Sunday, 31 December 2006

Happy New Year 2007

Goodbye 2006Last year, with help from a lot of willing volunteers, we raked and heaped up grass from about 3 acres of the field, planted and mulched over 1500 trees and shrubs and managed to select good weather for our working party days! So, thank you everyone for helping to make last year such an enjoyable success.
We shall hope to see you all again this year, heading towards Buckle's Wood, with welly boots on and gardening implements to hand. We shall need to spend some time dong maintenance work, culminating with our last tree planting session in November. There will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to get involved, even the less energetic can help! All activities will be advertised on this blog.

Monday, 11 December 2006

Bird's-eye view of Buckle's Wood

We would like to thank Bob Dewes and the crew of the Sea King search and rescue helicopter, who, with special authorisation from Elmsett and Wattisham airfields hovered over our village, to take some great 'photos of our newly planted community woodland.

Sunday, 19 November 2006

I don't believe it!

Another gorgeous day for our working party.
Beautiful saplings from Sandy Lane Nursery, Wattisfield.
Loads of volunteers to plant them.
Grenville from The Green Light Trust helped and kept us on the right path.
Juliet Hawkins, from Buckle's Farm, inspired children to be creative.
Plenty of wholesome refreshments to distract us from our mission.
Over 800 trees and shrubs planted and mulched
Finished by 2.30.

BRILLIANT
Thank you everyone

Saturday, 18 November 2006

An essential service
















(Left to right) Jackie Parkinson, Blanche Seager, Anne Rivers & Diane Diss kept all the volunteers fed with delicious soup and home made cakes, and provided lots of tea and coffee to keep everyone going on the 18th November Planting Day.

Sunday, 5 November 2006

EVERYONE WELCOME

Our next tree planting session will be on
Saturday 18th November,
from 10 o'clock onwards.
We shall have 800+ trees and shrubs to plant.
No heavy digging is required! Please bring
a wheelbarrow, spade and lump hammer
(We have some equipment that people can use).
Please mark your tools in some way for easy
identification at the end of the day.
SOUP AND REFRESHMENTS
for hungry workers.
Hope to see you there!
Still Life?

Monday, 23 October 2006

Grow a tree

Now's the time of year to collect tree seeds. Children from Elmsett school have collected seeds for Buckle's Wood. Whether or not Elmsett children go to the local school, they can still grow trees at home - the BBC provides some simple instructions. However, please don't grow conkers (chestnut seeds) as they're not suitable for our project. Instead, please try ash, oak, hornbeam, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, or elder. The more trees we grow ourselves, the fewer we have to buy.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

The Green Light Trust


CONGRATULATIONS!
The Green Light Trust's new, deeply green and environmentally friendly headquarters has received an award from R.I.B.A.
Read all about it at The Green Light Trust website.

"Like a medieval landscape"

Maybe this is the sort of thing Sue meant?

Part of 'Haymaking', by Pieter Bruegel, 16th century.

Well done everyone!

On a lovely warm Saturday morning, starting at 10.00 o'clock, about 60 adults and children raked, wheelbarrowed and heaped the hay into big piles. We were sustained by delicious refreshments, supplied by Blanche, Jackie, Diane, Lorna and Alison and were finished by early afternoon.

The youngsters deserve a special mention, as most of them were under 12 years old. They all worked willingly and with enthusiasm (with a little bit of mischief making at the end!!). We left with the piles of hay intact and the field looking strangly like a medieval landscape.

We are now ready to plant our next lot of 830 trees and shrubs on November 18th. Let's hope the weather will be kind again.

Monday, 16 October 2006

One man went to mow.

We need to prepare the field for our next tree planting session in November, so Russell Goodchild mowed the grass on Monday 9th October, watched by excited members of the playgroup.

He did a good job, but what a lot of hay to rake into heaps on the 14th October! This is just a small part of the field.

Thursday, 7 September 2006

EGGS News

At the Steering Group meeting on 6th September, EGGS elected the following people as officers for the year: Chair – Sue Mackie; Vice-Chair – Jackie Parkinson; Secretary – Margaret Nelson, with help from Jackie Parkinson and Alison Grant; Treasurer – Sue Gull; School liaison – Alison Grant and Hilary Furlong.

