9 August 2021

National Tree Day's call to shovels answered by students and businesses alike

| Lottie Twyford
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Canberra Toyota team with a student from Cranleigh

The Canberra Toyota team provided gloves and hats for the day and a helping hand. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

What could be motivating a group of excited Cranleigh School Students to get out and about in nature, get their hands dirty and get some plants into the ground?

National Tree Day, of course!

National Tree Day has been held annually since 1996, and it’s now Australia’s largest community tree-planting and nature care event.

At Cranleigh School in Holt, a specialist school for children with intellectual disabilities, keen gardeners with green thumbs are invited to join the weekly gardening club where they learn all things planting and compost related. They even have chickens whose eggs the kids collect.

They’ve also been working on their own Indigenous garden to learn about native Australian plants.

Student and staff planting a tree

Everybody got involved and let their green thumbs do the work. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The holes for the trees had already been dug by the gardening club a few days prior, and so all that was needed on Friday, 30 July, was a bit of teamwork to get the shrubs in the ground, as well as a good bit of watering, which a couple of the students were thrilled to get involved with.

Cranleigh school classroom teacher Jenny Woodham said she is a big believer in all children getting out and into nature, but it’s especially important for Cranleigh students.

“I firmly believe that it’s only by kids experiencing nature that they love it, and if they love it, they want to be out there and caring for it,” she said.

READ ALSO The secret life of Canberra’s urban foragers

Given that it’s the next generation tasked with caring for the planet, it’s no surprise that schools are often the most enthusiastic about National Tree Day.

Each year, more than 3000 pre-schools, kindergartens, primary and high schools across Australia heed the ‘call to shovels’ and get digging.

A planted tree and proud gardeners

At the end of the ceremony, students and staff posed together around one of their brand new trees. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The Cranleigh School kids were well supported by the team from Toyota Australia, which has been supporting National Tree Day since 2000. Around 26 million trees have been planted at National Tree Day events.

“As a company and a business, we are heavily involved with the community in a number of ways, and we do think we have a social responsibility for the future that we want to see,” said Canberra Toyota HR & Guest Experience Manager Jo Rogers.

“We have to be doing something for the environment now, and it all flows into a larger commitment which we are making as we move towards hybrid and electric vehicles,” Jo said.

student and staff member at tree planting day

Abigail was one of the keen Cranleigh student helpers. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The partnership between Cranleigh and Canberra Toyota was meant to start last year but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

Jo says they were all delighted to go back to the school and offer the opportunity for a second time.

Canberra Toyota provided the funds to the school to purchase plants, trees and shrubs for the garden, and several of the team also attended the tree planting day and gave a hand. The children were also provided with special bucket hats which went down a treat and gloves, which were largely thrown aside so hands could get down and dirty instead.

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