04/09/2020 (Volunteer Post )
For our green-fingered readers, you will know that early autumn is the best time to get out to the garden. Early spring flowers, hardier veggies, and many trees are best planted in these first weeks of September, even if the weather seems not to inspire it!
For those not green-fingered among us (note: I use ‘us’ as I very much include myself in this category!) you may want to chat with the knowledgeable volunteers of Eadha Enterprises. They participate in year-round volunteering projects at the organisation’s nursery and out in the community.
Eadha Enterprises is a social enterprise that specialise in utilising aspen (eadha is the old gaelic word for aspen) and other rare tree species to “apply nature-based solutions in our projects to address environmental issues and to maximize sustainability and long term benefits.” Volunteers are involved in a variety of projects and, as we will see with this week’s volunteer Bob, are often involved in several environmental efforts.
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ER: How long have you been a volunteer and what is your role?
B: More than 15 years in environmental roles I guess you’d call it. I’ve grown and planted dozens of trees, organised and helped to clear forests, of rubbish, close to where I live and recently planted trees with Eadha. Over the last 10-12 years I’ve been doing beach cleaning as part of a group, picking up plastic and rubbish. At the moment I’m in the process of creating a charity to enable to run a competition to attract universities to build/create a robot that can pick up plastic in the landscape, beaches and the side of motorways and so on. I plan to open source the hardware, so to enable anybody to build one.
ER: Can you give a brief summary of how you got involved with the organisation/project?
B: I got involved with beach cleaning some years ago, through a friend, who asked me to come along and help. I registered on a site and get alerts for beach cleans in Central Scotland. I met Peter [Livingstone of Eadha Enterprises] as I was doing his IT for Eadha Enterprises and offered to volunteer with him, to help plant trees.
ER: What challenges, if any, did you face when you began volunteering?
B: Sometimes it was physically difficult, hard to do. Other times the places you volunteer at, are quite far away, and takes time and money to get there and there is no expenses. Getting the time set aside at particular time was initially quite hard.
ER: What have you learnt from your time as a volunteer?
B: Mostly that there is so much still to do. For the beach cleaning, at the beginning of the season, we pulled out more and more plastic. No end to it. It was very disheartening.
ER: What has been the best experience during your volunteering?
B: Knowing now, which I didn’t know even 2 years ago, that climate change may actually be solvable. Generally the people your collaborating with, are very decent folk and that for me, is best of times.
ER: What is one thing that has surprised you about your volunteering?
B: The number of folk that turn up, often the middle of nowhere, in a cold March morning, to clean a beach for example. I’ve seen 60-80 folk turning up. It’s is the idea that folk really care; that climate change may not be a foregone conclusion. It is heart-warming.
ER: What’s one piece of advice you would give someone who is new to volunteering?
B: This is a difficult one. Keep at it, try and be consistent as we are in for the long term.
ER: Describe your volunteering experience in three words:
B: Exasperating, demanding, rewarding
Eadha Enterprises have been active throughout COVID-19, but with greater volunteer involvement since lockdown restrictions eased. Peter Livingstone added that they see their planting projects “as a form of “tree therapy” during these challenging times. We are finding people are desperate to get out and get engaged in fulfilling and positive activities, especially just after lockdown, and tree planting provides this in a safe way.”
If you would like to learn more about Eadha Enterprises’s work and volunteering opportunties just head to the website here: http://www.eadha.co.uk/