Tree planting in West Park, Leeds

Find out how our green guild got involved in helping Leeds City Council in planting trees for the local community.

Earlier this year our #guild-greenguild team volunteered to plant trees in the West Park playing fields.

We gathered on a wintry Tuesday morning working alongside our Leeds City Council mentors. Armed with a bunch of tools and a set of hardy gloves (for those who forgot) and an exceptionally stylish high-vis waistcoat we got ready for the day ahead.

The thing about planting trees is that you have to get the trees to the actual planting area. Otherwise, you’re just making holes in the ground. So, everybody loaded up with either armfuls or wheelbarrows of saplings and returned to the field.

Our team leader then began a moderately scientific yet effective approach to appropriately planting and spacing the trees to prevent overcrowding. He made a large noughts and crosses arrangement of white strips of material, taped together to make a 3 x 3 grid of points to plant the trees. Very sophisticated technology!

And so we worked in small groups making parallel lines of trees (well, mostly). Let’s just say that some of us ‘freestyled’ as the day went on, which I believe was described as a more ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ approach.

Some of the other volunteers drifted off after lunch but our hardy quintet persevered for the afternoon, finishing the planting we had started. We then moved on to larger trees that involved using a spade and an interesting technique to get the tree under the soil without digging a hole! Who knew?

We alternated roles between grid markers, hole makers, tree ‘distributors’, planters and arguably the most challenging job of the day, sapling extraction — in other words getting (intact) trees from their seedling pods.

Even though the skies were grey, the wind biting at times with occasional drizzle, we continued. Undeterred (mostly) by the weather we laughed in the face of fatigue. Unburdened by the weight of the mud on our boots and ignoring the calluses forming on our otherwise delicate and keyboard-friendly digits — we never shirked our responsibilities (except occasionally to pose for the camera).

Then before we knew it, we had planted in the region of 2,000 trees consisting of alders, sycamores, cherry, ash and several other varieties. A great achievement for all involved and a legacy for future generations that we can be proud of. Not just those who grafted, but the other organisations who enabled their people to give something back to the community.

Satisfied with our work, we returned our tools, gloves and high-vis waistcoat(reluctantly) and gathered our belongings. Before heading home, we enjoyed an all-important carbohydrate-rich refreshment courtesy of a local establishment. A fitting end to a day well spent.