Hilary reported on the recent visit by Babergh Tree Wardens to the village, which included Buckle’s Wood. The wardens made constructive comments on the management of the hedges to encourage wildlife.

The steering group is going to buy a collection of tools for the use of volunteers on working parties. The first will be on 14th October, when we’ll be cutting and raking the grass prior to the next big planting session on 18th November.

We’ll need a big turnout on both days, so please note them in your diaries NOW –

Saturday 14th October and Saturday 18th November, starting at 10am.

Back to school





The children are back at Elmsett School this week. These are some of the pieces of work they did about EGGS last year, chosen at random. We look forward to seeing more.

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Grant from Hadleigh Rotary Club

EGGS has received a grant of £100 from Hadleigh Rotary Club, which will be used to buy tools. Thank you, Hadleigh Rotarians.

Tuesday, 11 July 2006

AGM, and other business

At the Elmsett Greenlife Grove Scheme AGM on June 30th, the following indicated a willingness to belong to the Steering Group: Sue Mackie, Margaret Nelson, Maria O’Donnell, Jackie Parkinson, James Seeley, Alison Grant, Blanche Seager, Liam Glennan, Diane Diss, James Hitchcock and Sue Gull, who will take over the treasurer’s role from Celia Wright. Since the AGM, Hilary Furlong has joined the group.

Margaret (as Chair) reported on the scheme’s progress over the last year, saying that our success in getting the scheme going took some by surprise. She thanked those who’ve made it possible to get this far: Sue Mackie MBE, for her hard work as EGGS Secretary; Grenville Clark from the Green Light Trust, for his advice, support and encouragement; Paul Marshall and the children and staff of Elmsett School for their enthusiastic involvement; Celia Wright, for keeping the books - we’re sorry to lose her; James Hitchcock, for the bridge and notice boards; Babergh District Council, in the form of Peter Berry, for a grant to pay for the latter; all the active members of the group, for their practical help and involvement; Gary Battell from the County Council and Mark Nowers from the RSPB, for their advice and support.

Some local people have made gifts of money or trees, and we’re hoping that more will follow. We’re providing certificates to mark their generosity.

Keith Young from Partridges in Hadleigh has said that they’re willing to give us a discount on any tools we might need, so we hope to provide them with a list soon.

The Steering Group will elect its officers for the coming year at its next meeting in September. Margaret won’t stand for re-election as Chair, so this vacancy must be filled.

Alison Grant reported on the school’s involvement with the scheme. The tree nursery has been filled, emptied and filled again ready for this year’s planting. The children have been learning about trees. In September, younger children collected seeds from the hedges around the wood to sow in the nursery. The older children were eager to use tree nursery stock to begin the school plot. Grenville Clarke led these sessions and presented certificates to children who’d attended the village planting. We thank the PTA for buying a tree for each member of staff and child. The school has been busy building nesting boxes, looking at water conservation, and developing the gardening club. Hopefully, there’ll soon be water butts to irrigate the nursery, bought with a grant from the Recycling Fund. Grenville came to the school again in May to work with Year 5 and 6 children on tree identification, check the trees planted last November and fill the tree nursery, aided by Blanche, Jackie and Hilary from EGGS. The school is grateful to Grenville and Margaret for their input into the school project; the children have gained a great deal.

On 3rd September, members of the Steering Group, Grenville Clark and Duncan McLennan from the Village Hall Management Committee met Peter Tilley, Suffolk County Council Access Development Officer, who gave advice about how we might provide access to the wood for disabled people, as we’re obliged to by the Disability Discrimination Act. At a subsequent meeting, a majority of the Steering Group voted to ask Suffolk County Council to upgrade the public footpath and investigate the possibility of a parking space for two cars at the end nearest the school.

The next working session at Buckle’s Wood will be in September. Please look out for notices nearer the time. The working session on 24th June was poorly attended, so we hope more people will turn out next time.

Sunday, 25 June 2006

Working party

There was a disappointing turnout for the working session yesterday. Anyway, thanks to those who came to rake and mulch. Those who didn't come missed some excellent cakes - thanks to the cake-bakers!

Monday, 12 June 2006

There's always someone...

