Updated: Nov 28, 2022
By Louise Barnetson
The children of the Witterings area have been busy this Autumn helping us to process and plant up tree seeds to eventually grow on at our West Wittering Tree Nursery. Through our Wittering Area Community Conservation Project, funded by the Woodger Trust, we've been running sessions enabling children from the 1st Birdham and Witterings Scout Group and East Wittering Primary School to get hands-on with growing trees from seed.
We have gathered local acorns, blackthorn berries (sloes), hawthorn berries, rowan berries, crab apples, and field maple seeds for the children to work with. With the berries it is necessary to extract the seeds from the fruit and it's safe to say that smashing up berries with big sticks has been a big hit with the children!
Above: children at East Wittering Primary School extracting blackthorn seeds.
Above: the Cubs getting hands-on with the berries to squeeze out the seeds.
Above: sorting out hawthorn berries ready for processing (aka smashing them up!).
After the berries have been mashed, they are immersed in water - good seeds sink to the bottom and bad seeds float to the top. Similarly with acorns, we put them in a bucket of water and the good acorns sink to the bottom and bad acorns float to the top. The 'good' seeds are most likely to germinate.
Above: a bumper crop of crab apples collected in the school grounds by the children at East Wittering Primary School. The children took great pleasure in bashing up the apples to find the seeds inside.
Above: Planting up the seeds in pots. The children we encouraged to take a pot or two home to grow their own trees and the rest will eventually been planted out at our West Wittering Tree Nursery.
Above: This proud Cub sent us this photo of the baby oak tree she has managed to grow from our session.
We've been running regular sessions with the local Beavers, Cubs and Scouts to engage the children and young people with local wildlife and nature. As well as the tree seed processing, the sessions to date have included pond dipping, bug hunting, tree identification, building bird and bat boxes, and tree planting. We're planning to make bug hotels and bird feeders early in the New Year. Before the summer holidays we ran a successful engagement day and after-school club with Birdham Primary School where our activities also including owl pellet dissection, and we are now running a similar after-school club with East Wittering Primary School and we hope to work with more local schools in the near future.