This summer Veolia, in partnership with the community action charity Groundwork, launched a new campaign to help schools blossom with biodiversity and join a national network of orchards. Since the call went out for schools across the country to sign up, Veolia has donated 500 trees to over 100 primary and secondary schools.
The potential of trees in urban environments to combat the climate crisis is immense, not only in their contribution to increasing biodiversity and improving air quality, but their capacity to mitigate the effects of temperature rises. But more trees are needed, particularly in urban areas where temperatures are comparatively higher than rural areas and water scarce. The extreme heat waves experienced in the UK just this summer highlighted the impact that global warming has on our local natural environments, with many trees losing their leaves like it was already autumn.
By donating orchards to schools, Veolia is placing the power of positive change in the hands of the future guardians of our planet. School children across the country now have the opportunity to plant their very own orchard and learn how to care for them until they bear fruit, providing them with healthy, locally sourced food and nurturing their wellbeing through a reconnection with nature.
This campaign is being powered by Veolia’s Sustainable Schools programme which launched during the pandemic to continue its work in educating children and young adults on the importance of protecting our planet and the environment. Across the South London Waste Partnership boroughs of Croydon, Kingston, Merton, and Sutton, Veolia supports schools with the Recycling Rockstars education package, which can be discovered at www.veolia.co.uk/schools
It is initiatives such as this one that are fuelled by Veolia’s purpose to deliver ecological transformation, not just looking at one issue that urban school children are facing, but looking for ways to tackle many environmental problems with innovative solutions.
Pascal Hauret, Managing Director, Municipal at Veolia said:
“The extraordinary response to the Veolia Orchard campaign highlights how important trees are, not just for the environment but for the positive impact they have on the education and wellbeing of school children in our local communities. We’re delighted to be partnering with Groundwork and all the teams look forward to helping this national network of orchards take root.”
Joe McIndoe, UK Partnerships Manager, Groundwork said:
“With the numbers of orchards in the UK in steep decline, we’re delighted to work alongside Veolia to provide free trees to primary schools and begin building this network of orchards across the country. The trees provide many benefits: fruit so that children can have the pleasure of picking and eating juicy, fresh food, shade in the summer and the tools for pupils to learn about nature guided by a handy booklet developed by Groundwork’s landscaping experts. We can’t wait to see the kids planting their trees.”
Sam Sensesligil, Teacher of Food and Nutrition at Harris Academy Purley, Croydon said:
“The difference that this orchard will make to our students’ awareness of food provenance and seasonality will be felt for years to come. We would like to thank Veolia for our orchard trees and we are looking forward to a fruitful future.”
Michelle du Toit, Director of Acorn to Oak Nursery and Preschool, Kingston said:
“We pride ourselves with the amount of space we offer the children which gives them lots of knowledge of different plants and, more specifically, trees. We became Tree Wardens through The Tree Council earlier this year, so being able to accept the fruit trees from Veolia Orchard was fantastic for the children to see. We’ll be able to utilise them for different learning opportunities throughout the coming years – we are very grateful!”
Miss Harrison, Environment Lead at Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, Merton said:
“Our children are passionate about the environment and thanks to the Veolia Orchard project we have been able to transform a disused patch of land. We’re very excited at the prospect of watching our trees grow and bear fruit”.
Laura Dempsey, Eco Lead at Rushy Meadow Primary Academy, Sutton said:
“The children loved planting the trees, for many they had never planted before. The local borough was thrilled with the tree planting as it was an unused space where we planted them.”