We had a successful and beautiful morning in the park doing a litter pick first thing and then tending the beds around the newly manicured Bay Tree. Today is Halloween the ancient Celtic pagan festival of Samhain" (pronounced Sow-in) which comes from the Old Irish for "summer's end". Halloween is also linked with the Roman feast of Pomona who as the goddess of fruits and seeds is appropriate to today's activities. The Christianised Halloween was originally a festival when the recently departed souls who had not yet reached heaven were prayed for. This diversity of meanings, origins and derivatives captures the LEAP spirit well and underlines the fact that the People's Park draws all of the community together. We welcomed a new person to the group today and got quite a bit done in the park, planting white onions for the people to eat and a sedum for the pollinators and those invertebrates that then feed our increasing bird population. Here is a collection of pictures taken in the park earlier today showing how nature encroaches upon Kidderminster town centre through the wildlife corridor that links St George's Park to Baxter Gardens Park via the churchyard all of which are of course also LEAP sites. Have a Great Halloween!
One of the regular partnerships between FoSGP and a planting team from St George's CE Primary School today made short work of replanting the (more or less) Triangular Bed by the paddling pool. The joint efforts of this very effective team planted 500 blue, 250 white polyanthus plants and 100 red tulip bulbs in just a couple of hours and still had time for a Let's Eat the Park walk - and also to use up their remaining energy playing in the fallen leaves, enjoying the park and just being outdoors on a sunny Autumn day. Here are a few pictures of both work and playtime with a special thanks to all the children and staff that took part this afternoon.
A very productive day today for the LEAP team in St George's Park finishing off the meadow preparation and Yellow Rattle sowing and preparing the triangular bed for planting later this week by children from St George's Primary School.
READ MORE on green tomatoes including a chutney recipe on the Let's Eat the Park page above - or at this link http://stgeorgespark.weebly.com/lets-eat-the-park-leap
A work party will be meeting at the shelter in St George's Park from 10am this Saturday to continue the sowing of the top field meadow area with Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor) that was started by the team last weekend. This is an important part of meadow maintenance as the semi-parasitic plant suppresses grasses and stimulates bio-diversity.
Yellow rattle seed must be sown in the autumn as it needs prolonged chilling through the Winter to trigger its germination the following Spring. It is a very helpful addition to the urban meadow in St George's Park which has had a positive impact on the local ecology demonstrated by the abundance of invertebrates and our burgeoning bird population (as described on our Wildlife Page above).
Yellow Rattle hasn't always been so popular because it can reduce hay yields by up to fifty per cent and in that sense was traditionally seen as a pest by farmers.
However, to urban green space gardeners like us ,it is valued for the very qualities it was once condemned for. By gaining nutrients from the roots of grasses holding back growth, yellow rattle allows wild flowers to thrive in greater abundance and diversity.
Yellow rattle gets its name in part from the seeds rattling in dry pods (as pictured above) and in part from its vibrant yellow blue tipped flowers in June and July. The FoSGP volunteers will be preparing the meadow and sowing the second lot of yellow rattle at this work party.
Previous sowing had not been successful which is one of the characteristics of yellow rattle, it often disappoints in the first year but we are hopeful that by resowing this autumn it will establish itself more readily. Yellow rattle has many colloquial and traditional names – these include Gowk’s shilling in Scotland or gowk’s sixpence and hen pennies in Northumberland (a “Gowk” is a cuckoo).
In English folklore it is also known as pepper-box, cocks comb and various other local names.
If you are interested in meadow maintenance, community gardening and local voluntary action that is resident-led and organic, come along and meet up with us. You can spot us in the park in our high viz vests (we'll be mostly on the top field this week) so please do come and say hello and if you would like to make the park more edible for the entire food chain check out Let's Eat the Park - community action money can't buy!
Gloves, tools and free refreshments are as ever available - hope to see you there.
