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Feel-Good Community Engagement at Slapton's Free Tree Hub


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February 1, 2023

If you’d like to organise a feel-good community engagement event then a Free Tree Hub would be top of the list! It’s a great reason for a gathering, getting people talking about their local patch, asking questions about nature, and taking away a small tree planting action plan.

With blustery conditions outside, visitors had the luxury of an indoor setting at Slapton Village Hall last Saturday. Well over 120 people from more than 10 South Hams parishes supported the event which was organized by Slapton Tree Warden James Curtis in collaboration with Devon Wildlife Trusts Saving Devon’s Treescapes.

There were 18 different species on offer and all 346 of the UK cell-grown trees found wonderful new homes. The young saplings ranged from the grand White Willows, Alders and Field Maples to flowering and fruiting Rowans, Crab Apples and Wild Cherries. But the delicate and unusual Spindleberry attracted interest and was a firm favourite.

Trees were definitely the main talking point, and the stories and plans for planting them were many and varied: a tree was chosen in memory of a loved one; a local Scout group would be able to develop their tree project; some of the new trees were destined for a wildlife corridor in the centre of a village and for wildlife habitats around a wild pond; gappy hedges would be filled in with thorns and crab apples. All this planning and enthusiasm, vision and love, will go on to benefit the local wildlife!

A team of ten volunteers from Slapton Parish were there, dishing out a warm welcome at reception, trees, advice and encouragement, and 45 teas, coffees and homemade cakes (generous donations were then put in the Devon Wildlife collection basket as a consequence!).

James, who is a member of the South Hams Tree Wardens, said: “This is our second tree hub event. They are so inspiring and bring like-minded people together. It seems people are becoming more aware of the need to help nature out, and tree planting is a great start. Many of our visitors came from neighboring parishes and that’s a great way to make new friends and hear their news and stories. To keep the momentum and interest in trees going we’re already planning our third hub for 2024. We’ll be asking more exhibitors to come along, and we’ll have tree and hedge experts there to answer questions. The idea is to encourage people to linger longer, get inspired, and leave with a nature action plan for their patch. We are also currently in negotiations with DWT to hold a tree seminar in Slapton in the late Summer this year.”

Alice Henderson of the Slapton Field Study Centre was there to lend support and to showcase their forthcoming Spring and Summer events, tree identification books and wildlife leaflets.

A further exciting offshoot from the event is that 15 landowners registered their interest in getting further advice and guidance from DWT on grant funding for planting up to 500 trees on their land. All this could potentially enrich Slapton parish and surrounding area with a whole new forest.

To organise a free tree hub event for next Winter contact at Saving Devon’s Treescapes.

If you’re interested in becoming a tree warden in your parish, find more information and contact details here.