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Community Forest Garden Spring Round-Up

It's been a busy few months in the Community Forest Garden, alongside a host of other Rockaway projects that have taken up all our time, which means we've been lapse in updating this blog... So, here's a round up of everything that's happened in the garden over the Winter months in one post!

The end of 2023 saw a period of Mark sculpting different areas to improve accessibility, as well as the volunteers getting stuck into pruning, weeding, digging, mulching, composting, fence making, bramble root removal and widening veg patches.

Mark's son Danny keeps bees in Japanese hives and doesn't harvest the honey. So, when wasps attacked his hives and obliterated the population, he brought the last remaining swarm to live with us at Rockaway, and a new home was set up for them in the garden.

We were also delighted to be awarded a Trees for Climate grant from the Avon Wildlife Trust, which enabled us to expand the orchard in January and February, as well as the avenue of fruit trees along the public footpath.

Volunteer Fran’s new night vision camera was also hidden in the garden, where it captured the first footage of some curious badgers.

March saw a lot of graft with unglamorous but essential jobs, like hedge planting and spreading around a few tonnes of horse manure… The badgers were busy too with their night-time activities. Mark also added some good quality festoon lights and ultra-low power bulbs up the drive, which were rigged in a way that won't hurt the trees. Not only do they provide essential light for walkers and visitors, they look utterly gorgeous!

April so far has seen Innes and our wonderful volunteers battling a LOT of rain, wind and even hail over the last month. But that hasn't stopped some sterling work in the garden. A huge effort has been made to increase accessibility with a new footpath that leads through the woods from the lower end of the Rockaway drive, which has made a massive difference in reaching the garden with a lovely new walk. The sloping path at the top of the garden has also been levelled, while the public footpath that runs along the length of the garden has been redefined and made more sturdy with help from the Bristol Rambler volunteers, organised by the BANES Public Rights of Way Footpath Officer.

A slew of different vegetables have been planted and we now have some of the best dressed beds in the South West, which have been covered with a layer of wool in a trial to prevent damage from slugs, birds and other wildlife. The wool will also keep the plants hydrated and fed with nutrients as it breaks down.

With the warmer weather finally here after such a long wet Winter, we can’t wait to see what all the hard work of the last few months will produce!

If you’d like to visit the Community Forest Garden and see what we’ve been up to, please feel free to pop by. You’d be very welcome to sit and take in the views, or wander the paths and explore all the different areas of natural beauty.

If you'd like to get involved and help the Community Forest Garden continue to grow, just get in touch via the button on the garden page under the volunteer section. There's a delicious vegan lunch on offer as a thank you for your time. It's also a great opportunity to work with a lovely group of people in a beautiful green space while reaping the physical and mental health benefits.

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