Trees: From Seed to Sawdust - Episode 19 - Community Engagement and Wellness in Woodlands with the Acorn Project

The Acorn Project is a community engagement project in Kilkenny which aims to build connection with nature through developing workshops that get people out into the woodlands, saving seeds, planting seeds and growing native trees.
We all love nature but sometimes we don't consider just how much we are damaging it through our food and economic systems.  In this programme Maura Brennan who runs the Acorn Project in Kilkenny is trying to repair this contradiction by running workshops that engage communities to care for and grow trees in their locality.

Through funding from the Woodland Support Project, the Acorn Project has collaborated with Irish Seed Savers who are running workshops to train community seed savers in how to extract seeds and get them to germinate; the seeds having been already collected in their locality during the autumn.  These seeds will then be planted in tree nurseries - wooden boxes - in parks or green areas, until the saplings grow to about two years old when they will then be planted out into areas designated by the community.  Jeremy Turkington is Orchard Manager at Seedsavers who takes the groups through the processes in stratifying the seeds.

Monica meets Maura in the Millenium Park, Freshford where an Acorn Box containing young saplings are growing in beautiful leaf mould compost.  Using leaf mould to grow trees makes complete sense to workshop facilitator Donal O'Leary who runs Waste Down.  Waste Down provides training in composting and they also sell compost too.  He came to Durrow last autumn to train the tidy towns committee on how to compost leaf mould in their locality.  It's always best to leave the leaves on the ground for wildlife but, if you're removing leaves from drains or to make car-parking space, then putting them in a heap afterwards to compost in a great way of getting the best use out of them. 

The Acorn Project runs forest school for children to get them out in the woods playing and learning about trees and the uses of trees. This according to Maura, will benefit them by cultivating a deeper connection to nature as they grow up into adults.  An exciting new project which has just begun is called Waking the Seeds and involves 20 women who are exploring their connections to the woods through art.  The workshop is a  co-facilitation between Maura and Kilkenny based artist Rachel Burke.

Restoring our forests acorn by acorn is the motto for Maura who believes that little things can achieve a lot.

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