Delight turned to dismay for the pupils of Columbia Primary School in London’s Bethnal Green when a strawberry tree, a gift to the school garden, disappeared. To make matters worse, it wasn’t just any old strawberry tree. This one had been donated by the Trees for Sacred Spaces project run by The Conservation Foundation and funded by the Mayor of London which see many trees planted in London during National Tree Week.
But thanks to a successful ‘Missing’ poster campaign, dismay gave way quickly to delight once more as the tree was returned to the school garden. It will soon be planted in the school playground.
“I just thought we'd have nothing to lose by hoping for the best and appealing to people's better nature in putting up our 'Missing' poster,” explained Columbia Primary’s Ingrid Chen. “Luckily, it worked out for us”. She continues, “We're planning to plant two of the other Trees for Sacred Spaces with our youngest children in the next couple of days, in a local park as part of their Forest School learning. The returned strawberry tree will be planted soon in our playground, where we're having a big drive to 'green the grey' (as it's largely tarmac), and this tree may become part of our plan to have a mobile forest/orchard”.
“We’re absolutely thrilled at this piece of good news. It was sad to think the school could have been without its beautiful strawberry tree,” said Conservation Foundation Director David Shreeve. “There are 12 different varieties in the Trees for Sacred Spaces project, all chosen to improve air quality and also support bees by providing pollen, nectar or resin. The strawberry trees are by far and away the lightest. The others are extremely heavy and wouldn’t have gone walkabout so easily.”
Churches across London are making their neighbourhood a greener, cleaner and more bee-friendly place as part of a new project supported by the Mayor of London.
The Conservation Foundation’s Trees for Sacred Spaces project is enabling London churches to plant trees that support bees and other pollinators as part of the Mayor’s ambition to make London one of the greenest cities in the world. The tree plantings also offer an opportunity for churches to organise events and ceremonies that involve members of other faiths in their parishes to celebrate and help to enhance the environments that people of all faiths and no faith share.
During Interfaith Week (12 – 19 November) and National Tree Week (25 November – 3 December) The Conservation Foundation is delivering over 300 trees to 53 sites across London. Whilst not all churches have suitable spaces, those with nowhere to plant a tree are donating theirs to a school or community garden within their parish, helping to increase London’s tree canopy cover and support bees and other wildlife to thrive in London.
Churches were offered a choice from 12 different species: hawthorn, bird cherry, wild cherry, whitebeam, crab apple, rowan, lime, tulip tree, Italian cypress, black mulberry, strawberry tree and yew. Of these, rowan, wild cherry and mulberry are the most in demand. All improve air quality and also support bees by providing pollen, nectar or resin.