Avondale College TFS Planting—May 29, 2012
On Tuesday, May 29, for the fourth year in a row, horticulture students from Avondale College visited CUE Haven for a tree planting day as part of the Trees for Survival programme.
A few weeks ago we had gone out to Avondale College to collect the plants that the students had grown from seed in their nursery. We took the plants up to CUE Haven so that they would have time to acclimatize to their new home.
In anticipation of the planting day, we had been watching the weather forecast because the prediction was for heavy rain on the planting day but it turned out to be fine.
Gail Farrell and Sarah Brenchley of Trees for Survival came out and together we laid out the plants at the planting site.
At a quarter to eleven, John Norton, the Horticulture teacher at Avondale College arrived with a group of thirty-one students. Ben Reay, a chemistry teacher who has participated in each Avondale College visit so far also came along as well as Felicia Renaud, another horticulture teacher.
The students had morning tea and a short introduction to the CUE Haven project. Nestlé NZ generously provided beverage mixes and Milo energy bars for the students to gear them up for the planting.
We then drove the students up to the planting site in groups. The site we were planting is a slope facing into the wind so we needed to be careful about which plants to put where to ensure that wind resistant trees were placed to provide protection to other trees as they grow up.
While we were planting, I got a call from Mahrukh on the walkie-talkie. Although everything was going smoothly up at the planting site, trouble was brewing down below. The students had arrived on a big bus and while trying to park it, the bus driver had accidently managed to get well and truly stuck.
I took a break from planting and tried to pull the bus out with our truck but it was no match for the bus and we called for reinforcements from the bus company.
An occasional light shower passed through but for the most part the conditions were fine and the students finished up the planting and had managed to plant a little over 400 trees in about an hour and a half.
The group then walked down to the wetlands area. There, Rachel Griffiths the Auckland Council’s Environmental Services Waicare Community Coordinator, gave the students a short presentation on water quality issues associated with rural wetlands. She described how planting trees improves water quality and benefits biodiversity. Rachael demonstrated sampling techniques and did an analysis of the water quality of one of the ponds and also showed the students some of the macroinvertebrates she found living in the pond.
After Rachel’s demonstration, the students walked to the cottage and enjoyed lunch.
In the meantime, the bus crisis continued unabated. The students needed to be back on the bus by 1:45 and departure time was rapidly approaching. The bus company sent out another bus in case the first one couldn’t be extricated in time.
After a lot of digging and creative use of timber and jacks, they managed to lever the bus into a position that enabled the tires to get a grip and the Avondale College group left in the original bus and on time.
A big thank you to John, Felicia, Ben and the Avondale College Students. We really appreciate the contributions you have made to CUE Haven and we hope you will come back and see us again.
We also want to thank Nestlé NZ for supporting the project and providing the energy drinks and bars for the volunteers and a special thank you to Gail and Sarah of TFS, and Rachael from Auckland Council, Waicare for their assistance, advice and support. It’s always great to have you at CUE Haven!