New Community Tree Nursery for Dorchester

A new Community Tree Nursery is being set up at the Community Farm in Poundbury by Transition Town Dorchester. It is early days and there is a big task to do just clearing the area for the nursery and stock beds! 

The long-term plan is to collect seeds of a finite number of native species of good local provenance that we want to encourage people to plant in the Dorchester area. We plan to raise the trees and shrubs from seed and/or cuttings at the nursery (or with foster parents) until they are ready for planting in their final destination. It might take 3-5 years to reach a time when the first trees raised locally are ready to plant out.

In the meantime, we are thinking of buying in some young stock of native trees and shrubs that would be good for pollinators in gardens around the town eg. Crab Apple, Cherry Plum, Rowan and Field Maple. We would grow these on for a few more years and then offer them to residents (with suitable gardens) around the town, possibly in return for a small domination. As well as helping pollinators in Dorchester, this initial activity might help to raise the profile of the Community Tree Nursery around the town.

Kingston Maurward College has offered space at their Lower Nursery site for a second Community Tree Nursery to be run by Trees for Dorset. This site should be easier to clear as it has been used as stock beds in the last couple of years and we might well be able to encourage students to help in the nursery as part of their studies. 

The current plan is to have set ‘volunteer working days’ at each nursery, plus ad hoc visits when particular tasks need to be done. We have just started working at the Community Farm weekly on Wednesday mornings and plan to work at Kingston Maurward College on alternate Tuesday afternoons. 

We would love you to get involved in setting up and running these Community Tree Nurseries – there is plenty to do! We have not made a full list of the volunteer roles and tasks yet but they are likely to include:

  • Site clearance and ongoing maintenance of stock beds, paths, fences etc – the most physical of the tasks!
  • Seed collection – seasonal, outdoors 
  • Seed preparation and taking cuttings – skilled work, can be messy, patience needed!
  • Planting out and/or potting on seedlings/cuttings – can be a bit monotonous but fun in a group
  • Weeding pots and stock beds – physical work
  • Preparing trees for distribution to final recipients – requires coordination, working to a timetable/schedule, physical work
  • Promotion of the Community Tree Nurseries – in the press, social media, at local events etc
  • Administration – organisation of volunteer work days, nursery schedules and timetables, finance (hopefully!)
  • Running a foster tree nursery scheme (where people look after trees and shrubs that are not accommodated at the nursery) – offering help and advice, coordination of ‘foster parents’.

Please get in touch if you are interested in helping with any particular aspect of the Community Tree Nurseries eg. the physical work on clearing and maintaining the nursery sites, seed collection and preparation, or running a foster tree nursery scheme.

For more information, please see: https://dorchestertrees.org.uk/index.php/community-tree-nurseries/

Guest article by Richard Bradford, volunteer with Transition Town Dorchester, which first appeared in the Trees for Dorset Newsletter in October 2021