From weedy shallows to flourishing creek

Mary Barton became a grower for the Tree Scheme after the words ‘environmental volunteering’ sparked something in her. “It clicked for me straight away,” she says. “Although I live in an urban area, it gave me a way to contribute to revegetation.”

It’s volunteers like Mary who help landholders restore their land with native seedlings grown from locally sourced seed. In the Tree Scheme, TFL’s longest-running program, volunteer growers are matched up with either a landholder or a revegetation project.

Mary says she has grown thousands of seedlings in her time as a volunteer. Starting off with six boxes per season, she soon extended to growing eight boxes, with some left over. “I usually end up with a couple of extra boxes from the seedlings I thin out. It’s very hard to throw away the extra seedlings that germinate, but so important just to have one strong, healthy seedling per tube.”

In the past, Mary has grown native seedlings for two landholders in Teringie and Jamestown. Sue Vardon in Teringie has been a TFL member for four years and sought help from Tree Scheme to grow ‘zone appropriate’ seedlings for her 8.5-acre Teringie property.

“I bought the property, which was covered in weeds and weed trees, with a view to restoring it,” says Sue.

“The frontage, which is quite substantial, incorporates a section of Third Creek. It was impenetrable due to blackberries, ash, willow and other weeds. I had the area sprayed for three years, then a friend and I cleared the land to free up the creek. With Mary’s help as a volunteer grower I’ve planted more than 1,000 seedlings, and many of them have grown well.”

These days, Mary loves watching how her work transforms formerly overgrown or unrestored land. “Filling the tubes is the worst bit!” she says. “But the pleasure in seeing the seedlings emerge and grow, and the appreciation of the landholders, is a great reward.”

“I enjoy it when I can deliver the plants to landholders and see the progress they have made over the years.”

Find out how the Tree Scheme unites landholders with volunteer growers