Monday, 5 September 2005

Wood Field

In about five years, you'll see young trees growing here. In about twenty years, it'll all look very different. In fifty years, Elmsett villagers might have forgotten that it ever looked like this.

To enlarge, click on the picture.

Saturday, 3 September 2005

What we want in our wood

What we want in our wood
Originally uploaded by Sparrows' Friend.
The design session at the village hall today was productive, despite the disappointing turnout. We know some of you were on holiday, so you'’re forgiven! Those who participated included Mark Nowers, Wolves Wood RSPB Warden, and Gary Battell from Suffolk County Council, who both had some useful advice and information to impart. Hilary Furlong, our tree warden, offered some insights based on her specialist knowledge of the area.

After Grenville Clark (People Planting Team Leader from the Green Light Trust) had given a short slide show explaining the work of the trust and of similar schemes, we drafted some ideas on maps of the site. These will be considered by the steering group. We'’ll take advice from various experts before producing a proposal that will incorporate as many ideas as possible, though we know we won'’t be able to please everyone. We'll use many of the school children's wishes for our plans. Several people mentioned wanting '‘a stream'’ around the woodland, but artificial streams can only be created on a small scale in gardens with pumping equipment. There is no water course through our field so there won'’t be a stream, but there may be a pond to attract wildlife and birds.

The ideas we'’ve collected include:
Owl boxes;
A semi-open vista through the wood, so walkers can see the view across the fields to St. Peter'’s Church;
An open space for use as a picnic area and open-air classroom;
Shrubby areas to provide a habitat for wildlife;
A memorial area, where people can plant trees in memory of their loved ones;
A log pile, where rotting timber will provide another natural habitat.

It'’s not too late to add ideas to the pool, but please let us know ASAP if you'’d like them taken into consideration.

James Buckle, the landowner, and Grenville, have submitted a grant application to the Forestry Commission. We'’re hoping it'’ll be successful, but we'’ll still need to raise funds from elsewhere.

At the end of November we'’ll begin planting trees, and will need lots of helpers. Even if you can'’t dig, there are other ways you might help. We'’d especially like some help with fund-raising, and if there are any engineers or surveyors in the village, we'’d love to hear from you. Email eggscheme[at]

Saturday, 27 August 2005

Design a Woodland

There'll be a Design a Woodland session in Elmsett & Aldham Village Hall on Saturday next, 3rd September, starting at 10 am. If you can’t come but would like to contribute your ideas, please click on this map, save it, print it A4 size, add your suggestions, and return it to Sue Mackie before Saturday.

We’d welcome suggestions for a name for our new woodland. The field used to be called ‘Wood Field’.

You can email us - see the address, right. It's been altered to prevent spam, but you know what to do.

Sunday, 14 August 2005

EGGS progress report, August 2005

by Sue Mackie

Following a second informal meeting with James Buckle, Grenville and Margaret will draw up an agreement between EGGS and James that will allow us to plant and manage our new woodland on the field at the back of The Meadow.

This is the small area of land surrounded by an ancient hedge, about 6.5+ acres in size. The original name was The Wood Field! After James has harvested the wheat, he'll prepare the land and sow a grass mix for us, so that we can begin planting in the late autumn. He appears to be very interested in our scheme and has offered a considerable amount of practical help.

With support from Oswald Simpson and Sean and Nicci French-Gerrard, we'll be able to use the footpath that goes along the fields at the back of the meadow for tractor and trailer access. We are planning to build a new bridge across the ditch at the back of the meadow for pedestrians - there are one or two gaps that we could widen slightly.

Grenville, Gary Battell (Woodland Advisory Officer at Suffolk CC) and Margaret have been working on a basic design plan for our woodland in order to obtain a grant from The Forestry Commission. There are various other sources of money that are available and we are looking for a willing volunteer to help us with grant applications and fundraising. Please let me know if you can help.

The basic plan will be amended following an open meeting for the villagers on Saturday 3rd September at the Village Hall from 10 o’clock. Everyone will be given a map of The Wood Field on which ideas and designs can be drawn. The school has provided a lot of good ideas from the children and staff, although I think the person who suggested coconut trees may be disappointed.

Friday, 15 July 2005

The Children's Day

More pictures of Elmsett schoolchildren's busy day on June 16th: having fun in a maze made from willow; arriving at the trust's woodland; singing around a yew tree; showing some of their work, after learning to identify different types of trees; and, back at the school, planting tree seedlings (donated by villagers and parents) in the school's new tree nursery.

Saturday, 18 June 2005

The scheme is launched

On the afternoon of 16th June, our community woodland scheme was formally launched at a tree-planting in the grounds of Elmsett School. It was attended by staff, parents and children from the school, and villagers and visitors.

The children had spent the morning at the Green Light Trusts' HQ and woodland at Lawshall. After lunch, back at the school, they had a slide show, provided by the trust. Each class in turn planted some tree seedlings in the new tree nursery, and after playime there were stories and poems, written by the children, outside under the ash tree.

When all the guests were assembled, Grenville Clark from the trust gave a Rainforest Blessing and some children planted a red hawthorn tree next to the school flagpole, photographed for the press. A time capsule full of messages from the children went into the hole.

Then everyone went indoors for a celebration tea, prepared by generous volunteers.

At 4 o'clock members of the steering group, Paul Marshall, the school's head teacher, and Grenville, met a local landowner, James Buckle, who came to discuss the possibility of providing some land for our woodland. We have accepted his generous offer of about six acres next to the school, and hope to begin planting trees this November, once all the necessary paperwork has been completed.

It seems that we will be eligible for funding from a variety of sources, including the county and district councils, so were very optimistic about development of our woodland scheme.

