Producer hopes new woodland will help mitigate flood risk from River Test as well as boosting biodiversity

Over 40 employees volunteered to help plant the trees

In total, over 40 employees volunteered to help plant the trees

Vitacress Salads has undertaken an extensive tree planting project to create a new woodland habitat on its St Mary Bourne site near Andover in Hampshire.

The project is part of the Woodland Trust’s MOREwoods scheme. It involves planting 800 native tree saplings in an unused field on Vitacress’ primary watercress and salad production site.

The move falls under the company’s wider commitment to its sustainability framework, Second Nature, to improve biodiversity and surface waters.

Twenty-five native species will be planted, including oak, birch, willow and hawthorn. The fruits and flowers of these trees will provide food to support native wildlife and pollinators, while the trees themselves will provide shelter and nesting opportunities.

The location of the new woodland, adjacent to the Bourne Rivulet, is also significant. The rivulet is a headwater of the River Test, which has been hit by increased flooding in recent years due to high groundwater levels and heavy rainfall. Vitacress hopes the new woodland will help mitigate future flood risk.

Andrew Eastwood, managing director at Vitacress Salads, said: “The benefits of native woods and trees are now well understood in the fight against climate change and at Vitacress Salads we are delighted to be part of the MOREwoods scheme. I’m extremely impressed by the number of colleagues who offered to help and their dedication to complete such a huge task.”

The tree planting took place over three days in mid-February 2024 with more than 40 staff from across the business volunteering to help in the sizeable project.

The saplings were planted in a random format to simulate a natural woodland with a variety of larger species like oaks and smaller shrub-like species such as hawthorn.

Once the woodland becomes established, Vitacress will install benches so staff can visit the area for mental wellbeing and education.