The parish council has just submitted its interim report to Severn Trent for the funding received for planting and biodiversity improvements in the village. Looking back on the last six months for the report has brought home just how much has been achieved in incredibly difficult circumstances.
We applied for the funding in January, obviously unaware of covid-19 and the restrictions and impacts that were to come. The funds have to spent within a year so we had to find a way to adapt our plans and work within guidelines, so we could still use the project to safely bring people together and to make positive additions to the village.
It’s unfortunate the focus had to change from public meetings, mass-volunteering events and launch parties, to creating opportunities for people to plant/volunteer in small bubbles, but it’s been more important than ever to provide a focus for residents to be able to be outdoors and either engaged safely in volunteering activities or tending plants in their own time.
Back in February, living willow training for three volunteer residents went very well and, with three additional volunteers, a willow dome was planted to expand the children’s play area (and is now growing well despite a recent set back of vandalism).
Once lockdown started we could only plan remotely: designing new playground signs, commissioning a biodiversity report from resident expert Nick Steggall, delivering flyers in the one-a-day walk asking for feedback and writing updates for the newsletter.
Once guidelines permitted, in July, we organised two small working-parties, creating large community raised beds with composting in the playground, installing pavilion rain water harvesting and new welcome signs.
During the work, volunteers spoke about how good it felt to ease out of lockdown by helping the community and safely working outdoors with others again. Residents also commented on how uplifting it was to see activity after lockdown had hushed the village.
A wet and windy August delayed progress on the wildflower areas, which then became the focus in September, with essential help from Gordon Robson followed by volunteers divided into small groups to tackle overgrown hedgerows, soil preparation and sowing.
Everyone worked so hard and we were very grateful for kindly lent machinery from Priory Tool Hire and extra help from Reg at the cricket club. The areas look shockingly brown and barren now but, thanks to all the hard work and a bespoke mix of seed made especially for Marton’s conditions and needs, we’ve been assured that next year it will be transformed and each year after it will get better and better.
There are still a few elements to come (like the ‘hard to recycle’ scheme) but so far an incredible 52 volunteers from the village have given more than 1,600 hours to the project. We thank all of you for your hard work and enthusiasm!