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24 Years of Planting

24 Years of Planting

After 24 years as a Trees for Survival Facilitator – Gail Allende has reluctantly said farewell. Gail has kindly shared some of her stories and recollected how things have changed in TfS over the years:

‘Way back at the beginning of 2000 having just completed a diploma in landscape design, a friend suggested I call the team leader for Auckland’s Trees for Survival programme. It all sounded like my kind of thing so I joined up with this small team of people attached to Auckland Council but who worked solely with the Trees for Survival program alongside the TfS Trust.

Gosh how it has changed from those days. My first planting day I was shown what to do and then left to it -  not that I was worried, it all went very well. Now we have forms to fill and videos and endless emails before we go planting.

The role has expanded since those days. I now have 20 schools in the west and north-west. They are mostly well ‘trained’ and know the ropes. I have known some teachers for many years while others come and go. I much admire the dedication many of them have for TfS.

It is this passion for what we do that makes it so interesting, exciting and inspiring. Over the years I have met many lovely students who have never been on a farm before planting day. The experience of getting dirty, finding worms, digging holes, meeting farm animals and being in wide open spaces is so important for their well-being. This experience is so valuable and should never be underestimated.

There are many very special people I have met over the years and some I now consider friends. It is these relationships that make the programme so special for myself and for all those involved. We encourage schools to return to properties. They get to know landowners and have a sense of ownership of the plantings. It becomes their place.

The longest stint I did on one block of land was 18 years. We planted all the gullies with a stream at the base. We were able to walk past the very first plantings and see the progress over time. That was my first planting a west facing clay bank. It is now a forest.

Some of our landowners have been in the TfS programme for quite a few years and have ongoing projects planting vast areas of their properties.

There are too many people to name and thank. Without you I would never have had the opportunity to be part of this wonderful programme. Every planting day is a special day with special people.

I feel that it is time after 24 seasons and I am not getting any younger. I may still stay connected in some way though. But I won’t be out planting or visiting schools. It is not an easy decision because I love TfS and believe it is so valuable not just because of the positive impact it has on the environment but also because it is a positive action one can take to offset global emissions and global warming.

Young people need to feel they can make a difference….and they do.

Keep up the wonderful work all of you. Gail’


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