13 Sept 2022 | On Saturday, Landcare Tasmania partnered with Lifeline, Hobart Arbor Co and Branch Out for a day of tree planting and mental health awareness at the Bridgewater foreshore.
This event highlighted the importance of community and nature in healing- whether that comes from grieving a loss, or overcoming mental health struggles. This event aligned with World Suicide Prevention Day, which is the 10th of September 2022.
Branch Out was created by Christina Medhurst, after she volunteered at a tree planting day with Landcare Tasmania in 2020. Beginning her own healing journey, she wanted to create an organisation which would enable others to do the same. This event launched her group. Taking the first step can seem impossible, but getting outside, planting a new tree, and watching it grow is a great way to get started- and to symbolise the new growth within yourself.
We started our day with an acknowledgement/thank you to Country. This was followed by an acknowledgment of lived experience, and a welcome from Christina. Then, we began our grounding activity. It may sound strange to smell soil, but this activity was based on science- have you ever wondered why you love the smell of soil when it rains? The bacterium found in soil can cause your brain to produce serotonin- the “happy” chemical.
Then, we got into our tree planting. It is estimated that for each suicide, 135 people are impacted in some way. To symbolise this, we planted 135 trees which were provided by the Understory Network, with beautiful mulch provided by Hobart Arbor Co. We planted our understory plants under Blue Gums, which will help to reduce erosion and improve habitat. This site is also home to the ‘mother’ prickly box, which has been growing there since well before the 1930's. Prickly Box is important to many ecosystems, but is notoriously difficult to germinate, and keeping it protected has been a key focus of a lot of our work in this area.
We then enjoyed a BBQ lunch with gorgeous salad greens picked on site by 24 Carrot Gardens.
“We are pleased to be able to work alongside Lifeline Tasmania to provide our local community with further connection to the land and the environment around them. It’s well documented that being in nature can have a positive impact on mood and well-being, and Landcare is eager to be involved in any event that will support, strengthen and grow our community,” said Landcare CEO Peter Stronach. Studies show that spending time in nature can reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and fear, and increase our positive emotions.
With the spring sun warming our backs and the dirt under our feet and our nails, we had a meaningful day giving back to nature, promoting new growth, and encouraging others in their healing journeys. Branch Out will be expanding their events in the future.
Thank you to those who attended, and to Hobart Arbor Co for generously helping to fund this event.
Images by M. Howard