Acorn Seed Saving Day
We partnered with Devon based Moor Trees to invite people to a Walking Forest Day in autumnal woods to learn practical skills in seed collecting; explore what we’d stand up for today; and draw attention to Earth protectors across the world and acknowledge the work of Suffragettes and the seeds of change they planted.
Joining in on a Moor Trees Volunteer Acorn Seed Collecting day, we added participatory activities that could bring Moor Trees volunteers and Walking Forest participants together. Director, Adam Owen introduced Moor Trees’ vision to rewild Dartmoor National Park. Each year they gather in late Autumn to collect hundreds of broadleaf tree seeds which they germinate and nurture in their nursery before replanting to create semi-wild woodland.
Connecting the simple act of gathering seeds that day, we spoke to the group about Rose Lamartine Yates’ 100 year old magnificent Batheaston Pine from which Walking Forest has gathered – and gifted – many seeds.
We learnt where to look for the acorns and how to establish which were in the best condition to be fertile and ready to germinate. After being shown a, just about to ‘sprout’ acorn, we spread out under the canopy of the ancient oak forest and the group’s concentrated focus became contagious. Acorns were ferreted away in pockets and baskets, some rejected by our acorn mentors, others accepted. Attention to such small things under the very branches of the ancestor fully-grown trees began to weave its own story.
Photo Credit Adam Owen
We spoke about seeds as a positive tiny portable and long-lasting living thing that is waiting to produce huge wonderful awe-inspiring plants and as seeds a connecting factor across cultures and imagination. People were invited in pairs to share a memory or story about a relationship with a tree they have had a point in their lives; to spend time alone meeting a tree in gratitude and contemplate what trees can teach us about the passage of time. People shared responses as we sat under a huge oak tree for lunch.
Photo Credit Adam Owen
The lull allowed us to introduce the story of Walking Forest and the inspiration for the project more fully. We invited people to share information and knowledge about women around the world risking their lives to protect the natural environment today. People talked in pairs about what they would stand up for today themselves and we concluded lunch with a wider group conversation.
Seed saving continued as we moved through this oak woodland.
In the afternoon we gathered around an open clearing in the woods to gift envelopes containing pine seeds of the Suffragette ‘Mother Tree’ for people to take home. We made drawings of our seeds, and received a fact sheet about how to germinate and care for the pine seed. We invited people to place a note inside their seed packet in answer to the provocations: ‘What do you hope will germinate in your life in the coming months? and What do you need to nourish in yourself in order to stand up for what you believe in?’
We finished the day with the satisfaction of pooling our acorns to be taken to Moor Trees Nursery for germination.
Anne-Marie Culhane and Shelley Castle have both visited the oak saplings from that day in Moor Trees Nursery, and together with the two Suffragette Tree saplings Shelley is also caring for six of them.