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The Lockdown Blog

Even though the trees are coming into leaf and the orchard is in blossom, we have had to postpone our open day (which would have been in 10 days time) due to the COVID-19 virus.  Just think how good the field will look when we can have our day.

Sarah measured the circuit and it is almost exactly 300m and it’s wonderful to see how many people take their daily exercise on the field.

We might not be able to have our fun day out together, but we have been doing a fair bit to keep the project on track.

  • Our butterfly expert, Mike, has planted the mound with plants to attract particular butterflies;
  • Our ecologist Ashley has seeded the mound with a special chalk loving mix of native wild flowers;
  • We have fixed a lovely new water butt to the bike shelter, to take advantage of the little rain that falls in this region;
  • We will soon install a third dual waste bin at the back of the field to try to encourage more dog owners to pick up after their pet;
  • We are planting up the nectar garden with plants that will attract pollinators;
  • We are watering all the newly planted trees to give them the best chance of thriving;
  • We are creating a wood pile at the rear of the field – this will eventually be fenced off to provide habitat for mammals;
  • We have been checking the pond for amphibians  – so far without success;
  • As soon as we can, we will bring some more soil in for the swale, and we will get the 2 sections of gravel path done.  Who knows – the pavement from the Elms Close corner to the entrance might even be completed too – we do at least have 2 telegraph poles up, but Openreach can’t complete the wiring.

Spring is in the air…

There is a definite whiff of spring in the air!  Many of our young trees are showing signs of blossom and planning for our open day on Sunday April 26th is well underway.

We know that there is a risk we might have to postpone due to the Covid-19 virus, but we are going ahead with planning.  It is after all, an open air event, and we reckon that everyone will be ready to come and have some fun in the fresh air by then!

So, what have we been doing?  Our butterfly expert has done some planting on the mound and we have added lots of bee loving plants to the nectar garden.

We remain hopeful that the Elms Close entrance and pathway will be completed by the open day – who would have thought that a few yards of tarmac would prove so difficult to complete?

The dipping deck gate is now constructed and sitting in a garage somewhere in Duxford – it will be in place soon!

We have a great line up for the open day, with music, food, drink and games.  The new community centre car park will be available and hopefully the weather will be kind.

We are still hoping to have a junior skate ramp, shelter and graffiti wall on site before yet another year has passed – we need your support to get these facilities in place!

Let’s make this brilliant!

We’ve done so well and made such progress, but now we need another £10,000 to finish the job and make Brewery Field truly a place that everyone can enjoy.

First, we need to complete 2 sections of the gravel path to connect with the circular path;  one from the Elms Close entrance and the other from the decking under the rain/sun shelter adjacent to the pond.  This will enable the less mobile among us to enjoy all areas of the site.  We need around £2,500 to complete these 2 sections.

Secondly, we want to bring drinking water on site, so that visitors can fill their reusable bottles and to help keep Brewery Field plastics free into the future.  Cambridge water have quoted just under £5,000 to connect the field to the mains, but we need another £1,500 to lay the pipes on site.

We are applying for funding for these 2 jobs, but if you could get friends to join as members and do all your shopping on line using the easyfundraising links, we could raise quite a lot ourselves.  Please don’t underestimate the importance of these small ways to add to our coffers.  Please ask your friends to sign up and always shop on line using our link!  Thank you.

 

The Orchard is Planted!

Today the orchard trees arrived and with the help of a few very determined volunteers, we managed to get them planted just as the sun was setting.  We put in apples, pears, gages and plums, some of them of a really good size, so it shouldn’t be too long until Duxford has its own apple days.

The remaining planting will take place in the coming weeks and is mainly small bare rooted saplings that will go in around the mound and some plants for the nectar garden.  We will put out another call for volunteers and try to make it on a weekend this time.

The Swale (the dip next to the pond) has been lined with plastic and will hopefully be topped up in the coming weeks to cover the edges of the liner.   This will create a wet/dry area which should attract some interesting flora.

