Thursday, 20 February 2014

AGM 2014 - Plans for the coming year

On Monday 17 February, we descended, like the darkness, upon the Wellesley Arms, Sutton Benger for our annual general meeting. As well as catching up with each other, we get down to the serious business of looking at what we've achieved over the past year and what we'd like to achieve in the coming year.

Some of our achievements over the last year included starting this blog and starting to formally record the flora and fauna of the site; as well as the important work of managing our grassland.

We have some exciting ideas for the coming year, some practical and some administrative.
Some of the practical ideas include:
March - Our snowdrops are very successful, but some are hidden from sight. So it was raised that we could transplant some of them so that they can be seen from the road and, hopefully, will draw people into the churchyard. Our bluebells haven't been so successful. It's thought that squirrels may be eating the bulbs. So in addition to purchasing some local provenance bluebells; we're going to plant them underneath some chicken wire - in the hopes that this will prevent squirrels from being able to get at the bulbs.
April - In April, we're going to be testing the pH of our soil in various areas of the churchyard. We're going to be using three methods; the first being a pH meter, the second, pH strips, and the third method will be a soil testing kit and distilled water. It will be really exciting to see what the pH of the churchyard is - and whether it's consistent throughout the churchyard. This may also give us some clues are to why certain plants are more successful than others.
June -  June is our Birthday celebration! It'll be our 16th year and we'll be celebrating with cake and an invertebrate sample. We did a Birthday Bug Hunt last year and it was really successful, so I for one, am looking forward to it again.
Ongoing - recording the grass species on site. While we have a good idea of the grass species at the churchyard, we haven't formally recorded which grass species are present. Along with the ongoing management of the grassland through cutting regimes and grass collection, this will be an ongoing task.

Some of the administrative ideas are:
  • Making our Management Plan in to a Living Document. Our management plan is very good, but hasn't been updated since it was first put together. My hope is that if we treat the management plan as a living document it will reflect our current ideas and practices.
  • Creation of task specifications. These will be simple sheets that detail the individual tasks that we carry out at the churchyard, for example, raking. We'll also create task specifications for things that we'd love to have done, but don't have the time for. These additional tasks include 'Invertebrate Recorder' - so if you'd like to volunteer for that please get in touch. 
  • Resource and Activity Sheets. Our churchyard is a wonderful learning resource, so we'll try to create - or borrow - some resource sheets that will get kids and adults to be active visitors to our Living Churchyard.
As you can see, our AGM was a very productive and successful meeting. We all had some great ideas and it will be good to put them into action. All we have to hope for now, is that the weather will be on our side!

Volunteer with us
Our project is run solely by volunteers. We have lots of different tasks available for new volunteers - and we always have room for one more.
If you'd like to volunteer, please click here for dates, or see the column to the right for our location and when we meet.
Also, if you have any comments or ideas regarding our plans for the year - please let us know in the comments.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Guest Post: Volunteering At A Living Churchyard

I recently wrote a guest post for Rachel Bates at Ecology Escapades and today it's been published on her blog!

It's very exciting as it's my first guest post and I really appreciate it being published. I've written about volunteering at our churchyard and what this entails.

To read this post, pop along to Rachel's wonderful site:

Ecology Escapades: Volunteering At A Living Churchyard