Be a #ForceForNature and celebrate the humble hedgerow
Activities to help you connect, learn and care for the unsung heroes of nature; Hedgerows
Thanks to inspiring schools like yours, we planted over 24,000 hedgerow whips last season, which equates to around 4km of hedgerow across the UK! Hedgerows are an oft-overlooked natural treasure. They are wonderful wildlife habitats, provide uplifting greenery and can even help tackle climate change. But to thrive, they need our care and attention. This week we launched the first ever National Hedgerow Week, a nationwide celebration bringing everyone together through activities, creative guides and free online events which celebrate and champion these unsung heroes of our environment.
Continue your #ForceForNature journey by connecting, learning and caring for your local hedgerows this National Hedgerow Week and beyond. Here are a few ideas and activities that you can do in the classroom or share with your school community to highlight the immense contribution these unsung heroes of the natural world make in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.
Tree Care: Marvellous Mulch!
Our partner Lewis McNeill from The Orchard Project explains the importance of using mulch to keep your trees healthy and happy. The video covers the purposes of mulch, how much mulch, the type of mulch you need and much more.
“A healthy tree depends upon healthy soil.”
Care and Community webinar
Our partner Lewis McNeill from The Orchard Project goes through all the important information and top tips to support you caring for your trees and hedgerows. The webinar also gives top tips and ideas for how to get your local community involved with the aftercare for your trees and hedgerows.
“This was very interesting and full of really useful ideas and tips to help ensure our orchard thrives for years to come!”
Tree Warden support webinar
Our Tree Warden Co-ordinator Sam and National School Programme Manager Richard run through how Tree Wardens can help support their local school plant their own orchard!
“Growing a resilient network.”
The Orchards for Schools Tree Care Pledge
With a little maintenance and planning, trees give back so much more than we put into them. But they do need to be cared for, especially in the tender early years of their growth. If you apply for an Orchards for Schools tree pack, you are also signing up to our Orchards for Schools Tree Care Pledge to Plan, Grow and Care for your trees.
Using the resources and guidance provided, you will create a well-thought out tree planting project, making sure you plant your trees in a suitable location. Access to an outdoor tap is also key as the trees will need regular watering to help them establish. You will also plan how you’re going to engage your pupils in learning and caring for your trees beyond the initial planting. You will also have permission to plant the trees in a place where they can remain for years to come.
Trees must be planted where they will have light and space to thrive over the next 25 years. You will carefully position a cane and tie to support their early growth and keep the space around the base of the tree clear of vegetation with a 4cm layer of mulch which helps and provides nutrients.
You will water your trees regularly including during the school holidays if there are periods of dry weather. Thanks to the resources provided, you will engage your pupils with caring, learning from and celebrating your trees through club and lesson activities. You will observe the young trees, checking for disease and pests to ensure they remain healthy.
Find your incredible school
Thank you to over 730 amazing schools that have decided to be a #ForceForNature this planting season and plant an incredible 32,000 fruit trees and fruiting hedgerow whips. Schools from the Isles of Scilly to Fort William in Scotland are taking action, you are all fantastic. See if you can find your school on our interactive map.
Frequently asked questions
Who is eligible for an orchard tree and hedgerow pack?
Fruit and hedgerow tree packs are available to all schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. All nurseries, primary, secondary and special schools both dependent and independent are eligible to apply. Youth organisations and other community organisations are not currently eligible, however they may make an application for tree project support through our Branching Out fund.
This programme is only available to schools who have not previously participated. If you have previously participated in this programme, please sign up to our Young Tree Champions programme.
How much time will my orchard project take to manage?
Compared to growing annual plants like tomatoes and salads, fruit trees require much less annual care once the trees are established. However there is more to do in the first few years in order to get them established; they’ll need to be watered, weeded and guarded for the first three years.
It’s important that senior management allocate time for an enthusiastic member of staff to be assigned the lead contact for the project. The lead contact will need to complete the application process and to make sure there is a plan in place to involve students in your school to help plant, connect, learn, share and care for your thriving fruiting orchard or hedgerow.
Do I need landowner permission for my new orchard or fruiting hedgerow?