Today we saw a whole troupe of peewits, heard our large flock of sparrows and saw signs of a hedgehog!  As we add to the planting, we will attract more and more wildlife and the Chair of the Cambs & Essex Branch of Butterfly Conservation is advising us on how to attract as many different butterflies as possible.

Tree Planting Week

It’s been a busy few weeks and we managed to get most of the free trees planted on Tuesday 19th November, with the help of a determined group of volunteers – thanks so much to all of you!

We have a some alder and hornbeam remaining and these will go in on either Brewery Field or elsewhere around the village – if you know a good spot for a tree, let us know!

Thanks to a generous neighbour in Trumpington, we were given a number of free box plants that were quickly transplanted into the nectar garden.

The children at the school planted trees during their Well-being Day on 29th November.  Many thanks to the school Head, to our 3 experts Emma, Sarah and Ashley for leading the activities, and of course to all the junior Eco-warriers – hopefully your trees will thrive and grow as you do!

On Monday 2nd December, the bigger trees arrived from our supplier.  We were lucky enough to have volunteers from local company SMT and with their help and Sarah’s direction, we got all the large trees planted.  It was a beautiful but chilly morning, but digging the holes warmed us up in no time!  What a difference these trees make to the look of the field!  Thanks so much to SMT and to everyone who generously gave their time and very strenuous effort!

Over the day, we were lucky enough to be watched over by a pair of red kites, to be entertained by an ice-skating pied wagtail on the pond, and to hear a concert from a large and very vocal group of sparrows.  At the end of the day there was a troupe of long-tailed tits feeding and making their way along the hedgerow bordering Hunts road – Brewery Field is already a wildlife paradise!

Our next planting day is Wednesday 4th December, when we will be planting the bare root shrubs and plants including the hazels.  Bare root plants have to go in as soon as possible to give them the best chance of survival, but we may have some left to plant at the weekend (7/8 December), so if you are interested and can help, click the contact us tab, or send an email to:  info@friendsofduxfordgreenspaces.org

 

 

Autumn Update – trees and otters!

First off, apologies for the lack of progress reports recently.  When almost complete, work on the structure came to a halt in October, due partly to lack of funds but also to the inclement weather.  The much-needed rain wet the mound so much that we could not safely bring a digger onto it to shape it, so this will be done as soon as weather allows.

The pond will remain within its temporary orange fencing, until either the plants have grown up around it, or a more permanent solution can be financed.  However, the connecting path between the gravel path and the rainwater harvesting shelter will soon be added, as will a safety barrier to the dipping deck.

We have 100 bare root trees (small whips) arriving on the 18th November, and will be looking for some willing hands with a spade to plant these during that week.  No digging of large holes will be needed, just a slot within which the whip is placed and closed up.  Do get in touch (email info@friendsofduxfordgreenspaces.org) or check the Facebook page (Duxfordgreen) for when we will be on site if you have a spade and can help.

Bigger trees and shrubs have been ordered and will arrive in early December and will be planted the same week.  There are also 6 more memorial trees that will be planted in the coming weeks.

Some excellent news that is not Brewery Field related – our young naturalist who put the bat boxes up on the Biggen has confirmed that they are definitely being used and also that there are definite signs of otter on site.  She is going to install a wildlife camera and report back – very exciting!

July update – big changes coming soon!

  • The field was mown in time for the 12/13th July airshow and a collection was taken on the Saturday, netting £110 for FODGS. Unfortunately it was not possible to make a collection on the Sunday, but the new flyer was handed out. Airshow viewers expressed their thanks and appreciation for the grass cutting and the accessible entrances and were unanimously in favour of the project – though a few requested that no tall trees be planted on the northern boundary.

  • We will ensure the field is at least partially accessible for the 21/22 September airshow.

  • We now have the facility to collect donations by SMS and add gift aid if eligible:

    To donate £3, text FODGS01 to 70331
    To donate £5, text FODGS01 to 70970
    To donate £10, text FODGS01 to 70191

  • Our landscaper, Hortiservices, will begin work on the structure of the site on the 12th August, weather permitting.  Keep an eye on the Facebook page (search for Duxfordgreen) for progress reports and opportunities to volunteer.

