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Tree Planting Programme

On 23rd November, 2021 Upper School pupils started the ESS Tree Planting Programme. Classes 11 and 12  volunteered, planting up a hedge of 2- and 3-year-old Hawthorn that were about a foot high, coppicing willows (for constructing a fence), weeding out potted seedlings and forestry work.


The purpose of the visit was to volunteer alongside Malcolm Le Maistre, a ‘multi-cultural tree planter’, who has been reclaiming a neglected bit of land near Caldercruix near Airdrie for the last 10 years, re-establishing an original Scottish ecosystem with around.


10,000 trees and more than 30 species in his woodland, are situated an hour from Edinburgh Steiner School’s campus. The pupils travelled by an environmentally-friendly coach, with Class 11 Guardian and veteran school gardener, Foppe Jellema as well as the Guardian for Class 12, Deirdre Hill.


On a walk round the loch, the pupils took in the sight of mature Hawthorn trees growing by the water, which have a mythical, spiritual significance in Scotland – thought to bring bad luck to the person who cuts one down. These thorny shrubs are native to Scotland.


They learnt about the edible berries and plants in the wild, such as hogweed, being smelt by the pupils (right), hawthorn berries, tasted from the surrounding trees, dock into ingredients such as flour, from experienced forager Jamima, who conducts workshops on the subject.



And heard from Malcolm about the pros and cons of agri-forrestry as they experienced the mono-culture of a nearby cultural citrus spruce plantation, that in a few years will be entirely cut down for commercial use.


Packed with waterproof boots, garden gloves, spades and loppers, this first trip is intended to be the first of an ongoing termly project involving the various Classes in the Upper School, raising environmental awareness and doing a little towards the effects of climate change.


They ended with a bonfire and food in the forest.