In 2008 and 2009, Kerry Earth Education Project (KEEP) received funding from The Heritage Council under the Local Heritage Scheme to do a Tree Nursery project with local schools/community groups using seed collected from Ballyseedy Woods, a local native mixed deciduous woodland. Previous groups were assisted in planting their trees back into Ballyseedy Woods and other sites and collecting more seed to continue their nurseries. In 2010, the Heritage Council again granted funding for the project to be continued with the existing six groups and to be extended into other education centres. With the funding available, KEEP chose Sonairte to take the project into local schools in Meath and Dublin.
The long-term idea is to create a sustainable project for children and adults involved to learn how easy and important it is to grow trees for future generations. This includes learning about basic botany, the variety of native trees in Ireland, the importance of native trees and hedges to our local environment and to the overall biodiversity of Ireland. The project also offers the opportunity to explore a nearby woodland and discover local heritage in the area.
Each of the groups in Kerry took a trip into Ballyseedy Woods to collect tree seeds and to study the woodland biodiversity. They planted their two year old trees back into their school grounds and Ballyseedy Woods. Each group cleared their tree nurseries – one year old trees were potted on, the bed was weeded thoroughly and more leaf mould was added. Then seed collected by each group in Ballyseedy Woods was sown ready for next year.
The tree nurseries were very successful overall with the following results:
- Blennerville National School – potted 100 trees (Oak, Hazel, Holly, Crab Apple, Hornbeam, Rowan, Beech), planted out 20 trees into Ballyseedy
- Nuachabhail National School – potted 76 trees, planted out 20 trees into Ballyseedy
- Caherleheen National School – potted 70 trees
- Flemby National School – potted 30 trees, planted out 10 trees into Ballyseedy
- Ardfert National School – potted 48 trees
- Shanakill Rahoonane Community Garden – potted 130 trees (Oak, Hornbeam, Hazel, Beech), planted out approximately 100 trees back into Ballyseedy
The whole project was brought to Sonairte in Meath where two educators were trained to deliver the programme to schools in their locality. This involved starting tree nurseries with two schools over a three day training period. Each school started with a trip to their local woodland to collect tree seeds and learn about woodland biodiversity. They took seeds back to the school, built a tree nursery raised bed, filled it with leaf mould and sowed their tree seeds. Each school then had a trip to Sonairte to learn more about native trees and woodland ecology and the roll in a biodiverse organic food producing garden.