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Adopt a tree day: Pupils from a local primary school in Edinburgh learn the benefits of planting trees

Publication: C&B News

A group of primary school children preparing to plant trees
“Shona Harrower with The Castlelaw Cubs pack, adopting the H1 fruit tree in Campbell Park Orchard on 13 June. Photo by Shona Harrower| Licensed for use on Scottish Beacon | All rights reserved

Is it a plum, or is it an apple tree? We’re not too sure yet, but it’s one of two trees adopted by Bonaly Primary School kids from classes P5A and P5B. There were 66 children plus four teachers and parent helpers who came along to our “Adopt a Tree” volunteer carers day on 25 May.

They underplanted both fruit trees (one apple and one plum—we hope) with linseeds which, if they grow, should produce lovely tall blue or yellow flowers. After flowering, the edible nutty-tasting seeds can be added to breakfast cereals or used as thickeners for soups and strews. The oil is considered a superfood. It aids digestion and is high in Vitamin E, which is good for the skin. Raw and boiled linseed oil is still a popular wood preservative, and of course, the flexible waterproof linseed putty was traditionally used to seal glass into wooden window frames.

A group of children and adults at a park
“Bonaly Primary Adopt a Tree Day. Photo by Shona Harrower | Licensed for use on Scottish Beacon | All rights reserved

The fibres inside the linseed stem can be turned into thread for making linen, but it is quite a convoluted process. However, linseed grows easily in the UK, whereas cotton does not. For every litre of water needed to grow linseed, I’m told, it takes 1,000 litres to grow the equivalent amount of cotton.

Perhaps next year, we’ll be able to bring the children back to have a go at retting, breaking, scutching, heckling, and spinning the linen fibres to make our own linen twine?

For now, all we’re asking is that the children remember to bring an extra bottle of water with them whenever they visit the park—one for them and one for their seedlings.

Fingers crossed, they’ll germinate soon. If not, we’ll need to try again with a fresh batch. It’s possible the linseed from my kitchen cupboard was past its best “grow by” date!