The Wirral Home Educators Roots & Shoots group was honoured to be asked to take part in Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots tree planting programme. When we were approached, we started brainstorming and lots of ideas surfaced. The final idea, however, came to us when we visited a couple of playgrounds with established apple trees on them. We instantly agreed that we should follow this example and plant fruit trees in playgrounds close to us because in fact, we realised, planting fruit trees ticks all three boxes of a R&S project: helping animals, environment and people.
Community apple trees are so much more than just free apples. Indeed, they provide snacks for children (and adults) visiting the playgrounds. But lots of children would not be able to identify an apple or a pear tree for they often only see the fruit in the supermarket. This project would give that knowledge to visiting children.
Lots of apples fall of the trees throughout the season and these provide food for a range of animals, from worms and other invertebrates to birds and small mammals. The fallen, decomposing apples, degraded by the weather, worms and bacteria will provide nourishment for the soil. These trees will also do their bit by removing CO2 from the air and provide shelter and nesting sites for birds, especially when fully grown.
And finally, children of our R&S group will be able to plant trees and understand what it takes for them to grow and mature. There will be aftercare as apple trees usually need watering in their first year and pruning for many years to come. The sense of responsibility this long-term exercise will give our children is very important to us.
We are in touch with a local council (Cheshire West and Chester) which is very supportive towards our plan. We are currently in the process of identifying the final locations for the trees to be planted. We are hoping to be able to plant by two playgrounds in the area which are the following
1) Whitby Park
2) Trumans lane
Both playgrounds have plenty of green areas within and around them that would allow apple trees to flourish.