... who has to spoil things. Our temporary notice boards have been knocked down by vandals. We take a very dim view of this. We'll take an even dimmer view if they have a go at our trees. So please be vigilant. If you see anyone acting suspiciously around Buckle's Wood, please report it. Please phone the police (613500). If you happen to have a mobile phone on you, and can see the perpetrators, dial 999 - they might even be caught in the act.

Wednesday, 31 May 2006

Bumble bees

Bumblebees are in decline. A new organisation has been set up to try to save them - the Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Some bumblebees might find suitable food plants in the hedges around Buckle's Wood, but since Elmsett's full of nature lovers (judging from the number that turned out on planting day), maybe we can provide more for the bees in our gardens? Traditional native plants like bluebells, rosemary, geraniums and honeysuckle are all good for them, but there are more suggestion's on the BCT's site.

Photo (c) M Nelson 2005

Green Light Trust events

The Green Light Trust, in partnership with Suffolk County Council, is organising two events where you can learn more about owning and managing a community woodland. On Wednesday 21st they'll be at Moreton Hall Community Centre, near Bury St Edmunds, and on 22nd June they'll be at Debenham Community Centre. Both are from 6 to 8pm, beginning with a presentation and ending with a visit to the local community woodland. RSVPs by 16th June. If anyone would like to see what other groups are doing (especially what Moreton Hall woodlanders have done for disabled visitors), please let us know.

The trust reports: Susan Hollister is part of the 'Wildwood' group in Needham Market, which formed in 2002 and now has its own hectare of woodland.
"Without the advice, support, enthusiasm and expertise of the Green Light team I am certain our project would never have started, as the range and depth of knowledge required was initially quite intimidating. Their visionary approach to creating new woodlands, encouraging local biodiversity and educating all ages and abilities within the community helped us to set up a project which will enhance our local environmental heritage for countless future generations."

Buckle's Wood bridge

Babergh District Council has awarded EGGS a grant to pay for the costs of the bridge (built by James Hitchcock) that leads from Village Hall land to Buckle's Wood across a ditch, thanks to Babergh's Countryside Officer, Peter Berry. The grant includes the cost of the temporary notice board (also made by JH).












There will eventually be a larger notice board with a plan of the wood and other information.

The photo on the left is of the gap in the hedge, pre-bridge.


Sunday, 28 May 2006

Report from RSPB Warden, Mark Nowers

I had a stroll around Buckle's Wood this morning.

There was a fair breeze that may have suppressed some songsters, but they did not prevent the following being seen/heard. I have added a few comments where appropriate.

Greenfinch - four birds in the dead elms in the east hedge. Most likely nesting in the hedge.

Woodpigeon.

Blackbird - a male singing on the wires by the north hedge.

Yellowhammer - a male singing on the wires to the north of the field. It then moved in to the north hedge and seemed very agitated. Likely to be nesting in there. Yellowhammers like a hedgerow to have some tall trees which they favour as song-posts.

House Martin - one over the fields.

Mistle Thrush - male singing by the hall.

Blue Tit - feeding in the east hedge.

Wren - singing in the north hedge.

Carrion Crow.

Whitethroat - one calling in the east hedge (north-east corner of the field).

Green Woodpecker - heard one 'yaffling' nearby.

Dunnock - male singing in the south hedge.

Great Tit - a pair by the bridge.

Sparrowhawk - a female flew out of the west hedge clutching what looked like a Blue Tit.

Stock Dove - a pair flew out of the south hedge. These are a hole-nesting dove (Wood Pigeons and Collared Doves make a flimsy twig nest) and I suspect they are breeding near to the field.

There was a fantastic male Orange Tip butterfly in the north-west corner of the field.

Lovely to see the saplings growing and the hedge thickening out. It makes for a fantastic habitat and a good shelter belt for the young trees in the field as well.

Hope all is well in the village.

Mark

To find out more about the birds and butterfly Mark saw, click on the links.

Illustration of an orange tip butterfly from the RSPB website.

Wet weather, and the AGM

All the rain we've had lately might have interfered with your half term holiday, but it's been good for our young trees. They've thrived in the wet weather. Let's hope the summer is sunnier, but not too dry.

Under the terms of our constitution and the agreement we have with the Green Light Trust, EGGS must have an AGM within 15 months of the last one. Accordingly, we’ll have an AGM on 30th June.

