Thank you to those who were able to attend the meeting on the 18th of May. This post is made from extensive notes from that meeting.
You can watch the last meeting which took place via zoom using this link
Passcode: Hd&VYSB1 This link will close 10th June.
Please join the mailing list https://mailchi.mp/62dc45612bfc/weston-tree-group to get involved.
Weston Tree and planting Group Meeting Notes – 18th May 2022
The meeting was opened by Cllr Dot Agassiz, who welcomed everyone and forwarded apologies from Annie Maw, Rosie Walker and Emily Burnell.
Cllr Agassiz proceeded to introduce the members of the panel, who would speak on various aspects of pollinator friendly planting in gardens, beds, allotments and planters along with community involvement in Weston.
Pete Lane of Weston College introduced his work at Butcombe Farm, which is a 40 acre learning experience for young people and adults who may have experienced barriers to getting on in life. It provides an alternative environment to learn and develop new skills and is a cross community project available to multiple schools and agencies. He informed us that the project is funded through Uncle Paul’s Chilli Charity https://chillicharity.org.uk which sells products from the chillis that they grow. Pete informed us that the site was still developing but includes opportunities through a forest school, outdoor learning, land studies, horticulture, conservation and tree planting. The emphasis is on food production, and they have 10 beehives on site.
Pete Lane also spoke about his experience of creating a garden for pollinators at their Locking Road campus and explained that process can take time, but as the garden has become more productive more and more pollinators are attracted to it.
Pete Lane recommended finding information on the Bristol City Council Wild Flower Meadows site https://www.bristol.gov.uk/museums-parks-sports-culture/meadow-bristol and subsequent to the meeting also suggested Frances Tophill’s book ‘Rewild Your Garden’. He concluded his presentation by inviting the meeting to visit Butcombe Farm and have a guided tour of the project.
Fay Powell Deputy Town Clerk for Weston-super-Mare Town Council explained how the volunteer programme for Weston In Bloom was rebuilt and rebranded as Love the Outdoors. She informed us that they are looking to reach a wider audience of volunteers of all ages and ability. The town council is looking to encourage people by partnering experienced gardeners with those with less experience and are also involving Weston College and corporate volunteering to engage more of the public with the council’s open spaces.
While there has been a pause in the council’s involvement with Weston In Bloom, they are aiming to bring schemes that involve sustainability and sustainable planting in 2023. Fay’s presentation then evolved into a discussion about the use of perennial plants in public planters and how to make the whole system more sustainable. This included engendering an understanding that plant beds and planters are for everyone and not the institutions that fund them.
There was also a suggestion to create sustainable tourism packages where people could visit W-s-M and volunteer to work in the community. The meeting was informed that Caroline Darlington, WSMTC Tourism Manager, is already working on a sustainable tourism package.
Johnny Boxshall introduced the meeting to Osprey Outdoors https://www.osprey-outdoors.co.uk/ which is an organisation based at Rector’s Way Allotments that engages people with the outdoors through a range of activities including gardening, walking, cycling and woodcraft. They aim to include everyone in their work, especially those who are missing out in society. The project is creating a permaculture project and they want to engage the public with allotments.
Sam Francis continued the Osprey Outdoors presentation by describing the sensory garden that they are creating at Rector’s Way. They are installing the structure of the garden and a pond over the summer and are aiming to involve all senses in the design, including the sixth sense – the spiritual. The scheme is a creative exploration with recycled and natural materials and will include outreach work with the community and WSMTC.
Sam’s presentation expanded into a discussion about the need for a register or coordinator to advertise and connect all similar groups in the town. And the meeting was informed that North Somerset Council (NSC) were undertaking a mapping exercise which will include all groups in the town. There will also be events through the SEE MONSTER event raising the profile of all groups in the town. There will also be events on the New Substance website https://seemonster.co.uk/latest/ and social media https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=2980129622305201
Steve Budd from the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust described his project to install a Sensory Garden on the Weston site. He talked about the need to raise £30,000.00 to get his project moving and asked if anyone had any information about designing gardens and what species to use. The meeting provided the following options:
Dr David Agassiz next informed us of his desire to bring some balance to the subject of pollinators and asked us to consider that while plant species such as Buddleia may be a nectar source for some insects, they are not a food source for many. Insects need plants that they are used to eating, because their mouth parts have not evolved to eat non-native plants. For this reason we should consider the many different insects, other than bees, that are pollinators and plant as many native species as possible. He also encouraged us to think about providing food and nectar sources all year round and plant with food source succession in mind.
