A vibrant volunteer community has formed from the roots of a growing biodiversity project.
Denbighshire County Council’s local provenance tree nursery at Green Gates Farm, St Asaph, aims to produce 5,000 native wildflower plants a year alongside 5,000 native trees.
This project has been funded by Welsh Government, through the Local Nature Partnerships Cymru ENRaW project and Local Places for Nature grant, is also fostering a growing group of volunteers who have become keen to watch their work grow into vital support for county biodiversity.
Trees and plants grown at the nursery eventually will head back out into the countryside to boost biodiversity. Already last autumn nearly 8,000 plants were added to a number of Denbighshire Wildflower Meadows.
Angela Mackirdy, who lives in Rhyl and formally of Shropshire, came to help and support the ambition of the tree nursery last year after contacting the Council’s biodiversity team about environmental opportunities.
She explained: “When I was in Shropshire I used to do a lot of environmental stuff. We had a small holding, we were high level environmentalists. I did bird surveys, nature surveys, plant surveys, we were really involved in the local wildlife group.
“I started coming last year when we were knee deep in mud. I just enjoy it, I enjoy coming out and meeting people and seeing how things have developed. It’s amazing isn’t it.
“When we planted the acorns and then oaks start growing, you just think well in 50 years’ time that tree is going to be growing somewhere.”
Simon Roberts, who runs an allotment at Prestatyn, cites the opportunity to learn as a great aspect of volunteering at the nursery.
“You meet different people that you wouldn’t meet normally and it’s a nice place. You learn a lot more about the wildflowers. We have got a bank down at the allotment, we’ve put stuff in and are trying to get as good as you see outside here.
“Neil (The Tree Nursery Officer) is very knowledgeable about stuff which I find helps me, stuff I can’t grow at home he talks about.”
Husband and Wife Roger and Sue Jones, of St Asaph, are glad not just of giving support to local biodiversity, but being able to travel sustainably to do so.
Roger said: “We are quite green…Sue saw this one last week and I said we should go down and here we are.”
Sue added: “Its handy for us in St Asaph, we can walk or cycle.”
Clare Frederickson, travels over from Glyn Ceiriog in her electric vehicle, to play her part in helping boost the plants and trees for local biodiversity.
She explained: “I really wanted to come, it’s a good opportunity, it’s amazing what’s been done. Tuesdays are a really good day for me it just fell into place and I thought right I will come to see if I can do anything helpful.
“It’s incredible just been here… it’s really lovely, it’s just beautiful.”
Gareth Hooson, from Denbigh, explained his motivation for helping the nursery was part of the bigger picture of climate change.
He said: “I can’t think of anything more pressing than the need for trees right now, that’s primary motivation if you like.
I’ve always had an interest in horticulture, when I started when I was a student, working summer time jobs in horticulture… it’s never left me.”
Gareth started volunteering when the Biodiversity team appealed for help to collect acorns in autumn 2022 to grow at the nursery.
“It’s just seeing that through really. We collected them, we planted them, we potted them on and here they are. Once you get involved, well you’re hooked basically aren’t you because you realise the value in what you are doing.
“The next stage will be to get these out into the environment, to get them going on.
“It’s a valuable thing to be doing I don’t think many people realise the state that we are actually in and we need to pull together and sort it out if we are able to.
“It’s quite a unique facility this I think and to be a part of it is definitely worthwhile. It’s a great project and I hope I’m here to see it in 10 years!”
All the volunteers are looked after by Tree Nursery Officer Neil Rowlands: “They have been brilliant, they are such a great group and so invested in what we are trying to achieve here at the nursery.
“It’s great having them here as it’s become a real vibrant community and everyone is interested in learning how we are growing the plants and trees. Without the volunteers we would have not been able to reach the stage we are at and I am really thankful for all their support.”
Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport, said: “We are really grateful to all the volunteers who have come to the tree nursery to help out. Their efforts are really helping us make a big difference for local biodiversity and also I am pleased they are really enjoying their time at the site.”
If you would like to volunteer to help at the tree nursery, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org