  • The whole field has been mown, sincere thanks to Ashley, our botanical expert and farmer for his advice and generosity in cutting the field at no charge this year. Marker sticks on site (painted red) will mark out the design and should be left in place to facilitate the grass cutting.  During mowing, we discovered – and preserved – a pyramid orchid and some marbled white butterflies – many crickets and grasshoppers were also in evidence.

  • We hope to hold a launch event in May or June next year. Any ideas or proposals for crafts, stalls or generally green activities would be very welcome.

  • We are still looking for anyone who has a camera drone and would be willing to take regular photos as work progresses – we want to collect time-lapse photos of the site, both during the landscaping and over the subsequent 2 or 3 years as the site matures through the different seasons. Please get in touch if you can help.

  • Highways have now agreed that we can connect the pavement on the corner of Elms Close to the nearby pedestrian entrance. The Parish Council is currently seeking quotes for the work, which includes building a small retaining wall to ensure the stability of the adjacent fence and the telegraph pole which cannot be moved.

  • Do please encourage your friends and neighbours to join. We will be distributing a flyer with the September Chatterbox and we are hoping that more people will take up membership when they see that work is underway.

  • Please use easyfundraising to do your on-line shopping – it’s easy and costs nothing – switching utilities (including broadband), travel and hotels are all particularly lucrative.
    Do encourage your friends and family to use it by sharing the flyers or by following the link:
    https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/duxfordgreen/

June update

  • The Annual General Meeting for all FODGS members was held on 20th June. We also invited those who have expressed an interest in helping the Brewery Field project, whether or not members of FODGS.

  • Minutes of the meeting and attached papers can be found here https://friendsofduxfordgreenspaces.org/agendas-and-minutes/

  • Work on the structure of the site will begin end of July/ beginning August, to allow planting to take place in the autumn. Keep an eye on the Facebook page (search for Duxfordgreen) for progress reports and opportunities to volunteer.

  • The field will be mown once more to cut the false oat grass before it sets seed – this will give the wild flowers a chance to come through. Many thanks to Ashley Arbon our botanical expert and farmer for his advice and offer to cut the field at no charge this year. There are marker sticks on site (painted red), please leave these in place to facilitate the grass cutting.

  • We hope to hold an opening event in May or June next year. Any ideas for crafts, stalls or activities would be very welcome.

  • Duxford Parish Council has some remaining art money to spend – we will soon be launching a competition among local artists and artisans to submit their proposals.

  • We would like to collect time-lapse photos of the site, both during the landscaping and over the subsequent 2 or 3 years as the site matures through the different seasons. We will take shots anyway from various viewpoints, but if anyone has a camera drone and would be willing to take regular photos as work progresses, please get in touch!

Entrances are done!

The entrances are done and look great – we will shortly adjust the gates so that they don’t open outwards and will plant some more hedging.

We’ll also add a post at the Elms Close end – at the moment there remains a big gap next to the gate. Sadly, we haven’t been able to connect the Elms Close corner footpath to this entrance, as there was a risk of de-stabilising the adjacent telegraph pole and fencing. We hope to do this in the future.

If you are wondering why the maintenance vehicle entrance gate isn’t set back into the field, this was a specific instruction from Highways, who said there must be no possibility that the space will be used by school traffic.

The vehicle entrance will remain secured, with keys held only by the appointed contractors and Duxford Parish Council.  Additional hedging will be planted where there are gaps.

The spoils from the digging out have been moved to the area of the proposed habitat mound.

Construction of paths and further landscaping will only commence towards the end of July, so although there are now safer entrances onto the field, please note that there will be no connecting paths for a while yet.

 

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Finally!  We have had the nod from Highways that the construction of the entrances can begin, and our appointed construction company has confirmed that these should be completed by the end of April/ first week in May.