Trees bring hope to grieving families and the environment.
Almost eighteen years ago a taxi ride proved the catalyst in the development of a unique partnership that has helped both grieving families and the environment.
A conversation between Tim Lawrence, the taxi driver, and his passenger Joe O’Dea Jnr of Bowra and O’Dea Funeral Directors, led to a Memorial Grove program that provides a living and lasting memorial for those who have lost a loved one.
Tim is a life member of Men of the Trees WA Inc (MOTT) a past President. MOTT is a volunteer tree planting organisation that grows & plants approximately 500,000 trees each year in Western Australia. It is a community based environmental organisation committed to the revegetation of degraded land, particularly those areas affected by salinity, through the planting of native species.
Joe’s concern for bereaved families and both men’s passion for the environment fuelled their vision to set up the Bowra and O’Dea Memorial Groves to assist in both the healing of hundreds of grieving families and land in the Wheatbelt as well as other locations around Perth and its hinterland.
Men of the Trees coordinates the site selection and the provision and planting of the native seedlings. Bereaved families select a tree within a newly planted grove which they can visit at any time. A certificate is also provided in recognition of the planting on behalf of their deceased family member.
The plantings aim to symbolise re-birth and the cycle of life and provide a peaceful reflective space for families to visit.
The Bowra and O’Dea Memorial Groves program is now in its 15th year of operation. Bowra & O’Dea has generously donated more than $500,000 resulting in more than two million trees planted.
In addition to the establishment and management of the Memorial Grove sites this sponsorship has supported the Million Trees Program to develop educational programs and activities. These educational programs have in turn resulted in tens of thousands of trees planted each year.
The Memorial Groves at Beckenham are a result of a collaboration between MOTT, Bowra and O’Dea, the Western Australian Planning Commission and South East Centre for Urban Landcare (SERCUL).
1996/97 Irish Town
Irish Town Memorial Grove was the first Bowra and O’Dea Grove planted in Western Australia. Only a few kilometres out of Toodyay, the Grove was planted with 4000 endemic species on a property belonging to a farmer that needed revegetation and regeneration. The grove has been maintained both by Men Of The Trees and by farmer over the years and is now a veritable forest of green.
Nambling Memorial Grove was opened in 1998 as a revegetation and regeneration project on a seriously salt affected area outside of Dowerin. This planting was possibly the most difficult due to a severe salt scald nearby and the degraded state of the soil. Although the success rate was low, several replantings and infills were completed over the two years to follow and the Grove is now a beautiful Grove, frequently visited and tended by relatives.
The Fairbridge Memorial Grove was opened in 1998 on the site of the Fairbridge Eco Farm near Pinjarra, which was to be the largest example of sustainable farming and Eco-Village living in Western Australia – it remains a great example of sustainable living ethics and as such supports the concept of living and ecologically sound Memorials. The Memorial Grove is tended by Peel branch of MOTT regularly.
Kulyaling lies halfway between Brookton and Pingelly on the Great Southern Highway. The Grove was opened in 2000 in moral support for the community who experienced a devastating bushfire in the previous year. As such it was a memorial not only for Bowra and O’Dea clients but also for the community itself.
2000/01 Guilderton – Mini Pinnacles
The initial planting at Guilderton in 2000 had a low success rate so an infill planting was undertaken the following year, when the Grove was opened. There are now well over 3000 trees still standing in this beautiful Grove. There is a ‘dugout’ area that is not as well established but provides an interesting feature and unique character to the Grove with pinnacle like structures.
The Byford Memorial Grove was planted to revegetate an area that was previously cleared as a rifle range. The area was severely eroded and the soil of very poor quality. The planting has greened a large expanse of land and has had several infill plantings since the initial one in 2002. This Grove provides a nice beginning to a local bushwalk track and is frequently visited by a large mob of kangaroos.
Wandi Memorial Grove is situated within Magenup Lake Reserve, in the southern suburbs of metropolitan Perth. The site was planted in 2003 and opened in 2004 with a large variety of beautiful species. Although smaller than some of the other Groves, this is a lovely planting and frequently visited.
2005/06 York (Mt Brown Reserve)
York Memorial Grove is located on the road to Mt Brown Lookout, and has a spectacular view all of its own. The Grove was opened in 2006 and offers friends and family a lovely place for reflection with picnic facilities and a small Grove of healthy young trees. This Grove will be infill planted to increase the number of trees present.
MOTT is working with WAPC, South East Regional Centre for Urban Landcare ( SERCUL) and Bowra & O’Dea to support the creation of a Memorial Park on Regional Open Space owned by the WAPC and bounded by Horley Road, Kenwick Link and the Roe Highway reserve in the locality of Beckenham by establishing a Memorial Grove, of approximately 4,000 trees and native plantings, each year for five years at the Beckenham Region Open Space commencing in 2008.