Tiny Rainforest

1 Goodgymer helped their local community in Ealing
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Thursday 22nd February

Report written by Kash

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It was my fourth encounter with a Tiny Forest and my second Tiny Forest planting event after Paul, the Area Activator of Barnet, invited me to planting the Finchley Tiny Forest two years ago. That was the muddiest task I have ever done that left me with a vivid memory of people having fun while falling helplessly into the mud or getting stuck, having their feet devoured by muddy monsters. The Barnet event was wild, so I was sure the Southall planting wouldn't disappoint me. I took an afternoon off from work and ventured into the heavy rain continuously hanging over Ealing that day.

The first sight that greeted me at the Southall Recreation Ground was the best I could ask for - and I don't mean pull-up bars. I mean friends! Although I haven't convinced any other GoodGymers to forgo all their daily responsibilities to sink in the mud, I found Mani from Southall Transition and Matwinder, the boss at Bixley Field Allotments, under the tiny tent where everyone hid from the downpour. Other people I met under the shelter were mainly from Earthwatch, the organisation behind the Tiny Forest. I was introduced to Hannah, who facilitated today's event.

The rain didn't seem to go away and more volunteers didn't seem to be coming, so we picked up tiny spades and tiny trees and entered the arena of clay soil! Reinforcements arrived soon - a group of volunteers in red waterproof capes. We had 600 trees to plant, so that was the turning point of the event. I secured 40 of the trees, so I can proudly say that:

Over 6% of the Southall Tiny Forest was planted by GoodGym!

Let's see if we can beat that tomorrow in Acton!

Despite the heavy rain, the muddiness didn't fully reach my Barnet 2022 experience, but it was close. Me and other volunteers were covered with intricate patches of mud and the shoes were totally caked in clay too.

When all 600 trees were stuck into the soil, the time for the mulch came. A mound of locally sourced woodchip, matured for more than three months, awaited. Were we supposed to transport all that into the tennis court-sized area? Spoiler alert: yes!

Since I've been injured and not able to run, I was after a workout that would make me feel alive. That was it! Here I was, at the top of a mulch mound, with other gladiators with shovels, our last stand, fighting our way to the bottom, filling endless buckets with woodchip. When one bucket disappeared, another one materialised. Or another two. Or three. Claire, the research scientist of Earthwatch, a real machine, was relentlessly swapping the full buckets with empty ones and cheering us.

Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!

Minute after minute. Bucket after bucket. How could I stop? It was hard work, but I agreed with Claire - this was our definition of fun! When at some point, I saw four empty buckets surrounding me, a thought crossed my mind: maybe people carrying the buckets will tire earlier and drop off? There was no sky and no earth, there was just...

Mulch! Mulch! Mulch!

By my side, Lovely from Shah Satnam Ji Greens Welfare Force Wing UK was what I was to GoodGym today - that one representative to show we can do hard work. And we did!

A miracle happened. I didn't know his name - a nice Punjabi gentleman came to treat the volunteers to hot tea with milk and spices. I looked around, and I saw that the red capes were gone. But that was fine. The hot brew worked like Getafix's Magic Potion. After a tiny tea break, we returned to work and made our way to the grass under the woodchip.

When we finished, the warm samosas brought by Mani were gone. Mani offered to buy me some but I said I would save the treat for Sunday's Bixley Field Allotments session when we meet Mani and Matwinder again. Matwinder was our best cheerleader! Someone pointed out she didn't look too muddy today. Her wheelchair was not off-road ready, so she supported us by cheering instead.

I stayed with Earthwatch till 3 pm and I made it to the group photo to flash my red t-shirt. GoodGym is not done with the Tiny Forest and after a well-deserved rest, will be back tomorrow - at Trinity Way.

Session Leader
Area activator
This task supported

Tiny Forest is a dense fast-growing native woodland of 600 trees planted densely in a tennis-court size plot, maximising benefits per m2 of land. The proponents, Earthwatch, engage with local communities to plant, maintain and monitor their forest over time. The forests reconnect people with nature and raise awareness of climate change.

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Leafletting for Reduce and Recycle Hub for Acton Market
🗓Today 6:30pm

It will promote the hub and as a result will increase recycling and reduce waste in the area

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Discuss this report
Jack Da Silva

Tue 27th Feb at 11:38am

Amazing work Kash, a great read!