Trees of Love plan green future with Tonbridge planting events

1887 The Pantiles
GROUND-BREAKING: Trees of Love volunteers plant whips at Longmead with founder Basil John, Mayor Pam Bates and the Tonbridge Police Cadets

Trees of Love have recruited volunteers, councillors, the Mayor of Tonbridge & Malling Pam Bates and local Police Cadets.

There have been three plantings since November, two at Tonbridge Farm sportsground at Longmead and one at Haysden Country Park.

The project was set up by Tonbridge resident Basil John and his friend Labu Bahuleyan.

The idea sprung from a charity food stall they set up at last summer’s Mela, the Indian-based festival in Calverley Grounds, Tunbridge Wells.

Mr John, a 39-year-old father of two who runs a logistics company, said: “The support from the community prompted us to plan more projects, both environmental and for charitable needs.”

The group contacted the council, who identify areas where planting would be most effective. Whips from a wide variety of species have been donated by The Woodland Trust.

‘They can look back in 15 to 20 years when they are fully grown and know they were part of it’

Mayor Pam Bates

“The support from the Mayor of Tonbridge was really amazing,” Mr John said. “She has personally participated and planted many trees to support young Police Cadets.

“We have planted around 300 whips at Longmead and 85 at Haysden.”

Cllr Bates planted 12 trees and said: “It was such a great morning organised by Trees of Love and I thoroughly enjoyed joining the Tonbridge Police Cadets in planting trees together.

“They can look back in 15 to 20 years when they are fully grown and know they were part of it.”

Now the group wants to encourage more young people to be involved. “Some of the schools are interested to hold tree planting or vegetable planting this year,” said Mr John.

“We have contacted some nurseries to support us so we can give back to schools.”

GRASS ROOTS: Mayor Pam Bates (left) gets stuck in with Cllr Georgina Thomas at Tonbridge Farm

Georgina Thomas, a councillor representing Trench ward, became involved along with Vivian Branson, the councillor for Castle ward.

“Without any excuses they accepted our invitation, though it was really worked out within short notice,” said Mr John.

“Georgina supported us by coordinating with Tonbridge police cadets. They and the rest of the team planted 150 in an hour at Longmead.”

Cllr Thomas told the Times: “Trees of Love aim to provide opportunities for residents and households to come together in unity.

“These trees will provide social, economic and environmental benefits and will help reduce pollution in our waterways and flooding, provide a future habitat for wildlife and most importantly provide oxygen whilst removing CO2 and pollutants from the air.

“We will continue to support these incredibly fulfilling community projects.”

Trees of Love has also been branching out into other projects. Last year they organised a free Christmas lunch for 18 people associated with a mental health organisation in Tunbridge Wells using their own money, including gifts.

They are seeking funding from businesses to keep these projects going, and help to set up new ventures such as -‘wellbeing walks’.

They also want to start a ‘green gym’, which gives people a way to enhance their fitness and health while taking action to improve the outdoor environment.

If you would like to join a tree planting event, visit Trees of Love on Facebook

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