Rachel Davies is the Volunteering Officer for Unlocking the Severn. She is responsible for delivering the volunteering program for the project, together with assistance from Pete Savage, our Waterways Apprentice. In her first blog post, Rachel shares some insights into how our Green Team are staying green in lockdown.
Three months ago, on a cold but sunny morning, I had the pleasure of meeting a group of potential volunteers at Diglis Island. This meeting was a taster session for a group that would soon be known as the Green Team. The taster session was a big success, and after running a further two taster sessions, we soon had a very enthusiastic group ready to get to work on the island. The Green Team is now a small, dedicated group of volunteers that meet at Diglis Island every Wednesday and take part in a 5-hour work party, led by Pete as part of his apprenticeship. The work parties are varied but involve carrying out island maintenance, making the island safer for people and improving habitats for wildlife.
Over the past three months we have made some brilliant progress on the island, including:
-coppicing hazels trees to improve age structure on the island and create a variety of habitats for the resident wildlife,
-path maintenance to create a safer environment for when the island is opened up to school groups and guided public groups,
-hedge laying to create a safety barrier for people on a steep bankside, but also to provide a more varied habitat for wildlife on the island,
-vegetation control to control plants growing around and in front of the Grade ll listed workshop located on the island, protecting the building from potential damage.
During the last week of March, our work parties were sadly put on hold due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Although we understood how important this was, Pete and I both greatly missing heading to the island on a Wednesday morning and meeting the Green Team. To compensate for missing out on this, we decided to set aside an hour this past Wednesday morning to pay homage to the Green Team and do some maintenance in our own gardens whilst we’re all staying home. We asked the Green Team to get involved by sharing stories of what they have been doing in their own gardens, and as usual, we were met with enthusiasm all round! Here’s a look at some of the things the team has been up to over the past week.
Mark has been busy prepping his beds ready to plant vegetables for this year and recently dug up another lawn to use as a vegetable garden! He has already started planting, beginning with onion sets and carrots and he has plans to continue with beetroots, parsnips and tomato seeds. Mark has also taken time to admire some of the wild plants in his garden including these lovely cowslips and primroses.
John has kept busy by using wood from his log pile to build a retainer alongside his drive, a technique that Pete is keen to use on Diglis Island in the future.
Lynn, who is one of our volunteers that was sadly affected by flooding this winter, has been happy to report this week that her garden has finally recovered from the floods and is definitely showing great signs of being a lovely show for this summer. She has found time to paint the outside of her greenhouse and has also been busy prepping her raised beds ready for planting up.
Robin has been doing some very heavy gardening, creating a space to build a shed and an area for relaxation. This looks like hard work!
Pete has been sorting out a huge stack of logs in his garden, left over from a large laurel tree he had to remove. He has done this by turning them into a log pile. In the picture you’ll be able to spot a rodent hibernaculum that he has been able to incorporate into the log pile too! It looks like he will be kept busy for a few more gardening hours yet as he still has more logs to saw up and add in.
It’s really positive and uplifting that the Green Team have managed to find a way to stay in touch throughout these uncertain times. Being outside in nature is a valuable gift, and our gardens allow us to do this whenever we please. For those who are lucky enough to have outdoor garden spaces, why not exercise your green fingers and spend some time working in your garden? Or maybe take your breakfast outside and see what wildlife you can spot from the comfort of your own green space? When you think about it, gardens are like our own private green islands, and they are invaluable in helping us stay happy, healthy and connected to nature. We feel very lucky to have them at this time!