IT started with the planting of 390 acorns.
And now, after plenty of sunshine and watering, 273 oak saplings – some up half-a-metre-tall – have shot up.
More than 50 children from Berewood Primary School in Waterlooville helped to re-pot the saplings to make sure they grow even more.
The project is part of ‘It Takes 700 Acorns To Grow a Boat’, a community arts project tied in with the building of 3,000 homes on fields between Purbrook and Denmead.
Funded by developer Grainger PLC, designers are developing large-scale sculptures made from steel and oak trees, reflecting the historical importance of the area in providing wood for shipbuilding in Portsmouth.
The number 700 is significant for the project, as historical sources say that it took 700 mature oaks to build the hull of the HMS Victory.
When the project is completed, 700 oak trees will have been planted at Berewood, which is named after the Forest of Bere that once covered the Waterlooville area.
Viv Kies, deputy head teacher at Berewood, said: ‘The young people involved in the planting will grow up with the trees and with the sculptures that have inspired the planting initiative. Our community-minded school was very keen to be involved in this community project from the outset and are looking forward to helping with other aspects of the programme.’
Max, aged six, a pupil, said: ‘I can’t wait for the plant to grow into an oak tree. I can’t wait for the park to be done and play with our oak ships on the lake.
‘The project is important because trees help us breathe and because we are Oak Class!’
Another part of the project will the creation of Berewood Nautical Forest School, exploring the Forest of Bere and teaching people about its extraordinary history.
Another community project to be funded by the developers will be model boatbuilding workshops.
These will be held at the International Boat Training College in Portsmouth and will teach people how to craft boats to use on the model boat pond, which will be a big feature in Waterlooville’s new town park.