Helping to put something back…

February 26, 2020

As part of our partnership with Carr’s Group and Carrs Billington Agriculture we invited their staff to come and plant trees with us at Hesper Farm in Bell Busk.

Joanne Rome was one of the attendees on the day and she fills us in on her experience.

Last month, an email caught my attention looking for volunteers to go tree planting. As someone who works sitting behind a desk, a chance to spend an active day outdoors sounded attractive. Carr’s are working with Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust to offer free advice and funding to Carr’s customers who want to create new, native broadleaf woodlands on their land.

Planting trees is great for the environment. It helps to:

  • combat climate change. Six trees will absorb one tonne of carbon over a fifty-year lifespan;
  • create new habitats for wildlife and support biodiversity;
  • protects against flooding and erosion and improves water quality; and
  • restore of our natural landscape. The UK has only 13% woodland cover, compared with an EU average of 37% – in the Yorkshire Dales that figure falls below 5%.

Agriculture has not always had the best press lately. So, an initiative like this seems a very positive step and the chance to “put something back” quite literally. Farmers are, after all, the guardians of our countryside.

Our tree planting was to take place on Hesper Farm near Skipton, home to a renowned dairy herd and an on-farm Skyr yoghurt making facility.

The Carr’s volunteers came from across the business including Old Croft, Bendalls Engineering and Carrs Billington. As we left the A65 we moved onto tiny winding single-track roads that made me appreciate Cumbrian roads!

We met staff from YDMT at the farm who would be helping and instructing us. Armed with shovels and mallets, we made our way through the farm and up a very muddy and slippery hillside. The area we were planting was a gill at the side of a large field. The farmer could make little use of this part of the field and it was extremely wet, an ideal place to plant trees.

Our target for the day was to plant 330 trees including oak, ash, willow, hawthorn and crab apple. We worked in teams of two or three with one digging and the others planting, staking and covering each sapling with a plastic tube. These stay on for up to five years and the expected success rate for the planting is around 75%.

Of course it rained and it was rather windy but as we worked at a brisk pace I did not feel cold at all – apart from making a very bad choice in walking boots that turned out not to be waterproof – wellies will be the choice in future!

In under three hours our work was done, and we made our way back down the hill to the barn for a warm drink and to eat our packed lunches. We also got to sample the farm’s Skyr yoghurt – a first for me and some quite exotic flavours.

We all enjoyed the day and I would recommend to all – no level of expertise or high level of fitness is required – we were certainly a “mature” team of planters!

It was also a chance to earn some kudos from my teenage children, who think an office-based job is their worst nightmare. They couldn’t believe this counted as a day’s work.

I would love to revisit the farm one day and see just how our woodland has flourished.

The accountant in me must do the calculation that our 330 trees will = 55 tonnes of carbon.