Very good news was received this month – our grant application to Belper Town Council for GreenSpace site improvements has been approved!
To recap from last month, the grant covers the following:
- To the left of the raspberry bed a fire pit is to be created (first dug out by the children and finished off by the volunteers) and bench seating for 30 children placed round the pit. New oak railway sleepers are to be installed above and below the pit to stabilise the bank, and steps down to the main path created on either side of the pit. This pit will be a good resource for the whole community as well as the children. Also the land between the three raised vegetable beds will be stabilised using more oak sleepers and paths created there. The raised bed paths, the fire pit, and steps to it, will be laid with chipped bark.
- A native hedge that will be of use and interest to the children and wildlife including hawthorn, blackthorn, elder, buddleia and dogwood, is to be planted along the length of the post & wire fence. In addition this will soften the plot and make it more garden-like.
- Although the water feature is extremely popular with the children, it is very muddy and slippery in the winter. A storage tank for the water and improvement of the stream bed leading down from the spring by the wall is proposed. This will also be extremely useful for watering the fruit and vegetables on the site, which has no piped water. At present the neighbour at the end of West Terrace has kindly allowed us to use their outside tap, but we have to trail a hosepipe 150 yards down from there.
- Two chickens are to be hired, along with a coop, run, bedding & feed for 3 months and training. As well as supplying eggs to the school children and their families, this will teach animal husbandry, supply compost for the vegetables, and control weeds.
Other sources of income have been coming in too – we are grateful for donations from Chris Cooper, Griff Everett and Gill Brewin. Kate also organised 6 Forest School sessions during the Easter school holidays (3 on the GreenSpace, 3 in Shining Cliff Woods). These were very well received by parents and children and the money raised from them all went to GreenSpace funds.
Meanwhile work has continued on site improvements. In order to make space for the chickens, over two weekends we have made a start on burning the huge pile of dead woody material (mainly ivy) started with the big clearance effort last summer but growing ever since.
About half of the material has been burnt; we are hoping to burn the rest in the next couple of weeks. Each fire has left behind a huge pile of wood ash, which is an excellent fertiliser so has been spread round the fruit trees and raspberries.
Most of the raised beds have been planted up – we have potatoes, peas, onions, beetroot, rocket, strawberries and courgettes. Constant watering has been required since there has been no rain since the last update, but this has been rewarded with the plants now sprouting. Over the winter the less woody waste (weeds, leaves etc) has composted down nicely and so some of the younger volunteers have planted courgettes in the compost.
A longer term aim has been to continue clearance of the undergrowth beyond the composting toilet, eventually connecting to the public footpath that runs through the allotments. Volunteer Mark Hudson has used his petrol hedge strimmer, to slash through the usual jungle of ivy, brambles and sycamore, and a path has now been blazed through to a set of steps we have discovered in the wall, leading to the public footpath. More work is needed, but we’ve made a good start.
The finishing touches have been made to the composting toilet, with a large hole being dug (quite an effort through roots and compacted subsoil) and this topped with a smart wooden plinth and toilet seat – a veritable throne!
Finally another 19 bags of chipped bark have been donated by Mark Hudson and these have been used to tidy the site at the entrance and round the green shed.