It all started in 2008 at the Kilbarrack Fire Station, where I was working at the time. I knew nothing about climate change. It was just a morale booster.
had the idea of collecting used batteries at the station instead of putting them in bins. Then we did a crowdfunding to invest in a thermodynamic solar collector for the station, the station saved him €45,000 in bills in a year, and the idea spread throughout the fire department. .
By 2016, the Dublin Fire Brigade had reduced its energy use by 44%.
It’s all been a process of educating myself about climate change, and I’ve come to focus on water quality and some of the current Greenway initiatives. Brought to Brussels and the House of Lords. I met former US President Barack Obama to talk about sharing ideas and skills. In 2016, he was an Irish Fellow of the Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative.
I don’t know how I keep this all going, but it’s really my heart and soul that Grown Forest was born. It’s like a gift.
Grown Forest was born out of Grown Clothing set to highlight the amount of plastic waste and particulates that end up in the ocean. We sell ethical and sustainable clothing that reflects our views. In a short period of time our small clothing brand gained a huge following and we realized we were onto something. I came up with the idea of planting trees for all the clothes we produce.
A few years ago on Black Friday, the online and Francis Street shops in Dublin closed down to encourage people to buy wood instead of things they really didn’t want or need. I suggested. 800 oak trees were purchased that day. People wanted to help plant trees, so Grown Forest was started.
For a few years we were planting trees in small plots all over Ireland, but it wasn’t ideal. I collect tree seeds, grow the seeds for up to four years, and then plant the trees in my home county.
We need to plant trees, but what we really have to do is restore the soil that has absorbed carbon. Grown Forest has a very vigorous native tree planting system and natural looking borders on the land.
The trees we plant are typical of the forest, such as oak, horse chestnut, hazel, yew and sequoia, but we completely surround them with whitethorns, blackthorns, etc. that provide food for the surrounding trees. . That’s what makes us so different.
Recently, we teamed up with Innocent Smoothies and Cosentino Tiles, both of which are planting trees through us. They are a very ambitious partnership, not “nod and wink”, not greenwashing, but real trees and real action.
He also turned a piece of land in Wicklow into a nature reserve and found a way for Mass on a land where people used to make pilgrimages in pre-Christian times. The nature reserve is his 10 year project and will be beautiful. Other plots are not as clean, but they do a good job of protecting the soil.
I think my passion for this goes back to my childhood in the 1980s. My grandfather, who lives in Coolok, came up with the idea of planting a tree for every family that migrated from our community. I think it’s amazing that the awareness of planting has sprouted from there and has continued so far.
For more information on Grown Forest, visit grownforest.ie. While you’re there, you can also gift a tree, with options starting at €30, the recipient will receive a beautiful Sally Caldwell print digitally as a card or made from reclaimed floorboards from an old Irish dance hall. It can be mounted on a frame with
Conversation with Sarah Cayden