This autumn/winter marks the 10th and final year of the schools’ woodland creation project where, Covid permitting, 1000 school children and 100s of residents from Andover and surrounding villages will be supported to plant 1000 UK native trees in Harmony Woods and Andover Trees United is calling for everyone in the community not to miss the opportunity to get involved!.
It all began in 2010 with an idea for 10,000 children to 10,000 trees over 10 years and create a new community woodland for all to enjoy. In 2017 this developed into the Great Growing Project – to broaden community engagement, establish an allotment, train volunteers in woodland management, plant flower meadows to improve local biodiversity, support schools to deliver teaching about native trees and wildflowers through practical field studies and the arts, engage young people and the local community to create, nurture, manage and enjoy the new woodland and build a woodland cabin as a base for learning and promoting sustainable lifestyles in harmony with nature.
Harmony Woods sits within a total of 44 acres which together make up the largest part of Hampshire’s Diamond Wood, being one of the 60 new 60-acre woods planted to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and given ‘Diamond Wood’ status by the Woodland Trust. On October 18th 2012 Princess Anne planted the first tree with children from 18 local schools in a muddy ex-farm field next to the building site which would become the Augusta Park housing development. Since then a total of 9,000 children from 30 different schools and many hundred members of the local community have gathered every year in November and December and always over National Tree Week to plant trees; by the end of each winter 1000 more will have been planted. In August, the timber frame for the cabin was erected and the final stages of the build follow.
This month sees what has also become an annual event, a Community Wildflower Planting Day on Saturday 30th October. Everyone is invited to plant wildflowers (raised from seed by volunteers over the spring and summer) and help with wildflower seed sowing to create a new meadow, part of a wildlife habitat trail which is being developed in the new commemorative arboretum area which was planted in 2020 within Harmony Woods.
The final schools’ tree planting weeks in the wood will start with a Community Tree Planting Day on Saturday 13th November. Tree planting with schools will then take place from Monday 15th through to Friday 3rd December and the organisation is looking for as many volunteers as possible to support the children with this celebratory planting.
There will be further opportunities for individuals, groups and companies to plant trees over the winter to the end of February/early March 2022. Although hedgerow planting and replacing failed trees will continue for years to come, the last ‘new’ trees will be planted this winter, thereby also commemorating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
“10 years! Can you believe it? We started with Diamond and we end with Platinum celebrations. It’s just incredible what by working together everyone has achieved” says project founder, Wendy Davis. “All our volunteers are very proud of their involvement with the project and I urge people not to miss this opportunity to be part of something so special and vitally important right now and for the future.”
If people would like to find out more about the project and how they can get involved they can visit the website https://www.andovertrees.org.uk/ways-to-help . They can sign up for the next Community Work-weekend (the last one before planting season starts) on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th October. Work will involve making an extension to the pond and scraping back topsoil in the centre of the arboretum to reveal the chalk (a ‘chalk scrape’) in preparation for the new chalk wildflower meadow in the Habitat’s trail area.