Trees For Survival Planting Days
This past Thursday and Friday (August 5 and 6) we had two of the biggest days of the year at CUE Haven—school plantings through the Auckland Regional Council’s Trees For Survival Programme.
This is the third year that we’ve been involved with the programme and we’ve now completed our fifth TFS planting.
A lot of work comes together on planting days. First of all, the schools will have started the process a year ago, planting the trees from seed and nurturing them over the school year. Gail Farrell, our TFS coordinator is our liaison with the schools and she makes sure everything is moving along smoothly.
Once the planting dates are set, our involvement starts.
Earlier in the year we had planned the area that would be planted and prepared it by spraying out the weeds and grass. We also installed a stile, which is a set of crude steps so our young volunteers (and me) don’t have to climb over the fence.
It is important to get the trees on site well before the planting day because they need to acclimate to their new home, so we rent a truck and pick up the several hundred trees a few weeks before planting day.
Everything was totally ready, except that on Wednesday afternoon as we headed up to CUE Haven we were driving through torrential rain.
The weather forecast was equivocal. After all, we are in the middle of winter and August is traditionally the coldest and wettest month. By evening it had stopped raining and Gail’s text message was “c u 2morrow.”
We were woken by the sound of a downpour, but it quickly cleared and the clouds started to break up. Gail arrived at about 8:30 and we started getting everything ready.
Mahrukh went to work setting up the snacks and organising lunch and Gail and I went up to the planting site. Todd and Westin of Scrub Growers, who helped with the site prep and who are helping with the planting in another area had previously brought up all the TFS trees to the site. Each tree is planted in a little plastic bag and about 20 trees are put in crates.
The hardest job (at least for me) is distributing the crates around the site. Different types of trees do better in different locations because of wind, sun, drainage, etc., so we needed to put the trees exactly where we want them planted. Gail is the expert in that area and she indicated where she wanted the crates placed. I don’t know how much a crate of 20 trees weighs, but when you are carrying it over hilly, slippery ground, the answer is “a lot.”
Gail also set up a portable toilet for the volunteers because the planting site was a bit of a walk from the cottage.
Shortly after ten the bus with our Saint Kentigern School volunteers arrived. In addition to 25 students we had their science teacher, Denise Coleman, five parents and two volunteers from the Auckland Sunshine Rotary Club – Steve Fleming and Duncan Bamfield.
After a welcome snack we gave a short talk about CUE Haven.
The very first trees planted as part of the CUE Haven restoration project were planted by St. Kentigern students and this is the third year that Saint Kentigern School has helped with the CUE Haven restoration project. The trees are about 30-40 cm high when they are planted and we showed the students the site of the first tree planting by their fellow students in August 2008. They were impressed by how much the trees have grown in just two years.
I then took the group up to the planting site where Gail gave a planting (and toilet operation) demo.
There was a two minute rain shower followed by a rainbow and sunshine and we had a fun but tiring morning of planting.
The boys were full of energy and managed to plant almost 600 trees—a new TFS record!
In addition, they found lots of worms, a rainbow skink and a few snails.
Just after one we had finished all the planting and headed down to a fun lunch.
After lunch, the boys presented us with Pohutukawa Springfire trees. We now have three such trees for each of the years the students from Saint Kentigern School have visited and the boys planted it with the other two.
The forecast for Friday was fine and the weather was perfect. Gail again came out early and got set up for the group from Avondale College.
Shortly after ten, horticulture teacher, Adam Jenkins and his colleague Ben came along with 13 high school students.
Friday’s planting was a little more challenging and because the Avondale College students are older so we assigned them a fairly steep slope for planting.
Because it was a smaller group and rougher terrain we managed 400 trees, which still beat Avondale College’s last year’s total. It was another very successful day.
Our two planting days were a major success with over 1,000 trees of different varieties planted. Many thanks once again to the student volunteers from Saint Kentigern School and Avondale College and the teachers, parents and the Rotarians who accompanied them and for their hard work and their interest in our project. We were especially happy that a couple of students who had come out in previous years had volunteered to come back to help out. We look forward to seeing you back at CUE Haven again.
Extra special thanks go to Gail Farrell, our TFS co-ordinator who made sure everyone was in the right place at the right time and for providing invaluable technical advice on what trees to plant and where.
And finally, thanks to Chris, Todd and Westin of Scrub Growers. They helped get the planting site ready and hauled the plants up to the site. Todd and Westin were with us on both planting days and were a great help with placing the plants and providing an extra set of hands.