Tree Wardens and their communities have been proving key to the success of The Tree Council’s Hedgerow Harvest project.
Networks throughout South-east England have been involved with the project, supported by a Local Food Grant from the Big Lottery.
Fifty fruit hedges have been planted as a result of the project, including demonstration hedges to generate local interest in foraging and planting productive hedges. Some of the hedges are substantial plantings of 200 metres, with over 1,000 fruiting hedging shrubs, trees and climbers.
The idea is to inspire other groups to grow similar hedges in their own communities.
Tree Wardens have also been involved with many of the foraging walks, talks – such as about the medicinal value of hedgerow plants – and jam and pickle-making workshops and tastings which are all part of the project.
In Kent, for example, Tree Wardens were involved with major plantings. One was two days of hedge planting by the community in the parish of Bearsted and Thurnham. On the first day, 195 residents – including families and children from Cubs and Beaver groups – turned up for phase one of the planting, which was no mean feat to organise. A few days later another 65 people turned up to complete the planting.
The other planting was a hedge flanking the Hadlow Access Trail on land owned by Hadlow College near Tonbridge. About 100 people were involved, including nine tutors/lecturers and their students.
In Surrey, Tree Warden Simon Bold led a group of local volunteers who planted hedges and trees on Blanchman’s Farm Local Nature Reserve near Warlingham.
“The walk around the perimeter of the site has been greatly enhanced by the addition of the hedges and a variety of additional trees, including walnut,” he said.
“We already have the local WI visiting the site in autumn to collect fruits and we hope far more people will now do the same. We have a ‘free-to-all’ policy at Blanchman’s Farm with respect to edible fruits, and what the public cannot harvest is enjoyed by the local wildlife.”
Elsewhere in the county, Nutfield Tree Warden Liz Ramsay joined pupils, staff and others at the local primary school in December for a day of hedge and tree planting and related outdoor activities. It was the culmination of the school’s Living Hedge Project, which involved the whole school community.
The school wildlife committee, consisting of parents, staff and pupils, hold regular working parties through the year and – with Liz’s help and advice – will be responsible for the future maintenance of the new hedge and trees.
The whole project is underpinned by the Hedgerow Harvest website, providing information for individuals and groups wanting to plant productive hedges and recipes collected from Tree Wardens, Tree Council members and others to inspire people to use the free food on their doorsteps. Try blossom ice cream, for example, rosemary and rowan jelly, or buttered deadnettle (an alternative to spinach). Or how about gin sloe chocolate?
There is also a school resource pack for key stage 3, which The Tree Council produced in partnership with member organisation, Learning through Landscapes.
• To find out more go to www.hedgerowharvest.org.uk