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Right Trees in the Right Place in Maidstone for Soroptimist Centenary

Sharon Forghani was our project lead on SI Medway and Maidstone’s Soroptimist Centenary Tree Planting campaign as part of our commitment to climate change. The UK needs millions more trees to reach its 2050 carbon net-zero target. To be effective in tackling climate change it is important the right trees are planted in the right place.

The Woodland Trust were offering free trees to schools and community groups funded by Sainsburys, Lloyds Bank, Ovo Energy, DFS, Players of Peoples Postcode Lottery, Joules, Bank of Scotland and Sofology.

Prior to applying to the Woodland Trust, Sharon contacted Andy Jesson, Parks Officer, Maidstone Borough Council enquiring about any suitable sites for the tree planting. He identified two potential sites and the one chosen was Bridge Mill Way Recreation Ground in Tovil. This is a former landfill site Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) wanted to beautify and re-wild in line with their Biodiversity and Climate Change Action Plan.

In June, Sharon successfully applied to the Woodland Trust for the large Wildlife pack that consisted of 420 tree saplings. The pack was made up of 6 varieties that included hawthorn, rowan, blackthorn, silver birch, hazel, and common oak. In addition, sufficient canes, and spiral protectors with clear instructions on how to plant. We were satisfied these would be the right trees for the site to provide food and shelter for wildlife.

The tree saplings were due for delivery in November, initially being told it would be between 1 and 12 November. Plans were put in place for the Mayor of Maidstone and Regional President Yvonne to join us and break the ground to start the tree planting on 27 November. However, these plans had to be put on hold due to national transport shortages and the Woodland Trust notifying us they could not give a confirmed delivery date for the tree saplings.

The tree saplings eventually arrived on 29 November and were delivered to Nellie Adjaye’s house into the nursing care of Nellie and her neighbour Jackie, (who looked after the saplings when she was away), covering them with a fleece each night it was frosty. Thanks to Nellie and Jackie we had healthy tree saplings to plant, some already beginning to form buds.

A new date in January was arranged for the tree planting that turned out to be a very foggy morning. Carol Infanti and Sharon collected the tree saplings and took them to the site where they were joined by 8 other club members, 2 ‘Soroptimisters’ and Andy, Parks Officer.

The Mayor of Maidstone Councillor Fay Gooch broke the ground to start the planting of the 420 tree saplings. Regional President Yvonne Freeman presented the Mayor with a small gift in appreciation of her support of the event. Having come well prepared, Yvonne got down to tree planting after receiving instructions from the Parks Officer .

Derek Mortimer, Deputy Mayor who is the local councillor for Tovil came along to offer his support. He was delighted with the support Medway and Maidstone Soroptimists were giving for the local community and he also got dug in.

It was a busy morning but with all the hard work and efforts of everyone, we successfully planted all 420 of the tree saplings in an area equivalent to the size of a football pitch by lunchtime.

A big thank you to Sharon, volunteers and our partners for a job well done and hopefully a lasting legacy for the future.


Capturing the tree planting