of the year, all of which can be found on the calendar on the website:
Friday 5 – we will be visiting the new Hub site to remove the old fence ready for the new fencing to be installed the following week.
Thursday 11 – the Thursday hub sessions will return.
Tuesday 16 – we will be running a cuttings session at Primrose Hill Community Woodland.
Sunday 21 – volunteering session at Haycombe Vale nursery. We will finish the paths and lift the trees ready for February’s planting.
Tuesday 23 – the online Biosecurity Workshop will take place at 7pm.
Saturday 27 – volunteering session at Walnut Springs nursery. More trees to lift!
Tuesday 6 and 20 – we will be planting over 900 trees with BIBS at Stirtingale Road.
Saturday 2 – we will be starting the set-up of a new nursery at Roots Allotments, Tuckers Meadows.
Tuesday 5 – we will be planting trees with Mallorys jewellers and Greenlinks volunteers at the Oval.
And this is just the start! Happy New Year!