Wild Trees 2007
The Wild Trees project seeks to open up opportunities for children to engage with Nature in an unmediated and immediate way. Activities are designed to introduce nature awareness to parents and children and to open up play possibilities that include simple and repeatable skills. Research has shown that engaging in wild nature activities lays a foundation for environmental consciousness in later life.
The project aims to foster an enthusiasm for being outside, for exploring the environment, pursuing healthy outdoor activities such as walking and camping and endeavours to encourage reliance on self and a kinship with the natural world.
Our first year of activity has been supported by The Local Network fund so all activities were offered free of charge.
Powerstock common on a wet Sunday morning saw us hunting for tree seeds of various shapes and sizes. We found lots of sprouted acorns that we planted in our new nursery bed in the orchard. Mace Brightwater was our knowledgeable leader for the morning and told us all about the lifecycle and survival tactics of trees. We ended the morning with a drink of hot chocolate and bags full of interesting finds.
‘We walked in the woods and a man told us all about the things we
found and he told us all about the trees….
I thought it was fantastic.' Reuben aged 5
We were invited to cut hazel in Hilfield woods at Batcombe. Dorset Conservation officer Julian Cooper met us there and showed us how to cut the hazel and cover the stools with brash so deer would not graze it and stop it from growing back. We took some of the poles home to the orchard to make a bender.
Close to where we were working we saw a huge oak tree that had been coppiced in the past. It had not been cut again for many years so it was a cluster of massive trunks. We learned that coppicing is a traditional way to manage trees because the long straight poles that re-grow are very bendy and useful for making things such as hurdles and chairs and were even woven together to make the walls of houses.
Wild Trees Club members met at Earnscombe woods to plant trees. The youngest tree planter was only 2 years old. We had a talk by Victor Crutchley who owns the land, he has planted lots of woodland and he showed us a wood he planted 15 years ago, the trees were already quite big. We planted sweet chestnut and learnt how to plant and stake the trees. We will be going back regularly to see how they are doing.
On a beautiful crisp Saturday morning we all met at the woods, Chris Holland, an inspirational environmental educator, was our leader for the day. We learnt how to use fire steels, tinder and sparks. We also learned how to use matches safely in the one match challenge and how a bow drill is used.
‘I had so much fun, the best day ever, thank-you I will definitely do it again' Ollie aged 7
Forest School originated in Denmark working with children and young people in the outdoors helping to develop social skills and self esteem. Expert woodsman Mace Brightwater led the Sunday morning sessions and brought excitement and a sense of wonder to the woodland. Forest school ran for six weeks, which went all too quickly. We learnt how to make shelters, and how to work green wood and use tools safely.
‘I loved it because there were lots and lots of activities and fun things to do, my favourite things were when we got to make pixie houses and build our own shelters, I learned so much....I also enjoyed it when we sat around the fire and waited for our leader to tell us what we were going to do that day' Jessica aged 9
Ancient Tree Hunt
Over 50 adults and children visited the trees of Symondsbury on mother's day. The walk was inspired by the Ancient Tree Hunt project to record at least 100,000 ancient trees throughout the UK by 2011. Several of Symondsbury's notable and venerable trees were recorded and entered on the ancient tree hunt map, including the Scot's pines on Colmer's hill. The Lime tree in the centre of the village was decorated with flags displaying messages of hope and peace; the tree was planted in December 1913 just a few months before the start of First World War.
After School Club
The orchard was home to a weekly after school club. Children came from 3 of the local primary schools. In the first few meetings activities such as whittling, tree lore and shelter making were introduced to the group. Gradually as everyone got more familiar with each other and the space there was a chance for more self-determined activity. The children devised their own games and an impromptu art competition. We provided healthy snacks and food tasting sessions and 2 hours outdoors with no TV in sight, it proved to be a winning combination.
‘I like the snacks because I'm hungry after school. Kim and Caroline said we could do drawing or help light the fire or we could go in the bender and play. It didn't feel like school or other clubs where you had to do stuff. We learnt how to tell which tree from which and how to build a bender and how to plant trees, we learnt how to be outside.' Ella aged 11
Wild Trees Week:
Our year of activity ended with full days in the orchard during the beginning of the summer holidays. We invited Mace and Chris who had been working with us to share some more skills. Chris showed everyone how to use a bushcraft knife safely and Mace showed the older ones how to make a stool out of green ash. They were using lots of new tools such as, a shave horse, draw knife and spoke shave.
The younger members learned some games and discovered how to make beads from Elder branches and pendants and bracelets from reclaimed copper wire. Chris joined us on the last day for campfire food and told us wonderful stories from around the world.
The Earth Craft Yurt 2008
Bringing the outdoors into everyday life
This project aims to raise environmental awareness with an accessible, fun and 'hands on' approach that caters for all ages and abilities. The mobile art and craft yurt will engage people, through creativity, to green spaces, natural materials and products of the land. The yurt has potential to reach a far wider audience as it can be included in festivals or celebration, open days, shows or wherever people are gathered.
The project begins with the making of the yurt and skill- sharing program 'The Learning from each other' sessions start in March 2008 with felt making for mixed ability groups. The fully equipped 18 foot coppice yurt will be made during a series of workshops run by master yurt maker Toby Fairlove and will be available from May 2008.
We welcome any practitioners who want to get involved in this project and organisations that would be interested in hiring the yurt.
Chalk and Cheese
Treewise gratefully received a grant from the Chalk and Cheese small grants scheme to make the yurt and unrdergo inclusion training for artists and craftspeople working within the community.