Author Archives: Drip

Volunteering Saturday 14th March 2020

Here is Jonathan’s message, with predictive text error, can you spot it?

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Saturday, March 14th, starting at 10.00am on the dot please, or as close
as humanly possible, else it make the job of task allegation that little
bit more challenging than it needs to be, and finishing at 1.00pm.

On the agenda for this occasion…

* Building a new willow dome in the playground.
The willow domes in the Orchard we built for playing in have proven to be
a great success with children of all ages – *ahem*; *gazes boyishly into
the middle distance* –  so we are trying another one in the playground.
They involve stems of willow which root easily in wet ground and create a
living structure. It has been noted they are both “totes cute” and
“awesome for hide and seek.”

* Continuing to retrieve mulch from Abraham Heights for protecting our
hedge saplings.

* Moving the brash at the edge of the Hay meadow for future burning.

And that’s all for now thank you,
Best wishes,

Volunteering session Saturday February 8th 2020

Here is Jonathan’s message

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Saturday, February 8th, starting at 10.00am and finishing at 1.00pm or

The To Do list for this occasion reads a little like this:

* In Flora Field mark out the beetle bank and margin boundaries with stakes.

* Renew the protective fences around the Flora Field manholes.
These jobs are in preparation for the ploughing of Flora Field so that the
tractor driver has clear boundaries. Some margins (the birdseed ones) are
ploughed and re-seeded each year, the bee-friendly margins have perennial
wildflowers and seed themselves; the beetle banks have to be clear; and
the three manholes along the water main which crosses the field need
protective fencing using our hazel and willow rods and withies.

* Coppice the elm forming part of the hedge in Little Wood. You may be
surprised to hear that there are three elms in Little Wood. As two of them
are now getting quite big and more susceptible to Dutch Elm Disease we are
advised to coppice the third to increase its vigour and immunity

* Reinforce one or two weak points in the Flora Field hedge using hazel
rods and hazel / willow withies.

* Block the second drain exit from West Field.

*And that’s it.

Best wishes,

Volunteering session Saturday 11th January 2020

Here is Jonathan’s email

Hello All,

And a very Happy New Year to you!
I trust this message finds you suitably refreshed and invigorated because
there will be a volunteer session in Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora
this Saturday morning, January 11th, between 10.00am and 1.00pm.

On the agenda for this occasion:

Tidying in the Orchard. This will include cutting back self-seeding and
rooting suckers and pruning the brambles, especially in the Old Damson
The Orchard is quite heavily planted and this includes patches of nettle,
bramble and other understorey scrub. But to protect our fine standard
trees, such as the two lovely oaks, we need to keep the scrub in its place
and proportion.

Digging out, transporting and planting ferns from Upper Sowerholme to Pony

Weeding the 2018 and 2019 hedge saplings alongside the Pony Wood path.

Finally, let’s turn our thoughts to eating and drinking.
All Fairfield volunteers, in whatever capacity you contribute, are invited
to the annual Volunteers’ Buffet at the Storey on Thursday 30th January
from 7pm to 9pm. Partners, of course, are very welcome. The cost is £10
per person. Please let either Ian Procter ( or Sue
Nieduszynski ( know if you are coming.

Best wishes,

Volunteer Session Saturday 14th December 2019

Here is Jonathan’s email

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora
this Saturday, December 14th, commencing at 10.00am and finishing at

There are two tasks for this occasion, both with a strong ‘hedge
sapling’ theme…

* To continue and hopefully conclude the planting of this year’s batch
of hedge saplings from the Woodlands Trust. We received 1375 saplings
and the Wednesday Group have made a start but there is still lots to do.
Bring a spade if you can!

* To check out the hedge saplings we planted last year to strengthen
fallen canes / protectors and remove the worst of weed growth.

And now for news of a development regarding the contents of these very
volunteer emails.
At its last meeting of the Fauna, Flora and Orchard Group (snappily
shortened in this Age of Abbreviations to FFOG) it was agreed that the
‘volunteer session notification’ emails should include some explanation
of *why* we will be performing that month’s key task.

But before we discuss why we value our hedges as much as we do, let’s
first get the Explanation Ball rolling with a few words about ‘FFOG’

The tasks undertaken by you, the volunteer, are agreed at a bi-monthly
Fauna, Flora and Orchard Group meeting, the Fairfield Association’s
management meeting for the Nature Reserve.
FFOG is an open meeting and members are very much encouraged to attend.
Meeting minutes can be found at
To find out where and when FFOG meets please use the email option for
the Chair of the Association at

So why Fairfield’s commitment to hedge planting?

It is widely recognised that hedgerows are a vital resource for
wildlife, providing food, shelter and channels of communication for
birds, mammals and invertebrates. They also provide shade, containment
for livestock and act as windbreaks.
The Woodland Trust believes “around 118,000 miles of hedgerows have
disappeared since 1950,” as a consequence of the intensification of
agriculture. Its ‘position statement’ on hedges and hedgerows can be
found here:

As recommended by two of our expert advisers, the Fairfield Association
continues to extend the hedgerows on the Nature Reserve. We are assisted
in this by participating in the Woodland Trust’s ‘moreHEDGES’ scheme by
which we purchase hedge and tree saplings at greatly reduced cost.
Hence, this month we are planting 1375 saplings at various locations
both extending hedgerows and infilling gaps.

And that’s quite enough from me for now, except to wish you a happy and
restorative festive season,

Volunteering Saturday 9th November 2019

Here is Jonathan’s message

Hello All,

There will be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora
this Saturday, November 9th, starting at 10.00am and finishing at 1.00pm
or thereabouts.

If you’re able to attend you can look forward to the following…

* We will start with the annual review of first aid equipment and
arrangements for volunteering sessions.
* We will be trimming the hedge around the electricity sub-station
adjacent to the playground.
* We will test the cleaning material we have acquired to clean mould from
the marquee canvas.
* We continue with the laying of the hedge between the Pads footpath and
the former NACRO section of Flora Field.
* And last but not least, we continue the trimming of the hedge between
the Pads footpath and West Field.

It’s all going on!

Best wishes,

Volunteer session 12th October 2019

I was away this week and didn’t get the chance to post Jonathan’s message. Here is what we actually did:

The monthly Saturday morning work session attracted 11 volunteers on a bright morning. The session was curtailed as the volunteers joined other Fairfield well-wishers for the official opening of the Pony Wood path at 12 noon.

Before then we

  • Sowed a wildflower mix gathered from the Reserve and other local areas over the summer in the wildflower bed at Howson’s gate.
  • The seed included some gathered from the purple-ramping fumitory discovered in the Flora Field margin. Three patches of this seed were sown at the Eastern boundary of the wildflower patch.
  • We had some of the bee-friendly seed mix left over so this was sown in the Southern margin of Flora Field.
  • A start was made trimming the Pads footpath / Flora Field hedge.
  • The table and refreshment were barrowed to the top of the Pony Wood path where the opening event was to take place. Notices were posted and after the event everything was carted back!