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Green Influencers inspire a tree nursery in Norfolk

March 10, 2023

Green Influencers in Dereham (Norfolk) are the proud recipients of a new grant worth £4,510, which has been generously awarded by Shared Outcomes Fund: Trees Outside Woodland programme. Part of the fund will help extend water pipes from the school building to the nursery, providing year-round irrigation for new trees.  

The tree nursery will feature alder, beech, holly, hawthorn and include four new planting beds which have the potential to grow 1800 saplings. These young trees will be distributed to local organisations and individuals hoping to plant native trees, improve green spaces and promote healthy trees locally.

Seeds have been stratified by students over winter

Ben Earle, Learning Officer at the Environmental Hub at Gressenhall Museum, has spent the winter season helping Green Influencers to forage seeds and stratify them, helping seeds lie dormant ready for the warmer weather.  The community garden will also feature an orchard of native apple trees. The orchard is being planted with the help of East Anglian Apples and Orchard Project and features native apple trees including Banns, Striped Beefing and Green Rolands -a mixture of cooking, eating and hybrid apple varieties. 

 In 2022, the National Trust reported that England and Wales has lost more than half of their native orchards since 1900, and our new development hopes to make a small contribution to a national resurgence in locally grown fruit. The student-led Orchard Committee are organising a summer wassail event to entertain partners and stakeholders and usher in a year of good fortune for new trees.

Plotting where the tree nursery's raised beds will be positioned

The tree nursery and orchard development will support teaching across the curriculum and improve student’s understanding of horticulture, biodiversity, pollination and the ‘wood wide web’. As well as community organising and campaign management, students will develop practical skills in pruning, pest-deterrent, wood work, soil analysis and composting. This youth-led project demonstrates how local action can make a big difference to the climate crisis. 

SOS-UK and the Green Influencers Scheme have been working with Northgate High School in Dereham since January 2022. This Youth Social Action project, funded by The Ernest Cook Trust, #iwill fund and DCMS, invites students to lead a campaign that benefits their local environment and community. In summer 2022, Green Influencers enjoyed a trip to Gressenhall’s Environmental Hub - which inspired students t start their own community garden.

“How wonderful it is to see young people, our future, take responsibility for the well-being of our precious planet in this way, and I’m so pleased we’re able to help support this worthwhile project through the Gressenhall Environment Hub and funding from the Trees Outside Woodland programme.”

Cllr Eric Vardy, cabinet member for environment and waste, Norfolk County Council 

"The students are excited about the opportunities the funding has created and are busy planning and researching. It will allow them to take their learning outdoors, learn new skills, and take the lead on an important environmental project."

Northgate High School, Miss K Theobald, Orchard Committee Lead

Northgate High School are looking for Norfolk-based gardener-volunteers to help build and maintain the community garden. Jobs will include helping construct planting beds, watering trees, composting and maintaining the garden outside of school hours. If you have gardening experience and would like to support our project, please contact alex.day@sos-uk.org for more information.