Eco-Group Gathering in York April 22
Last week a few of us, joined the York Circuit eco-task group for an evening at Acomb Methodist. Kath Musgrove, who is a garden manager at Harlow Carr, but also wonderfully a member of Acomb church, gave us a tour of the garden, and talked us through the story, from clearing 4 feet high brambles and scrub, to delivering now what is a beautiful community garden and quiet space. She explained the design, which is in quadrants, themed on playfulness, tranquil, colourful and fruitful, and she explained how as a church, they’d re-used, recycled and repurposed as they’d built and designed. Kath’s expertise is in the planting, and was able to both explain the choice of plants, not only for appearance, scent and sound, but their ability to support a wide range of wildlife. Fran and Louisa, explained how the garden development, and some of its additional features, such as nesting boxes, bug hotels, composting areas etc, were part of an overall move to seek Eco-church status for the church.
Following the tour, we had a talk by Becki, who works both for St Nicks, a church with a strong environmental agenda, but also the council environmental department, and she spoke about Green corridors.
There are four such corridors being developed in York, which aim to connect natural habitats, and pockets of green space, from the centre of York, and beyond to connect with national nature reserves outside (ie the Derwent valley nature reserve, Pocklington canal and Selby forest). Most of the corridors flow alongside waterways. One example, was supporting the Tansy beetle of which York is one of only a few native habitats, and how they were planting suitable plants, hedges and trees, to enable a passage from the river banks to flower meadows and beyond along the banks. What was exciting, was this wasn’t just about planting in existing corridors, but the importance of back gardens, window boxes, and planters in urban spaces, or unused land, to act as stepping stones to connect the larger areas together. So the church garden plays a secondary role in helping with that and your garden can too. Something as simple as creating a hole between garden fences to allow Hedgehogs to extend their foraging for example, or planting the right pollinators, to support bees. To this end they are shortly to launch a Wild York website, where each green area, no matter how small, can be mapped and logged, so when people can see how they become part of this network. Becki and here team are also enthusiastic about connecting all those who support, maintain and create these spaces, so that we can work cohesively together, share tools, ideas and support and their new website is going to facilitate some of that. The challenge they face, is not how to create these corridors, but often who owns each piece of land and encouraging people to work together.
Those gathered were a combination of church members, from several churches, as well as members of the public with a passion to see this change. The present group is focussed in York, but we’d love to create similar stepping stones, of community groups and activists across our Kairos patch. Kairos doesn’t lead this group, as it had already been formed, so we are simply getting involved in it, but other areas may lack such a group. Maybe some of us might be the catalyst to form one, and we can help connect the groups together!