Over the past three years a group of dedicated volunteers have transformed 3 extremely overgrown allotments above the former Holy Trinity Church on Hopping Hill into The Milford Community Greenspace, a wonderful place full of facilities for children to play and learn and for the wider community to use. For more details on the work that has been done in the past, the facilities created and the school groups and others that use it, see our web page here.
Throughout the life of the project regular updates of our progress have been published and this is the latest. Since our last report in July, we have completed The Peace Garden, made plans for a new water collection facility and had very successful Apple Day and Bonfire Night events on the site. Forest Schools continue to be run on the site and the regular Monday volunteers continue to diligently do their planting, harvesting, chicken care, weeding, composting, laying of chip bark paths and tidying to keep the Greenspace shipshape and welcoming for the users.
In more detail, first the Apple Day and Bonfire Night events on Greenspace.
As part of the Apple Day celebrations in Belper on 15th October Milford had its own Apple Day activities for children on Saturday 14th October on The Greenspace (poster below) along with plenty of apple pies and cakes for the children and grown ups.
Helped by pleasant weather, there was a great turnout of over 50 people and £62 was raised for Greenspace funds through sales of apple pies and cakes and drinks. The children really enjoyed themselves with the apple games and crafts – apple rolling, apple faces, apple peeling, apple mobiles etc.
For more photos of the day, see the article here.
Three weeks after Apple Day, the annual bonfire celebrations on the Greenspace on the 5th November were a real success, with the usual sparklers for the children, bonfire for toasting marshmallows and hot chocolate. As last year, bottle lights led visitors from the entrance ladder to the fire pit adding to the magical atmosphere.
For more photos from the evening, see the article here.
Don’t miss our next community event on The Greenspace – Sunday 17th December – Christmas fuddle with mince pies, jam tarts and mulled wine.
Moving on to site improvement projects, in the July report we described in detail how we had created the “Peace Garden”, a sunken paved area near the entrance of the site. Since then we have added bamboo curtains to the outside of the garden and trained clematis over them.
We were donated two chairs for the Peace Garden, which we sanded down and re polished.
We also planted miniature roses on the Church Steps side of the peace garden, and by October these looked very pretty.
The next big project, is providing more water storage onto the site. Most years the spring only flows for 3-4 months and we struggle for the other months to have enough water for the children to play with and to water the plants and chickens, even with our two existing water butts. The water collection device below was seen in allotments in Milton Keynes so we have decided to build one of our own.
We have so far purchased the large (cubic metre) framed white plastic container (AKA an IBC) and dragged it up Church Steps onto the site – as ever with these things, quite an effort!
The IBC is now in its final resting place on the Greenspace, by the wigwam. The wooden framework, roof and drainpipes will be added later.
Our programme of improving the paths on the Greenspace by laying steps, weed matting and layers of chipped bark is now complete. It is noticeable how at present, despite a month of heavy rain, the paths are so much better to walk on than they were. Also, during the summer, the suppression of weeds by the weed matting cut down the amount of weeding required considerably. This all said, in order to keep the paths in good order, the chipped bark has to be refreshed frequently. Since July two large batches have been carried to the site in multiple 40 litre bags, one donated by local tree surgeon Jonathan Beard, another from a tree on West Terrace which was cut down. The pictures below give an idea of the effort involved.
We have had a good harvest this year on The Greenspace, pictures below show the potatoes being harvested and some fine pumpkin specimens. We have also had strawberries, French beans, plums and tomatoes.
The strawberries have sent out hundreds of runners this year so we have been busily potting them up to sell for Greenspace funds. So far we have 90 pots with two plants in each. They are being sold for £1.50 a pot or £10 for 10.
All our fruit and vegetables are entirely organic, and in order to keep up the soil fertility for all these crops we have been adding composted chicken manure from the chickens over the past year, but we have also for the first time used compost from our two large compost heaps. They have had three years worth of green waste on them and have been turned for the first time, revealing 9 barrow loads of lovely compost, which has been spread on the vegetable beds.
One of the heaps had a wasps nest in it over the summer. Now safely abandoned, we extracted it as we were turning the heap and it made a fascinating item to study in the next Forest School. Wasp nests are exquisitely beautiful structures.
Another big job recently has been removal of ivy from the back retaining wall, as shown below.
Finally, it is worth mentioning the judges comments from Milford’s gold award winning entry in the East Midlands in Bloom competition. Over half of their comments were about The Greenspace – they were clearly very impressed. Their comments regarding the Greenspace are reproduced in full below.
In the introduction: “The Greenspace play area is an amazing play and learning area for the local school. The hard work of taking everything up several stone steps and ladder over the wall is forgotten when you enter this enchanted place…”