This month, Birmingham Trees for Life were delighted to be part of the Forward Arts ‘Return to Nature’ Arts and Wellbeing Festival at Holders Lane Woods in Moseley – a woodland celebration of the natural world.

As the BTfL team arrived at this old woodland, the sunlight dappled through the beautiful canopy of trees and the birdsong was wonderful – a serene haven in the city. It was a gorgeous day and there was a wide range of eco-themed activities and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy and participate in: environmental arts, music, writing, craft, nature trails, story-telling, inspiring talks, delicious food and a wonderful community atmosphere. Hundreds of people visited the festival for the same simple thing – to explore what nature has to offer and enjoy the lovely woodland.

BTfL enjoyed chatting with children and adults alike about the importance of trees and tree planting, how we should all celebrate trees and the benefits they provide, especially in the urban environment. Among the activities was seed pot making – it wasn’t long before there were lots of children and grown-ups making small plant pots made from old newspaper, then planting each with an acorn. Some children wrote a message on the pot for their newly planted acorn, such as ‘Happy Birthday Acorn!’ While most people who planted an acorn were eager to take it home and grow it themselves, others left their pots for BTfL to nurture and watch over them as they grow in to little oak trees!

To celebrate the seed season further, there was a range of fruit and vegetables on the stall, to show where seeds came from, and the huge range of types – coffee, peppers, apricots, strawberries, and of course chocolate! Unsurprisingly the chocolate got a lot of interest! Simon Needle, one of BTFL’s Committee members and an Arboriculturalist and Ecologist, took people on a seed collecting walk around the woods.  He’s a mine of information, and it was a brilliant way of learning lots of wonderful facts about trees and seeds, and how important they are to us and to wildlife. Everyone was fascinated, with one of the group of listeners saying the talk ‘blew his mind’!

Back at the stall, BTfL had teamed up with Mandy Ross, a Community Arts Practitioner, poet and children’s author based in Birmingham, to help people celebrate their ideas and memories about trees. Mandy inspired each person to share their personal tree memory by writing it down on a leaf, which was then pegged on to the BTFL ‘Poe-tree’.

Mandy then built a wonderfully rhythmic poem, funny, heart-warming and poignant with many of the mini poets’ memories and personal stories about trees.  The ‘Poe-tree’ was then performed in front of an audience, who, from the cheers and the claps at the end really enjoyed it.

Thank you to @ForwardArts for organising a wonderful festival celebrating the natural world.