Make sure you have permission from the landowner for the proposed location to plant the trees before completing the application form. It is also worth checking your school improvement plan for any new proposed developments onsite.
Where is the best location and how much space will I need?
If you apply for an orchard fruiting tree pack, you will need to ensure a distance of 4 metres between the trunks of each fruit tree (5 trees per pack). If you apply for a fruiting hedgerow pack, you will receive 30 whips per pack which equates to a hedgerow 5-6 metres long and at least 1 metre wide.
Make sure you have permission to plant on the land you plan to use for your orchard and/or hedgerow. Consider any new developments that may be proposed onsite. Plant where your trees can receive lots of sunlight and where the drainage is good. Also consider a location that is accessible to all and allows you to easily water your young trees and hedgerow regularly (near an outdoor tap). Also consider setting up a Young Tree Champion club so that these students can support you with the maintenance.
What type and how many orchard tree and hedgerow packs are available?
You can apply for up to 2 packs, comprising of any combination of orchard trees and hedgerow packs per school. Each orchard fruit tree pack contains 5 maiden fruit trees (2m high). Each hedgerow pack contains 30 whips (1m high).
Orchard fruiting tree pack – Contains everything you need to create your own mini-orchard! Each pack will contain a combination of apple, pear and/or cherry. Each country in the UK will have a different mix of apple, pear and/or cherry trees. It is not possible to select which fruit/varieties of tree you receive.
Fruiting hedgerow pack – Is really great for wildlife and perfect if you don’t have much space. Each pack will contain a combination of native fruiting and field hedgerow whips. (There are no nut producing plants in any of the packs).
When will I receive my orchard tree or hedgerow pack?
Successful applicants will receive their orchard tree and/or hedgerow packs between 1 December 2021 – and 31 March 2022. We will notify you of the exact date of delivery at least one week in advance.
Please remember that deliveries must be made to manned school sites, so ensure you note a delivery address where someone will be available to receive the packs during work hours.
How do we keep our trees alive and healthy?
When your tree and/or hedgerow packs arrive get them into the ground straight away and give them a good water – they’ll be thirsty from their journey! Make sure you use the stakes, tie and guard to help protect your young trees from rabbits and strong winds.
It might be useful to set up a young tree champion club. Recruit students from all years that really want to help save the planet and become a #ForceForNature. You will need their help to regularly water your orchard and/or hedgerow for the first year and beyond, especially when the weather is dry. Your young tree champions can also engage the whole school in learning about the wonder of your trees.
Consider recruiting a local Tree Warden (see Tree Wardens) to help provide advice and expertise on caring for your trees.
Before your bareroot trees or hedgerow whips arrive, mark out the location of your trees and make sure you’ve removed the turf or immediate vegetation (1m radius). To give your trees and/or hedgerow the best start make sure you dig each hole 30-50cm deep and turn the soil over, removing weeds and add mulch. This will give your trees the nutrients they need to grow.
Can our fruit trees be planted in pots?
Yes, fruit trees can be planted in pots – the trees you’ll be provided are the maximum size recommended for containers, and you’ll need pots/containers of 1 metre x 1 metre x 1 metre. They should be planted with mulch, to help provide vital nutrients for the young trees and retain water. Pots should have drainage holes in the bottom to prevent roots becoming waterlogged if overwatered or due to rain.
Want to know more?
Learn more about the Tree Council’s Orchard for Schools programme.
Inspiring learning outdoors!
Christchurch Primary, London
Thanks to The Orchard Project, the school community became orchard experts, successfully planting, pruning and harvesting from their thriving orchard and sharing their skills and expertise with other schools.
A great place to play, learn and relax!
Thanks to Learning through Landscapes, the students and community from Dunipace Primary have learnt about and grown their very own orchard full of local Scottish varieties of apples, plums and pears.
No soil? No problem!
Normand Croft Community School, Kensington, London
Thanks to The Orchard Project, this school transformed their barren, unused space into a thriving, living learning area! “From the planning and fruit-tasting of the consultation to the planting and caring of the trees – this has been the most wonderful learning journey!” Annie Walker, Outdoor Learning Project Leader.