Thursday morning Volunteering and Green Cotham update
A message from the Thursday volunteering morning, which this year has focused on weeding/ gardening lanes, picking up litter and catching up with neighbours! We are always pleased to have new or old volunteers… Turn up at the playground at 10am to find us.
The morning usually consists of us choosing the area with the most weeds/ wildflowers and getting down to work, getting to know each other better as we go.
We all have our different styles of working - some of us work to bring the lanes temporarily back to shining minimalism (or ruthless austerity), others like me selective weed seeing much to admire and wonder at in the diverse range of little crack loving plants.
Talking about plant species is normal and focus can be on appreciation or delight, can be grumbles or even cursing. Sometimes conversation is about how difficult it can be to tell different plants apart. The gardening of the weeds brings out spontaneous chatter that can be enjoyable to be part of.
Sometimes we disturb a little mini crack nesting colony of ants or find surprising numbers of earth worms hidden underneath leaves. Then I feel guilty about tidying and justify leaving the adjacent clump of grass or ignoring some of the leaves.
After summer when the grass goes to seed, the last few years we have used a strimmer to keep areas looking a little tamer. Leaving roots is beneficial for the insects and strimming at this time of year, with a willing sweeping team is pretty efficient.
After a session you usually feel like you’ve had some exercise and it’s surprising how focusing on plants and chatting to neighbours can cheer you up.
We usually put out a message on the main WhatsApp group if none of the regulars can make it…
Green Cotham Gardening Group
Green Cotham has just been awarded a WECA (West of England combined Authority) Pollinator Grant. This will enable us to create pollinator friendly beds and pay a coordinator and assistant.
The Green Cotham Project was started in 2021 to solve the problem of long-term maintenance of the High Kingsdown Estate and Cotham Parish Church gardens. It meets Wednesday afternoons term time at the Church at 2pm and gardens alternatively at the High Kingsdown and the Church.
Between 2015-2019 Karen, residents and students (with the councils help) renovated broken down brick planters and worked on the flowerbeds.
After quite a few years of tackling heavy brickwork and digging out self seeded trees and enormous stumps with several generations of Bristol University Gardening Clubs, Karen trained as a gardener for 2 years doing RHS 2 and 3 theory and became a self employed gardener. She hoped to use her skills (degree in teaching) to be able to teach more than just tree and stump removal - her dream was to teach community gardening. Unfortunately Covid struck soon after she qualified and most voluntary gardening activities stopped. The flowerbeds began to look worse and something had to be done!!
In 2021 Karen approached the church on behalf of HKCA and a partnership was created - HK doesn’t have communal meeting spaces, storage or toilets - the church was looking to be of help to the wider community and to wildlife and was keen to support a regular community group that could provide company, exercise, mental health benefits, closeness to nature, gardening training and also support wildlife.
A steering group was created and suddenly we had the support of Hilary a therapeutic gardener, Alice and Pippa who were both good at fundraising. Our first year we were given a grant from the National Lottery, then more recently the Coop have supported us and we were generously bequeathed some money from a member of the church. This year we are really happy to have been awarded a WECA Pollinator Grant to develop the flowerbeds for pollinators.
We are gradually working out what it would take to run the estates gardens through this model - of using our communal spaces to help us build our local community, get closer to nature, help wildlife and to teach gardening. Each year we evolve what we are doing with the aim of making it a sustainable funded project.
We are currently looking for a paid assistant to support us. The job is for a year starting as soon as possible. The job centres on the Wednesday afternoon drop in and would be ideal for someone interested in community, helping wildlife, nature as therapy, mindful gardening.
If you would be interested in the job, or if you would like to volunteer with us, please get in touch. For more info contact us: email@example.com