Pupils help prepare for pocket forest in school
Mr Donnellan’s 6th Class preparing the ground

Pupils help prepare for pocket forest in school

PUPILS from St Dominic’s National School in Tallaght upped their green credentials when they helped a team of volunteers to prepare the soil for the development of a pocket forest in the school grounds on Tuesday morning.

St Dominic’s is the fifth school that has benefited from Tallaght Community Council’s (TCC) Stepping Stones for Schools initiative, which is sponsored by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google.

The schools which have already completed the soil preparation process in advance of tree planting next year are Sacred Heart Junior and Senior national schools in Killinarden, Kingswood Community College, and St Kevin’s Boys’ School in Kilnamanagh.

The stepping stone forests are densely-packed, fast-growing forests that are populated with native trees, and this week’s soil preparation consisted of laying out thousands of old copies of The Echo in the soil, which were then covered by a thick layer of woodchip mulch.

John Kiberd, one of the stepping stone forest volunteers and a member of the Litter Mugs, told The Echo about how the soil preparations went in St Dominic’s on Tuesday.

“It was fantastic, and all of the kids had a ball throwing around the woodchip mulch,” he said.

“We had these kids scurrying around with buckets of woodchip and turfing it into the mulch.”

Sallyanne, Waladek, Clare, John K, John S and Oscar, Margaret, Niall and Patrick

The volunteers had previously given a talk to the children about the environment about the impact of the stepping stone forest, and the children were excited to put into action the things they’d learned.

“It was a really heartwarming thing,” said Mr Kiberd. “Children from seven up to people in their early 70s, were involved in the process.

“These children are the future, and if they can get an appreciation for the process of preparing the soil and planting the trees, then they will grow up along with these forests and mature with them.”

The trees, which will be planted next year, will be in a horseshoe formation so it can create an “interior environment” for the children while they’re still outdoors.

“We want to create an environment where they can go outdoors and commune with nature,” added Mr Kiberd.

The volunteers are looking forward to returning to the school in the new year to commence the planting of the trees, with their little helpers from the school in tow.

Amazon Staff helping in St Dominic’s on Tuesday

TCC’s initiative will be brought to three more local schools before the end of the year, with tree planting commencing at all of the schools next year.

Liz Kennedy, Chairperson of TCC said they were delighted with the project: “Tallaght Community Council are delighted with this wonderful project and would like to thank all the volunteers and schools for their great work and we look forward to the planting phase in early 2022.”

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