The Freetree Initiative
At FreeTree, our aim is to provide local individuals, community groups and schools or other educational establishments with free trees, either broadleaf deciduous or fruit/nut trees to plant in their gardens/community space or woodland and to expand this service to other parts of Wales and the United Kingdom. This will encourage the growth of local provenance trees for both firewood and food and educate local individuals and groups in the propagation, planting and care of trees. FreeTree will provide trees from our home base in Esgair-Rhiw and also locate other potential sources of free trees from local woodlands, orchards and gardens or community spaces. Our website will enable us to liaise between those who wish to offer free trees and those who have space in which they wish to grow trees.
What is natural re-generation?
The natural regeneration of woodland, from seeds dispersed by nearby trees or by other natural means (such as vegetative propagation, regrowth and seed dispersal by birds) depends on
woodland type and the proximity of a seed source. It is of benefit to wildlife and landscape character and can create a natural and irregular structure, of mixed age and species composition, with associated ground flora and shrub layer. Overall, it results in a woodland that has a largely natural composition and appearance.
However, there are many circumstances where naturally re-generated tree seedlings do not come to maturity. Where the seeds drop too close to the parent tree to get enough light, water and nutrition or where there are high levels of competition from weeds or other ground vegetation. Natural grazing also takes its toll and of course, sometimes the trees are just growing in the wrong place.
Who are FreeTree?
It was this challenge we faced at our home farm, lots of trees re-generated in our ancient meadows and small woodland but nowhere to transfer them where there would be space to grow into mature trees. Whereas once the goats used to happily munch on the tasty treat the goats are long since gone, so another way had to be found to manage all this new growth.
March 2009 saw the birth of FreeTree with our very first branch at the farm, 1,000ft up above the small mid-Wales town of Rhaeadr. We started potting up the tree seedlings and giving them away at green fairs, one of our trees is now standing proudly in the grounds of Builth Wells High School and our links with Rhaeadr Transition Town movement is helping to spread the word that we have trees that need new homes. We're part of the WWOOFing group and have volunteers from around Britain and abroad helping us to manage our little tree nursery. In this last year we have given away 50 trees to local people and community groups and only last month we had our first opportunity to link a local tree planter who had over stock, with a small woods owner. This resulted in nearly 3,000 bare root larch and sitka spruce trees being planted where they would otherwise have been destroyed.
How can you get involved?
We give away trees for free, so can you. We're launching our website this month to enable other people out to link up, encourage more growing of native trees and find an effective use for this precious resource. FreeTree is a result of our desire to pass on these trees, find places for them to grow and help other people to do the same.
Our mission is to connect people who want to grow trees with people who have tree seedlings which they don't need. Anyone can join and use our message boards on our new website
www.freetree.info to either look for trees, offer your own seedlings or volunteer to get involved in FreeTree. We will also be sharing your news, community tree planting events and growing tips for new tree growers. We're especially keen to make connections with local woodland owners who have seedlings which they can't use. If you want to get involved then drop us a line at
FreeTree, Jules Newman & Kat McNidderwill also be giving away trees and giving advice on how to set up your own branch of FreeTree at events like the Rhayader Green Fair on July 10. We also made our contribution at this year;s Hay Literary Festival, complementing the Garden in Transition.
get more trees growing