Now we're starting to leave the cold and snowy weather behind, the world is waking up and the signs of spring are all around us!
The daffodils and hyacinths have come up. The fruit trees are blossoming. Squirrels are scampering around happily through the branches again. The sycamore helicopter seeds that spiralled their way to the ground last Autumn are attempting to become new trees, and a very insistent raven has been informing our gardener Henry that it intends to raise its children in the Community Forest Garden...
As the Spring makes its changes to the garden, we also make our own:
Even more of the brambles tangle has been cut back.
New fruit trees line the public footpath for everyone to enjoy once they bear fruit.
The raspberry bushes have been pruned and weeded.
The fruit trees have been mulched or planted with companion plants to keep weeds from their bases.
Our new rhubarb crown is ensconced in a dark hidey hole to help it to grow tall and tender.
The final section of the land covered for our wildflower meadow has been uncovered and partially de-rooted ready for planting and the first vegetables of the season have gone into the ground.
There's so many things to get stuck into on our volunteer day. Whether you're up for manual tasks, like weeding the slope, digging out bramble roots or levelling the new paths, or you'd like a more gentle activity, such as planting seedlings, tending the terraced beds or flowerpots around the yard - there's something for everyone!
If you'd just like to sit and enjoy the garden, I highly encourage you to do that whenever you're in the area. If you haven't discovered the swing at the top yet, it's a beautiful and relaxing spot to take in the whole garden, as well as the amazing view across the fields.
Henry and I were also proud to represent Rockaway with a stall at Timsbury Annual Seed Swap, Potato Day & Green Fair last weekend. Mark and Marta joined us later in the afternoon and were able to choose some new seeds for the garden, alongside herbs and fruit bushes. It was great connecting with so many people from the local gardening community; seeing what everyone has been up to, and telling them all about Rockaway and our garden projects. We also have some new people on our volunteer mailing list who I hope will be joining us soon.
Everyone we spoke to was very enthusiastic about what we're doing here and had either been to Rockaway before and loved it, or were very interested in coming and checking it out, whether to help in the garden or just enjoy a Sunday roast and experience the Rockaway market.
We had several promises of donations, like unwanted spare equipment, excess cuttings and seeds, as well as a lot of recommendations about organisations to connect with who have a similar ethos to Rockaway to help us achieve our growing and sustainability goals. I especially enjoyed chatting to Helen Gray, who gave a talk on plant-based first aid. She also gave me some book recommendations for growing a medicinal plant/first aid bed at Rockaway which I'm really excited about!
If any of you are passionate about a certain area of gardening and want to help on a specific project or you have cuttings, seeds or unwanted equipment to donate, just let me know. We would be very happy to receive and utilise anything we can!
Finally this week, I'm happy to inform you that our new fundraising page for the Community Forest Garden is up and running!
Now the first stage of the project is complete, we're ready to manifest Stage 2, which involves the following:
Create additional terraced beds to encourage a wider range of pollinators.
Create 2 ponds for spawning toads to help the local population thrive.
Extend the water irrigation system to the lower part of the garden, using rainwater collected from the Rockaway yard.
Create more wheelchair-accessible pathways.
Create and surface a level entrance and parking area for visitors with mobility issues to increase accessibility.
Create community compost bins and a community plant/seed exchange.
Create an art trail for visitors and school/community groups consisting of sculptures, soundscapes, living works and interactive areas, like chamomile seating in a new herb garden.
For all the details, including the full story of how the Community Forest Garden began, plus pics, videos and our reward scheme, you can visit our new GoFundMe page below:
Thanks for all your support and I hope to see you in the garden soon!