If you build it, they will come. It’s a line from the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner and one that I’ve heard used so many times. Back in 2013, when I worked with Simon King, it was a line he used frequently when describing Wild Meadows – the 10 acres that we were rewilding on the edge of Frome, Somerset. The they that Simon referred to were wildlife – badgers, otters, foxes, kingfishers, buzzards, kestrels, barn owls, tawny owls, voles, shrews … you get the idea. And it worked. From what started as three pretty bland paddocks in a relatively short space of time, became a wildlife haven. It was amazing to witness the transformation.
This past weekend I had the joy of visiting a similar project – this one called the Shine for Life Field of Dreams and is based in Henfield. What was once four fields has become one field that has grand plans to become a wildlife haven. I was there alongside my friends at The Wellderness and around 30 other volunteers to plant trees.
The trees, supplied by Wilding Network, were a variety of native species including oak, ash, willow, dogwood, hawthorn and buckthorn. I believe around 250 were planted in one corner of the field – of which I planted 10. The first was a dogwood that I planted in memory of my Dad who passed away 5 years ago – later this month it would have been his 80th birthday. It felt fitting that the first tree should be for him.
What both the Field of Dreams and The Wellderness are doing planting the seeds of what they (we) hope will be a 1,000 year legacy. There is a beautiful quote that goes …
The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of lifeRabindranath Tagore
This epitomises, I think, how we all were feeling as we planted those trees on Saturday. We may not be the ones who will get to sit in awe of their wonder when they reach maturity – but we know that we have left that legacy for others. If the past couple of weeks of COP26 has shown – we all need to play our part to protect the earth for those who follow in our footsteps. We are after all just caretakers of this land until the next generation are ready to take their turn.
The second tree I planted was an oak. It is planted in celebration of everyone who has supported me on my journey to becoming the Eco Monkey. From a tiny seed of an idea a mighty English oak is growing with love and gratitude for everyone who has been there supporting me – be that financially, physically, metaphorically or emotionally. Thank you.
Invitation: perhaps there is some outdoor space where you are to plant a tree or a plant?
If you feel inspired to take this invitation – I’d love to hear about what you plant. Please do share below or on social media!