Natural Wight volunteers joined forces again with Gift to Nature recently to take part in the Tree Council’s hedgerow planting initiative, ‘Hedgerow Harvest’, a national project which saw over 300 metres of fruiting plants and trees planted at 6 locations around the Isle of Wight.
30 young volunteers from the Foyer in Ryde and from Southern Housing Group’s Atkinson House in Newport helped to plant 200 edible hedgerow plants and 10 fruit trees at Gift to Nature’s conservation sites, Pan Mill Meadows and Merstone Station. Braving two days of high winds, mud and a lot of prickles, the young volunteers have planted a tempting array of gooseberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, blackthorn and hazel as well as trees such as apple, pear and damsons.
‘Traditionally, hedgerows have acted as a natural larder, providing fresh, seasonal food for both wildlife and people year-round. So not only will the hedge plants and trees the Natural Wight volunteers have planted grow to provide new and attractive features, they’ll taste great too. By autumn next year, the first harvests should be ready for scrumping and people will be able to come along and help themselves!’ says Sam Buck, who manages Gift to Nature.
The Natural Wight volunteers have been busy working on conservation projects all over the island and are keen to continue. Regular volunteer Kerri Salter explains the appeal: ‘It’s great to have such a good reason for being outside all day. We enjoyed our day hedgerow planting at Merstone station so much we came back to help on the second day at Pan. Since then I’ve noticed loads of other spots since that could do with more fruit and nut tree planting and I’ve even just bought my first pair of wellies!’
Natural Wight, run through Spectrum Medina, was awarded £96,670 through Access to Nature, a scheme run by Natural England and funded by the Big Lottery Fund. The programme aims to encourage people to learn more about the beauty, diversity and accessibility of our Island environment. Look out for Natural Wight activities and walks throughout the year or if you too would like to try your hand at conservation volunteering, email Natural Wight on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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