Part 2 of a 2 part series: for part one see 'Creating the Forest - planning the planting'

Once planning is out of the way and the day arrives, it's all about getting people in the right place at the right time to make sure that our event goes off without a hitch...

By Jo Roberts ǀ Community Engagement Officer, Forest of Marston Vale

Children planting trees in the Forest of Marston Vale

Our tree planting days are a lot of fun, and a lot of hard work!

Myself and members of the Forest Team will cover various shifts/perform different duties on the day to make sure that it runs as smoothly as possibly. We’re there to direct, support and of course be
on-hand for any questions! We also get to have some of the fun too – planting trees and talking to members of the public to find out how and why they got involved in our tree planting, and what helping create the Forest means to them.

The team will also set up the central information marquee and “hub”, making sure we’re displaying a map of the Forest and information about who we are and what we do, in the form of leaflets and posters. The marquee is also where our tree planters can take pictures with our ‘Today we planted….. trees’ blackboard. This always proves really popular, with lots of families posing for photos after they’d been planting. Some of the photos turned out to be absolutely lovely!

Our invaluable crew of volunteers perform a lot of the important tasks on the day, and I’ll work with Sally our fantastic Volunteer Coordinator to make sure we have volunteers for all the necessary areas:

  • helping at the Forest Centre - showing people where the buses leave from, and helping marshal the crowds. These guys are my eyes and ears at the Centre when I’m out on site – if the buses are still full, what time the crowds start easing off in the afternoon etc
  • an early on-site team, helping to set up the kit
  • signposting - waiting at the bus stop near site, to point people in the direction of where we’re planting (if it’s a big site, we might need some volunteers at the site entrance too, to point people in the right direction!)
  • helping our Comms Officer - getting photo consent forms, taking photos and engaging with our visitors
  • practical help - giving planting demonstrations to attendees, keeping track of tools and trees on site (you’d be amazed how many get left in random places all over the field!)
  • our host team - keeping a note of how many people attend, giving out leaflets, thanking people as they leave, giving out thank you certificates (if still available)
  • clear up - packing up after the event, leaving our site as it was found.

Because the event runs from 11am to 3pm, I try to make sure we have volunteers doing these things in shifts. If its bitterly cold, the last thing I want is to have people out on site all day, so if there are 12 volunteer roles we need filled, I’d need to rustle up 24 volunteers. Thankfully our volunteers turn out in their droves for this, and their support means we can run an event that we’d need over 20 members of staff to put on!

When the event is finished we move on to the pack-up - the portaloo company will come to remove the unit, the marquee people take it down, and John packs away his trailer. I spend time checking the field for stray tools and trees that might be lying around, and pack those all up into the truck.

The next day I’m back in work: I’ll wash down all the tools, air and clean the gazebos, and pack everything away – ready to start planning all over again for next year!

It’s been a real blow to us all that we haven’t been able to welcome you to our planting days this year, but I hope you’ve found it interesting to find out how I usually go about planning our event, and we really hope to see you next year!

Creating the Forest of Marston Vale takes an enormous amount of resources, and as a charity we rely heavily on public support and donations to be able to continue our work.

If you're able to, please consider making a small regular donation to help us grow.

I'd like to help