Category Archives: Volunteering

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
thereabouts.

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,
Jonathan.

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
Copse.
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
Wood.

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 (sysaf123@gmail.com) or Sue
Nieduszynski (sue@nieduszynski.org) know if you are coming.

Best wishes,
Jonathan.

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
1.00pm.

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’
itself.

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
http://www.fairfieldassociation.org/support/meetings.html.
To find out where and when FFOG meets please use the email option for
the Chair of the Association at
http://www.fairfieldassociation.org/support/contactus.php

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:
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/1808/hedges-and-hedgerows-position-statement.pdf

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,
Jonathan.

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,
Jonathan.

Volunteering Saturday 14th September 2019

Here’s Jonathan’s message

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session in Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Saturday, September 14th, at the usual time of 10.00am until 1.00pm.

If you’re able to come along here’s how might expect to be spending the
morning…

Checking out and hopefully repairing the marquee.
Replacing broken fence posts in the Paddock.
Weeding the shed roof.
Trimming overhang along the Pads footpath.
Scything the nettles in Pony Wood.
Collecting and labelling samples of different varieties of apple for Apple
Day.
Clearing vegetation around Anna’s Stone.

And that’s about it for this time,
Best wishes,
Jonathan.

Volunteer session Saturday 10th August 2019

Here is Jonathan’s message

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Saturday morning, August 10th, starting all fresh and lovely at 10.00am
and finishing a little fragrantly challenged at 1.00pm or thereabouts.

On the agenda for this occasion:

* Continuing the summer pruning and thinning of the Orchard fruit trees.
* Scything thistles, nettles and soft rush. The latter has to be cleared
so in addition to scythers we’ll also need clearer uppers.
* Trimming around the new saplings on the Pony Wood path.
* Trimming back overhang over the Orchard paths and benches.

Two other points requiring your attention:

* From Tuesday August 13th the Scything Group will be scything soft rush
in our wet pastures. This needs to be cleared after cutting to reduce
fertility. So our scythers need support if you can come from 7pm meeting
at the shed.

* Our volunteer sessions always have a trained first aider present.
Recently some of our first aiders have had to ‘retire’ for various good
reasons. So we are looking for either volunteers with existing first aid
qualification or people who are willing to take a training course. The
Association will pay for this training. Please contact Ian if either of
these apply, his contact details being: sysay123@gmail.com or 07811 970
595.

Best wishes,
Jonathan.

Volunteer session Saturday 13th July 2019

Here is Jonathan’s message

Greetings All,

There’ll be a volunteer session at Fairfield Orchard, Flora and Fauna on
Saturday, July 13th, starting at 10.00am and finishing at 1.00pm or
thereabouts.

On the agenda for this occasion:

To improve the path under the double gates entering Carr House Meadow. We
need to excavate here to allow the gate to close and to clear out nettles
which obstruct the gate. Then we will put down a geotex lining and
back-fill with gravel saved from last winter’s path improvements.

The hedge running alongside the Fauna path needs trimming back.

We need to dig some ragwort out of Big Meadow.

And that’s it.
Best wishes,
Jonathan.

Volunteering session Saturday 11th May 2019

Here is Jonathan’s message, better late than never

Hello All,

There’ll be a volunteer session in Fairfield Orchard, Fauna and Flora this
Saturday the eleventh in the merry month of May, starting at 10.00am and
finishing at 1.00pm.

On the To Do list for this occasion…

* We have quite a lot of broken fence posts which need replacing.
* There are overhanging trees and bushes near the Cromwell Road entrance
which need cutting back.
* Several gates are impeded by growing vegetation which needs clearing.
* Our gate locks need cleaning and oiling.
* The excess gravel left by the contractors at the gates of the Flora
Field needs bagging up and stacking.
* Checking that the cow parsley is not overhanging the Pads footpath.

And that’s about it for this time,
Best wishes,
Jonathan.

Snipe! and other birds, Flora Field, 20 March 2019

Walking across Flora Field (arable section) this morning during the volunteering session I flushed a large group of snipe (at least 6, probably 8-10) from the lower northern slope, towards Lower Sowerholme, and then a further 2 nearer Pony Wood. They must have been tucking into small creatures in the recently-spread manure. I was headed for the beetle banks and the water supply points, which needed marking with tape to alert the ploughing contractor, so I certainly didn’t cover the whole field. Maybe next season the flush count needs to include Flora Field as well as the wet areas, at least after the muck has been spread?

It was a very misty morning with low cloud and low visibility, but we heard geese passing over – greylag I think- and several curlews in the distance, down towards the estuary.