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Wild Acres Community Project 2023 Summary by Director Vicky Boroughs – 5 February 2024
2023 was another great year at Wild Acres. After a short break for holiday festivities, we were back to it on Jan 3rd. We achieved so much this year, working in all weather – sweltering heat, freezing cold and rain. The land is completely transformed to have more growing areas and produce more veg and fruit. Most of it is eaten at community sessions and events but we also stored, frozen, pickled and preserved. We also regularly donated to the cart in Dursley and are exploring other ways to donate our excess produce this year such as local food banks.
We now have a much-improved kitchen (and manifesto) complete with a fabulous painted sign above the sink, improvements to the loo identified in the independent access survey, improved drainage on the meadow (to be continued), a supply of willow for basket-making and other crafts, a hedge and orchard, owl and other bird boxes, a bee hive and so much more. We’re also developing a wildflower meadow.
Our community sessions on Tuesday and Thursday have also grown with over 30 people now active members. All are always very welcome. Tuesdays remain more popular with on average 9 people attending and 4 on Thursdays. Only 4 sessions were cancelled this year for good reason (of course!).
This year we have started our once-a-month Saturday session too, so that anyone who is at work during the week or has other commitments on a Tuesday and Thursday can attend. Come along from 10 am – 2.30 pm on the last Saturday of the month. Everyone enjoys the sense of achievement whether working on the land, constructing, repairing or improving structures or adding creative work to the site. At Wild Acres, there is a lovely sense of a friendly and supportive community.
Our days were enhanced by refugees living at the local hotel who became involved in undertaking a range of tasks, including building the raised beds in the aptly named Really Useful Garden. There have been so many memorable days this year and I know everyone will have their own but I personally loved a day in June when there were 4 of our friends from the hotel here cooking, working on a bike, sawing, strimming and digging and then lots of you planting tomato plants, picking fruit etc. It was a full and vibrant day. We always enjoy a healthy hot lunch but the catering went up a notch when they cooked! We learned so much from them about culture, respect and friendship and we miss them all.
In September our project was recognised as Finalists of the BBC Radio Gloucestershire Making a Difference awards who filmed and interviewed us for the Green Category. We were proud to attend the ceremony at Gloucester Cathedral. Take a look at us on this video on the BBC Make a Difference website, roughly 1:27min into the film.
A weekly Knitting Group was started in June where people came together on a Thursday afternoon to have a cuppa, cake and their own needle project (knitting, crochet, sewing etc). It was a great chance to learn new skills whilst sitting outside and enjoying the natural surroundings. It will be starting up again soon, and we will share the details.
This year Martin has been attending on behalf of Wild Acres, an Access to Nature course convened by Barnwood Trust and Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership. The course brought together professionals from across the sector including National Trust, Natural England and Westonbirt as well as many smaller organisations. We have looked at a range of access issues including site improvements, promotion and publicity and the specific needs of particular groups such as people with physical disabilities and those with issues relating to neurodiversity. We are hoping for further funding for improvements to the infrastructure.
Land developments 2023
- Planted plum trees, 10th.
- hedge planted, 12th & 19th.
- Raised beds in the greenhouse, 2nd
- 16th – Really Useful Garden beds dug and constructed.
- Sparrow boxes built.
- Laurels by art studio removed, skip filled and willow fence (Feb & march) – Community Payback
- Frames built for broad beans, 7th.
- A sign was erected outside the gate.
- Gates into meadow put up, 25th.
- Gazebo next to art studio erected, 1st.
- Bike rack made, 4th.
- Wildflowers picture put up, 9th.
- Bees arrived on, the 25th.
- A large planter was made and set up near the kitchen.
- New toilet sign
- Liquids (Laundry, washing-up)
- Kitchen renovations started with the crockery cupboard moved into the dining area; laying new floor, cupboards, sink, plumbing, electric and batteries cupboard moved, steps, ramp …. It all took over a month.
- Creative Sustainability youth group joined us and created a bug hotel (amongst other things) – 17th.
Events, workshops and courses in 2023
- Stall at Kingshill House, Sustainability Fair
- Permaculture course, Kingshill House x 2, foraging and mapping course
- The Creative Sustainability youth group joined us and created a bug hotel
- Off We Go, NHS funded – Wood carving and painting a Totem Pole
- Yoga and Art x 2
- Severn Vale Art Trail
- Plant Swap and Sale
- Climate Action Network met at WA
- Aurora Severnside School came twice
- Stall at Stroud Nature in the Park
- Holiday Activities and Food Programme (HAF) – Easter, Summer and Christmas
- The National Lottery Awards for All Community Fund for the funding of our Community Sessions. This year we are thrilled that we have successfully gained funding from Stroud District Council, and Gloucestershire County Council Thriving Communities Fund which will help us to offer an additional day as well as Saturdays (the last Sat of the month).
- Gloucester Community Foundation
- Gloucestershire Probation Community Payback
- And of course our wonderful community!
Looking forward to another year of growth in 2024!
Come along to our Community Days every Tuesday, Thursday and last Saturday of the month 10 am – 2.30 pm. More information on our Community Day Page.