The next item on the agenda was the Lord Lieutenant’s Jubilee Jaunt and Gloria Craig the Deputy Lieutenant passed on Annie Maws apologies for not be able to join us as she was completing the next of her jaunts that day. Gloria gave a report on how Annie Maws was joined by students of Weston College for the Weston leg of her Jubilee Jaunt and what a vibrant occasion it had been. She proceeded to inform the meeting about the great progress that the Queen’s Green Canopy project had made and let us know that Weston was second in the Somerset planting league!
Gloria Craig also encouraged us to prepare for our planting projects by applying for tree packs from the Woodland Trust, and said that she had been asked to identify a patch of land for a ‘Tiny Forest’ for which there might be funding available from Earth Watch https://earthwatch.org.uk/get-involved/tiny-forest. She also encouraged us to plot the trees we had planted on the QGC website: https://queensgreencanopy.org/map-education-hub/qgc-map/#/ and follow the project on social media via @queensgreencanopy.
Alex Stone from The Forest of Avon continued the subject of planting projects, informing the meeting that funding for tree planting was available through The Forest of Avon Trees for Climate Fund https://forestofavontrust.org/for-trees/trees-for-climate
Alex Stone told us that there is £1 million of funding for tree planting projects and that it is straight forward and easy to apply. The funding can be for any trees and can include planting and maintenance costs for up to 15 years. She warned us that the fund was based on a first come first served basis and that we should apply as soon as possible to ensure success.
The meeting was also informed that Cllr Crockford-Hawley had received a generous donation from our twin town of Hildesheim, and it was agreed that representatives of Hildesheim would be contacted at the Mayor Making Ceremony to thank them and discuss what species of tree they would like to be planted.
Steve Budd also informed the meeting of a possible collaboration with Weston Hospital and AWT for planting trees on their neighbouring sites. And James McCarthy provided an update on the planting of the SEE MONSTER plants at the Beach Lawns site and said that 6 of the larger Field maples would be planted in Clarence Park East.
Steve Clark added that there would be further tree planting to celebrate the Jubilee by the new Mayor Cllr Russe and that WSMTC were also aiming to support NSC street tree planting, of which more would be discussed later in the meeting.
Steve Clark spoke further about the Forest Research Canopy Cover Assessment project and identified that although North Somerset’s i-Tree Eco survey revealed that the average canopy cover in Weston is just 8.2%, the Canopy Cover Project showed that the canopy cover varies considerably from ward to ward:
- • Wick St Lawrence & St Georges – 3.2%
- • Milton – 5.0%
- • WsM South – 6.0%
- • Worle – 7.6%
- • Winterstoke – 8.0%
- • Kewstoke – 9.6%
- • Hutton & Locking – 15.4%
- • Uphill – 13.8%
- • Hillside – 35.5%.
He suggested that while this may be considered a disappointing place to start from, it could be considered that it would also mean that our efforts could be rewarded with significant improvements in canopy cover quite quickly.
The whole Forest Research Canopy Cover Map is available here: https://forestry.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewer/index.html?id=d8c253ab17e1412586d9774d1a09fa07
James McCarthy spoke next about street tree planting and informed the meeting that because NSC don’t have a tree planting budget the majority of trees that have been planted were funded by the Civic Society, Kier or Western Power Distribution, along with residents who funded commemorative tree planting. This is something that he is keen to improve on and he has started to identify roads where trees could be planted and has started carrying out service checks. Cllr Agassiz told James McCarthy about a Victorian street map which shows the location of street trees at that time and wondered if we could move to re-planting in those locations. This was something James McCarthy was interested in and it was agreed that the next meeting would be held in person, so that we could see the map.
Debbie Aptead then reported about her efforts to identify potential planting sites on industrial estates. She was surprised to find that there were more trees than she thought but found that there were plenty of potential planting sites. Locations have been noted, but help is required with identifying ownership and below ground services.
Debbie Aptead also introduced the concept of parklets, which is the idea of creating a mini park on your street https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/about-us/our-work-in-action/campaigning-for-parklets . Although the idea was originally for busy streets, Debbie Aptead did not see why it could not be applied to providing outdoor spaces for workers on industrial estates. There are a number of pre-constructed parklets available Wooden Parklets – Plantscape (plantscapeuk.com) and Meristem Design | Parklets and she has approached idverde to sponsor one.
The topic of tree planting on development sites was brought up, in relation to the developments on the old airfield site. Peter said that it was noticeable that early planning application drawings included a lot of tree planting, but this didn’t follow through to the actual development and he wondered why. James McCarthy explained the planning process and said that NSC were asking for more trees to be planted in new gardens and on new roads. However, he said that it was also possible that the approved landscaping schemes may just not have been implemented and it then became an enforcement issue.