It was not the best first summer for LEAP this year weatherwise - especially for our evergreen tomato crop, but despite that we have had some real successes. The courgettes, herbs, runner beans, red onions and occupants of the Three Sister's Bed have all done well and provided plentiful free nutritious food for a significant number of people. We know this from the feedback we receive - mostly at work parties, but also at our free community events when people often tell us what produce they have picked from various LEAP sites in the area.
We have also learned some lessons that have given us a few things to think about as we plan the way ahead. This year's fruit tree order for St George's and Baxter Gardens Parks and their LEAP sites was sent to our WFDC partners this week. The council's positive and permissive attitude has from the earliest days given Let's Eat the Park a powerful voice in both parks that lie within the funded area. WFDC Parks Department is of course our primary partner in developing some of the green spaces we volunteer in and in that sense Let's Eat the Park is a prototype of co-production in the Wyre Forest district. We have discussed this topic earlier in the year in a post on the LEAP blog
This pioneering work we regard as a secondary success to the primary aim of LEAP to address food poverty, have positive health impacts by making participating parks focal points for community cohesion while using our green spaces more productively and sustainably at the same time. A win-win situation.
The project has already secured sufficient funding to look forward with confidence to the coming Winter period and year ahead. Further funding through our primary LEAP funders, the People's Health Trust, Health Thrive and other funding sources guarantee the viability not only of LEAP but of the other children's and families events the Friends of St George's Park have established as local institutions on the Horsefair/Greenhill patch. The annual St George's Day Family Fun & Discovery event in April and our fourth KidFest in August 2016 are both now at the planning stage. We always welcome new volunteers to help us make these award winning events even more successful and welcome collaboration with all who share our values and who are committed to FREE community based activities, including participating in the free food network, work parties and so on.
Over the past year we have developed closer links with Kidderminster Transition movement and the wider environmental protection/sustainability community in the area and beyond. These connections have resulted in the Friends participating in the Green Fair at the Boar's Head last month and also being involved again providing a LEAP stall at the second Greener Living Show at Kidderminster Town Hall on 30 January 2016. This is another collaboration with WFDC, Transition and The Big School Birdwatch, look out for more details on our Whats' On page nearer the date.
In the meantime we will be having our annual Christmas Carols in the Park on Friday 11 December, which is a now longstanding collaboration with our partners and close neighbours at St George's Church which, as many will already know - has its own LEAP site in the churchyard.
Ever closer links are being developed with Kidderminster and District Youth Trust who kindly provide the Friends group with meeting facilities at the Youth House where the latest LEAP site is currently being discussed between our two organisations. This will be our first LEAP site on the other side of the ring road from St George's Park, in the town centre where we will be working with KDYT to develop a food crop in the grounds of their site in Bromsgrove Street.
Beyond the immediate area delegates from FoSGP will be attending the AGM of Sandwell Community Service Volunteers in November. We have also recently established a working relationship with the Black Country Foundation Partnership NHS Trust's new Recovery College in Oldbury, an innovative initiative in co-production and co-delivery of training and support for people involved with mental health services across the borough of Sandwell. We hope to contribute our experience of LEAP and other fundraising and organising experiences to the enhance the curriculum of the Recovery College, with a particular focus on community gardening and are pleased to announce this new and exciting collaboration beyond the geographical boundaries of Let's Eat the Park and indeed further afield than the Wyre Forest district or the county of Worcestershire itself.
So, if you have energy, enthusiasm or just curiosity about how a community volunteer group brings about changes in a hard pressed locality by their own efforts and how we also forge links with significant individuals and organisations to make these ideas a reality get in touch with us via the comments on the website below, by email, via the LEAP blog or through our social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and Streetlife.
Friends of St George's Park
We are an active community group that is committed to working with others in order to further develop and improve St George's Park in Kidderminster for all of the community to enjoy.
Tell people about us
We welcome different ideas and opinions on how to improve our park and we hope you will share yours with us. Please remember this is a community based website and whilst we will not censor different opinions we will remove any posts that are offensive or abusive.