TreeProject - From the Ground Up

Learn how the TreeProject's network of trained volunteers have grown 2 million indigenous seedlings for rural landholders and Landcare groups across the region.

Audio described version

[Birdsong and gentle acoustic guitar music accompany scenes of a woman handling seedlings at a plant nursery.]

Susi Millton: TreeProject started in 1989, when two women stood up and said we need to change our environment.

[View of an outdoor banner with the TreeProject logo, with wording "Volunteers growing seedling sin the city, to plant in the country."]
[On-screen text: Susi Millton – TreeProject, Manager]

Susi: Their first planting day, they sent the message out to friends, to strangers, to colleagues and they got 700 people. They planted 5,000 trees just before lunch, and they said we’re on an amazing thing here, people are interested in revegetation. And 15 years later they’d planted a million trees.

[Shot of groups of people planting trees, and views of rows of seedlings in boxes]

Susi: TreeProject began with people growing trees in their backyards and it hasn’t really changed. We’re growing 140,000 indigenous seedlings this year and we have currently 400 volunteer growers coming from all walks of life. And people in the city can just grow in their own backyards. They get a sense of hope, they get a sense of doing something for the environment and doing something for the regions, even though they live in the city.

[View of skyscrapers cuts to a scene of a man in front of a weatherboard house, with polystyrene boxes of seedlings]
[On-screen text: John Pinnager – TreeProject, Volunteer Grower)

John Pinnager: I love going out in the country, but for whatever reasons I probably wouldn’t live there, right? But I want to see the countryside as it should be, you know, treed with natives and birds and so on.

[A parrot picks at gumnuts in a tree]

John: A friend mentioned to me what they were doing and I sort of thought, this isn’t too difficult, I’ll give it a go. And so I did. So a couple of years ago I lined up to get a set of boxes of seeds and put them in, and they all grew really well. It’s a relatively simple thing that anyone can do.

[John waters his boxes of seedlings with a watering can]

John: You get a growing kit and you get all the pots and you get the seeds. So I have to fill the pots, plant all the seeds and just keep them watered. Really that’s all there is to it. It’s fabulous when you see them pop out of the ground. It really is, yeah. You think, wow, this is good. And there is backup, so if you don’t get everything to grow, TreeProject have a few extras so that there’ll always be enough.

[A woman transplants seedlings into individual tubes]
[On-screen text: Louise Harvey – TreeProject, Nursery Manager]

Louise Harvey: TreeProject Nursery is able to provide backup seedlings for growers who may be short on their order for a particular species. For example, this is Common Tussock Grass and what I’m doing is just transplanting it, and then I break them up into sections and replant them. And then instead of having 24, I’m gonna end up with nearly 100.

[Susi browses the nursery with a volunteer, with shots showing the diversity of seedling species.]

Louise: With TreeProject Nursery being able to germinate the winter species, it means that the landholders when they put their order in have a wider variety of species to choose from. For example, Dianella revoluta and Bursaria are two of the winter species that we propagate here in the nursery. When the landholders put their order in, we try to encourage them to order trees, tall shrubs, mid-storey, low. And by using native and indigenous plants, we’re increasing biodiversity and habitat.

[A bird perches on a blade of tall grass]

Louise: TreeProject has probably a million moving pieces, and the nursery provides backup for some of those pieces. And sometimes big things happen and we don’t know how we’re going to fix it, but it always works. It’s TreeProject magic.

[Susi and Louise examine seedlings in the nursery.]

Susi: One of the other things about TreeProject, it gives people the opportunity to experience things that they’ve never experienced before. I’ve seen people arrive on a planting day and they’ve never been to the country. Never seen a kangaroo in the wild before, ever. But after a planting day, they’re covered in dirt, their feet are muddy and they’ve had a really great day. And there’s that sense of pride – wow, we’ve really done something.

[Volunteers hammer plant stakes into the ground and plant seedlings]
[On-screen text: Felicity – Planting Volunteer]

Felicity Holt: I don’t get out of the city that much. I work in an office at a desk eight hours a day, so it’s nice to get out and get your hands dirty. I’m surprised how much we’ve done only in a couple of hours. In 100 years these are going to be bushes and forests so it’s nice to know that we’ve contributed to that. Someone else did one part of it, we’re here to put them in the ground and then someone’s going to look after them for the next couple of years. It’s interesting that there’s a cycle and we’re all in it together, we’re all aiming towards the one thing. It’s pretty special.

[Susi and Louise work in the nursery, while a train runs past in the background]

Susi: There’s still so much to do in our environment and we want to give people a sense of hope, a sense that they can do something for our environment, even if they live in the city. In 10 years’ time, we want to have an order of a million trees. We want to keep going, we want to keep revegetating this land and make a big difference, one seedling at a time.

[Close up of someone handling seedlings. The sleeve of their T-shirt reads, "Sowing the seeds for a sustainable future"]

[Melbourne Water logo]
[On-screen text:]
[Victoria State Government logo and Victorian Landcare Program logos]

[End of transcript]