The meeting then discussed the wider opportunities for planting in Weston and how to proceed with identifying planting sites. The creation of a volunteer day was suggested and after the meeting, James McCarthy and Steve Clark had a meeting to progress the possibility of WSMTC supporting NSC street tree planting and the prospect of holding a volunteer day to identify tree planting sites around the town. It has been agreed that we will hold a Volunteer Day on Friday July 8th 2022 – further details of this will follow.
Trees & Planning were briefly discussed. Cathy Lynch sent the following update to the meeting – I would like thankyou to the group for taking the time to look at the Tree and Woodland Policy. The next stage in the process is for The Local Plan to be submitted for independent examination. The Secretary of State will select an independent Planning Inspector to consider the plan.
Steve Clark will find out when we will have updates is happy to talk at a meeting when there is news. As you probably saw from the website The Local Plan covers a whole host of topics and is also hoping to produce a Supplementary Planning Guidance for trees on development sites to support the Trees and Woodland Policy.
The meeting drew to a close, initially with a query about why long grass was being cut and weeds being sprayed. James McCarthy reported that this situation was being discussed between colleagues and departments. Dr David Agassiz highlighted the conflict between rewilding and established formal planting and that nuanced management was required to facilitate both. George reported that she had stopped contractors mowing and spraying on her forest school site and as a result the children have identified 10 new wildflower species.
We next discussed the NSC Master Composter scheme. Becky Walsh reported that she had been in contact with Kate Eastment who shared that WSMTC and the group could support the project in the following ways:
- 1. Host a talk or workshop – using the museum would be ideal
- 2. Invite Master Composters to have an information stand at events
- 3. Help extend our reach by making introductions & sharing our posts
We’re looking for members of the public to:
- 1. Sign up to become a Master Composter (includes comprehensive training, Garden Organic membership and social events – in return for giving >30 hours over a year)
- 2. All of the above (sharing, inviting to events, hosting an activity)
To give you an idea of the range of activities the Master Composters are involved in, here’s what we have in the pipeline for the next few months.
- • Introduction to Composting – 2 x 1 hour talks at Yeo Valley Organic Garden
- • YouTube videos on composting by Stinky Ditch Nursery
- • Info stands at
- o Portishead garden trail
- o Clevedon Farmers Market
- o Backwell Jubilee celebration event
- • Schools talks
- o Portishead (school tbc)
- o Kewstoke Primary
- • Allotment society talk – Nailsea
- • Children / young people’s workshop at Coniston Park W-s-M, hosted by SWAN summer lunch clubs
Johnny Boxshall also added that he was a Master Composter and that there would be a composting course at Rector’s Way Allotments at 13.00 on Friday 10th June, where a demonstration of the Bokashi composting system would be given.
Finally, it was agreed that we would meet in person for the next meeting at Garden House, Stafford Place, BS23 2QZ at 7.00pm on Wednesday July 20th 2022.
The following agenda items were mentioned briefly and are included for information:
- 1. Possible funding streams – the new tree planting season is some way away, but now is the time to apply for grants and funding to ensure success. There may be an update on the following:
- 2. Sponsorship and ‘Room for Trees’ –
- • The conversation on how this can be initiated has started with Sarah Pearse and Fay Powell.
- 3. Green Infrastructure –
- • WSMTC Green Infrastructure Strategy consultation document to be ready by the next meeting.
- 4. Mapping Weston’s Trees –
- 5. Trees and Health –
- 6. Wilding/Rewilding –
- 7. Composting and soil –
- 8. Future meeting dates –
- • Next meeting: July 20th 2022.
- • National Tree Week – November 27th – December 5th 2022.
- • Discuss ‘Westonising’ the Woodland Trust planting site locator form with Rosie Walker.
- • Invite Kate Eastment to the next meeting to talk about Master Composters.
- • Feedback potential planting sites to Steve Clark and James McCarthy.
- • Contact allotment societies re: inclusion in Green Infrastructure Strategy.
- • Contact Green Prescribing Group
- • Research possibilities for green waste composting/recycling.
- • Invite Steve Passey to next meeting.
- • Discuss mapping of Green Infrastructure and tree planting with Sarah Pearse, Fay Powell and Rosie Walker.
- • Discuss sea front planter sponsorship and pollinator friendly planting with Fay Powell, Somerset Wood Recycling, Lisa Clemons, Pete Lane.
- • WSM Nature Trail – is this a collaboration opportunity with SEE MONSTER?
- • Biodiversity gain planting matrix.
- • Trees and planning info – Rosie Walker, James McCarthy, Cllr Crockford-Hawley.
More comms and invites to groups, individuals and organisations who could join/support tree planting group/initiatives.