EGGS steering group members may, or may not, stand for re-election, and anyone else who’s interested is welcome to nominate him or herself. If you have special skills that could be useful, that would be great, but enthusiasm is our main requirement. We need people with a passion for trees, the countryside and the community, with a “can do” attitude. Even if you’re not physically fit, there are plenty of ways to make yourself useful. If you’d like to know more, please get in touch.

The Green Light Trust, which supports the Elmsett scheme, provides training and other resources. So far, we haven’t taken advantage of what they’ve offered. There’s an opportunity in the near future, open to anyone involved with EGGS and the school. The trust’s new HQ, the Foundry in Lawshall, is the venue for a course on Monday 26th and Tuesday 27th June. The Forest School Skills Award Level 1 course would normally cost £250, but their special offer price is £150. EGGS could pay for a steering group member or supporter who’d apply the resulting skills to our scheme. It’s a fully accredited course with the Open College Network and will be led by an experienced team of accredited Forest School Leaders, providing an OCN certificate. It’s aimed at teachers, teaching assistants, nursery nurses, youth club leaders, and anyone interested in working/playing with primary age children in the great outdoors. For more information on Forest Schools and an application form, please contact Adrian - adrian@greenlighttrust.org, tel. 01284 830829, and please let us know if you’re interested. The trust can also help by arranging Criminal Record Bureau checks for anyone who’s going to work with children.

At the last EGGS steering group meeting, there was disagreement about disabled access. The Disability Discrimination Act covers outdoor spaces that are open to the public, such as our scheme. According to guidelines published by the Countryside Agency, together with English Nature, the Rural Development Service, and DEFRA, we are expected to provide access “by all reasonable means”. Failure to do so could result in a challenge in the courts. Opinion was divided between those who felt that it’s “too soon” to think about disabled access to the Elmsett scheme, and those who felt that we should find out as much as we can about our options so we can incorporate access as the scheme develops. For example, we could visit other schemes in the county who can show us what they’ve done to provide access for disabled people, and see how we might adapt some of their ideas. The term “disabled” isn’t just about people in wheelchairs. It includes:
  • people with poor manual co-ordination or little strength;
  • people with sensory impairments, including impaired sight and hearing;
  • people who lack memory, concentration or understanding;
  • people with progressive conditions, such as MS, HIV or cancer.
If you have any useful information on the subject, please get in touch.

For more information, see:
The Fieldfare Trust, promoting countryside access for disabled people.
By all reasonable means: inclusive access to the outdoors for disabled people’ from the Countryside Agency (PDF)
To open a PDF file, you need to download the free Adobe Reader.

Saturday, 29 April 2006

Thanks, again

We've collected more tree seedlings at the school's tree nursery. Thank you to everyone who brought plants they'd rescued from their gardens. As one donor said, “it's good to know they'll be taken care of and allowed to grow, instead of just being thrown on the rubbish pile”.

The photo above is of an opening chestnut bud. We've been given several chestnuts, and although they'll grow into wonderful trees, given a chance, we don't want any more, thank you. There's a list of what we want on a previous post, but chestnuts grow too big and are only suitable as specimen trees on the wood's perimeter. So thanks, but no thanks.

Does anyone want a chestnut? I’ve got several pot grown plants to give away. Email me at nelson.margaret [at] gmail.com if you do (you know what to do with the address – it’s written this way to foil spammers).

The EGGS group will award commemorative certificates to anyone who donates bought trees or money to buy tools or trees. The first certificate will go to Maggie Gardiner, who’s given several trees that were bought with money from a legacy. There’ll be a presentation on our next activity day – to be announced. If you’d like to donate trees in memory of someone you loved, or to mark a special occasion, like a new arrival in the family, please get in touch.

Our thanks to James Hitchcock, James Seeley and their helpers who’ve collected mulching material donated by Peter Austin and stored it at Gate Farm. We’re also grateful to James Hitchcock for the bridge and the two temporary notice boards he made.

The Disability Discrimination Act requires those of us who provide a service to the public in the countryside to ensure that disabled people have access to the outdoors, ‘by all reasonable means’. The term ‘disability’ covers a variety of impairments and conditions – it’s not just about people in wheelchairs. We’ll be consulting local people to find out what problems, if any, they may have that could prevent them from enjoying access to Buckle’s Wood.