Monday, 30 May 2005

Village fete

The EGGS stall
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
Our stall at the village fete looked good - well done everyone! - but it rained, and rained. We were all right for the first hour or two, despite a bit of a tussle with the gazebo (poles were in the wrong order, apparently). Sue had brought lots of sunflower seedlings to give away to children who could name the birds on a chart; the idea was that they took them home to grow for bird food in the autumn. James brought lots of branches, to make it look woodland-ish (made me think of Macbeth's "and now a wood comes toward Dunsinane.")

The wind blew the screens over (they were covered in the children's tree poetry), and the balloons bounced about. When everyone got too soggy, we packed up and went home.

Let's see - how does this go?
Liam pins his badge on.

For more pictures, click here.

Friday, 27 May 2005

On the radio

On the radio
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
This is Nick Pandolfi, cheerful award-winning BBC Radio Suffolk presenter, grinning at me through the window of the studio while I waited to go in.

Had a senior moment on the way to the studio this morning - well, I hadn't had much sleep. Left my script behind, so had to write a new version in haste when I got there. On top of that, had an uncontrollable tickle, which meant I had to dive out of the door just before I went on air, so's not to deafen the listeners with my coughing. O well - got there in the end!

Leafy Lane

Leafy Lane
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
This is between Boxford and Kersey, but the lanes around here are all bursting with new growth.

Haven't had much rain lately. Heard it's going to be a dry summer. Better make the most of the lushness while we can.

Tree in May

Tree in May
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
This one's at Church Farm, Elmsett.

EGGS is really getting going now. We'll be at the village fete on Monday (30th April). Look for us with the green hats, ivy and baby trees. On 16th June we'll be at the school with a tree-planting and celebration tea.

I'm talking about EGGS on BBC Radio Suffolk today, on Thought for the Day, as follows:

I’ve always been keen on trees. I’ve planted them whenever I’ve had the space. Thirty years ago, I lived near Oxford, where I planted a balsam poplar. It smelt gorgeous after it rained. I’d love to know if it’s still there – someone might have cut it down.

A year ago, the Green Light Trust had a stall at our village fete. The trust supports and encourages those who want to establish community woodlands – woods planted by and for local people. I registered an interest in establishing one in Elmsett.

In March this year we signed a People Planting Agreement with the Green Light Trust and set up Elmsett Greenlife Grove Scheme, a name chosen after consulting the village schoolchildren, who liked the acronym EGGS. In a way, it’s especially apt. An egg is used as a symbol of new life at Easter, the spring equinox festival, and we’re aiming to create new life – trees, and the creatures that live in them.

On Monday, we’ll have an EGGS stall at the village fete, to raise awareness of the scheme. We’ve had encouraging messages from local landowners. Next month we’ll launch the scheme at the school, where the children have started a tree nursery. They’re all going to visit the trust’s woodland at Lawshall. When you plant trees, you need an imagination, and seeing what other people have done should inspire them and make them aware that trees need time to grow and mature. Far-sighted people plant trees.

One of my favourite poems is by an American poet, Wendell Berry. He wrote about planting trees, “Let me desire and wish well the life these trees may live when I no longer rise in the mornings to be pleased by the green of them shining, and their shadow on the ground, and the sound of the wind in them.”

But it’s not just the beauty of trees, the sight and sound of them, that matters. They’re the lungs of the world. They stop soil erosion. They provide a habitat for birds, beasts and insects, and they mean jobs, timber, and the materials for all sort of woodcraft too.

We’ll be collecting tree seeds and seedlings and buying plants from a tree nursery for our woodland. One day, maybe, the grandchildren of some of the children who go to the village school may walk in our woodland. I’ll be long gone by then. I’ll be buried under a tree.

Wednesday, 13 April 2005

The road home

The road home
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
Trees on the road from Ipswich, just before Gate Farm Cottages, on a misty April evening.

Trees on the meadow

Trees on the meadow
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
It'll be a very long time before any of our trees look like this. These are the two that grow between the village hall and the school, stripped bare in winter. Spring and summer pictures will follow.

Chestnut sapling

Chestnut sapling
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
Now the weather's warmer, the young trees are growing fast.

EGGS Secretary Sue Mackie reported on our progress to the Annual Parish Meeting on Tuesday 12th April. There weren't many people there and no one seemed interested enough to ask any questions, except one parish councillor, who wanted to know why we'd called it EGGS, in a disapproving sort of way. Well, at least he was paying attention.

Friday, 1 April 2005

Chestnut bud

Chestnut bud
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
Spring is springing at last, so the trees are starting to sprout leaves. You have to get close to see most of them but soon they'll all be green.

Tuesday, 29 March 2005

EGGS steering group

EGGS steering group
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
The group at the school when we signed a formal agreement with the Green Light Trust establishing the Elmsett Greenlife Grove Scheme steering group. The name was chosen with the help of the children at the school, who liked 'egg' (but that's a credit card company so we couldn't call ourselves that), and 'greenlife'.

Steering group members from top left, clockwise - Celia Wright (treasurer), Jackie Parkinson, Blanche Seager, Alison Grant, Diane Diss, Sean French, James Hitchcock, Margaret Nelson (chair), and Sue Mackie (secretary).

Tree seedlings

Tree seedlings
Originally uploaded by Feed The Birds.
A collection of chestnut and oak seedlings, grown from seeds collected in the village. The parent chestnut grows opposite the end of Manor Road and is a target of conker hunters every autumn. The parent oak grows on The Meadow, next to the High Street, opposite the end of Ipswich Road. If they survive, they'll eventually be planted in the community woodland.