Over 300 trees have been planted at St Mary’s Church, in Greenham, Newbury, as part of a project to redevelop the churchyard for the community.
The 300 trees, all native species, including fruit trees and more hardy trees, were obtained from the Woodland Trust as part of a free tree planting scheme. The congregation, local community, and the Greener Greenham Group, gathered together to plant the trees, with permission from West Berkshire Council, over two days in March 2022.
200 of the trees were planted in a new peace garden area of the churchyard, the Paddock, which is partly wooded and partly open. The remaining 100 trees form part of the hedgerow between the church and an adjacent small new housing development, St Mary’s Gate. New flowers and bulbs were also planted, and the space is maintained by a team of dedicated volunteers.
The Revd David McLeod, Vicar of St Mary’s Church, shares more about the aim of the tree planting project:
“As a church, we have been engaging with the community to develop the churchyard to be a space for people from both the church and community to use and enjoy. The aim is to create a place where the community can engage with wildlife and nature locally, on their doorstep.
“The focus is on sharing the space we inhabit, at the church, with others so that local people feel that this is their space too. It is just one of the ways we can demonstrate God’s love and our love for our neighbours.
“We want people to know about the God who loves and cares for them. We also wanted to offer a space where they can find peace and connect with God, that isn’t necessarily in the church building, as we recognise that doesn’t work for everyone.”
The church has also added a miniature railway through the churchyard for local families to enjoy and is planning a nativity using the railway in 2023. This was built by the local Railway club and is used during activity days at the church throughout the year.
There are plans to continue planting more trees in the future, after the success of the planting. It forms part of St Mary’s approach to caring for the environment:
“We’re caring for the world that God has given to us and being good stewards of his creation. We are working on an environmental strategy to improve our sustainability, as a church, and we recently became a hub for recycling in the community.”
Caring for creation
Our new Environment Resource pack for parishes includes a dedicated churchyard nature hunt download for families and young people to use in their local churchyard.
Find out more about planting trees from the Woodland Trust.