We won’t be providing dog mess bins at Buckle’s Wood. There are already bins on the meadow, by the road. No one will empty bins by the wood. Many walk their dogs along the footpath by the wood and there is evidence that some allow their dogs to relieve themselves there, without clearing up after them. Please bear in mind that this whole area is open to the public and the school will increasingly use it as an educational resource. Please clear up after your dogs! Recently, a team of volunteer litter-pickers discovered that dog-walkers had picked up their dog’s mess in plastic bags and then thrown the bags of mess into hedges or onto verges. What did they imagine would happen to it there? Only a small minority of local dog owners behave in this anti-social way. It’s disgusting – please don’t do it.
Photo & illustration (c) M Nelson 2006

Monday, 24 April 2006

Buckle's Wood birdlife

Local RSPB Warden Mark Nowers reports on a walk around Buckle's Wood.

I had a stomp around the field and hedgerow on the 9 April and recorded the following species on or immediately adjacent:

Blue Tit
Blackbird
Wood Pigeon
Buzzard - flew over
Stock Dove
Green Woodpecker
Great Tit
Mistle Thrush
Starling
Dunnock
Robin
Red-legged Partridge

I would expect the hedgerow to hold whitethroat and possibly lesser whitethroat (both migrants that winter in Africa and are arriving about now) where it is thicker. If it can be left to thicken up and not cut annually then that would really help birds, bugs the lot.

Click on the names of the birds for more information from the RSPB.

Photograph of a starling (c) M Nelson 2006

Wednesday, 19 April 2006

Refilling the tree nursery

This was Elmsett School's tree nursery last year, since when the children have nurtured the seedlings and most have been planted in Buckle's Wood. That means that there's room in the nursery for more tree seedlings donated by villagers - or anyone else, we're not fussy about where they come from!

If you have small trees to donate, please bring them to Elmsett School between 10 am and midday on Saturday 29th April.

No chestnuts thank you, or ornamental flowering trees. These are what we want -

Ash, oak, hornbeam, hazel, hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, field maple, wild privet, holly or yew.

Sunday, 15 January 2006

Buckle's Wood - a beginning


Elmsett Greenlife Grove Scheme’s first tree-planting day on Saturday 14th January was a huge success. About a hundred people from Elmsett and surrounding villages came to help, so all the trees and shrubs were planted in about an hour and the weather was kind to us. Buckle’s Wood, our community woodland, has been named after landowner James Buckle, who came to plant a few trees and offer his encouragement.

The planting was mentioned several times on BBC Radio Suffolk and reported in the local newspapers.

Thanks are due to Grenville Clark (People Planting Team Leader from the Green Light Trust), Sue Mackie (EGGS Secretary), Alison Grant (EGGS/School liaison), and James Hitchcock (who built the bridge over the ditch). Thanks to all the steering group members who’ve helped us get this far, the suppliers of all the delicious home made soup provided for our volunteer tree-planters, and all the children who helped to make it such an enjoyable morning.

The EGGS team is pleased to report that our application for funding from the Forestry Commission’s English Woodland Grants Scheme has been successful. We should receive our first payment in the spring. Meanwhile, we’ve been approached by people who’d like to contribute money or trees and will make arrangements to receive donations soon.

Elmsett School will plant the trees they’ve grown in the tree nursery and those they’ve been donated on 27th January. There’ll be working parties over the next few months to add more mulch, etc., and the next big planting will be in November. We planted small ‘whips’, less than 3’ high, in slits made with a spade and then trodden in, so don’t be put off helping next time by the thought of having to dig big holes for big trees – it’s not like that. If anyone is interested in helping us in any way and hasn’t already told us, please get in touch with Sue Mackie on 01473 658297.

Sunday, 1 January 2006

January 14th's the day!

Bring your wellies, wheelbarrows and as many willing helpers as you can muster at 10am on Saturday 14th January 2006 to the Meadow, Elmsett. The site (over the hedge) will be marked out at 8.30am, then there'll be training for Team Leaders at 9.30am.

If you're willing to volunteer as a Team Leader, please phone Sue Mackie (01473 658297) ASAP - it's not difficult - it just involves helping to organise the planters in groups.