I was very sad in May and June as the swifts did not arrive in my valley. I saw them around Stroud, but not in my garden where I love to see them swooping and screaming! To me the swifts signify the start of summer and it was a real relief when they arrived; this made me want to find out more about them.

Swift in nestSwifts are in trouble. It is estimated that the UK swift population has declined by around 50% in the last 20 years. There are several likely causes of their decline, but a major factor is the loss of nesting sites. Swifts depend almost entirely on our buildings, squeezing into small nooks and crannies under roof tiles or soffits. Unfortunately, when older buildings are refurbished these tiny openings are often unintentionally sealed up and the nest sites are lost forever. Very few new buildings are wildlife friendly, allowing no spaces for birds such as swifts to nest.

Our local swifts only spend three months of the year here. They arrive in early May to breed and leave for Africa in August.

We have decided to set up a Stroud Swift Group, initially to survey existing nesting sites, and then to put up more swift boxes for the breeding season next year. Locating swift nest sites isn’t always straightforward as their nests are not normally visible and the swifts fly in silently and at great speed. However, if you see or hear swifts flying in low level screaming parties, there are probably nests nearby. If swifts do nest under your eaves, you may not know they are there – and they keep their nests clean, leaving almost no mess behind! Swift flying

We would love to hear from you if you think you have a swift nest in your house, or if you’ve observed swifts entering any nearby buildings. Please email with sightings or if you would like more information about swifts: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

When talking about swifts other enthusiasts have said grassroots action is best – it’s down to people who are passionate about swifts – not large organisations. Nature reserves don’t save swifts; people do.

 

 

Will you be one of our 30 at 30?

 

Stroud Valleys Project is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion we are seeking to grow a group of supporters to give regularly and help us offer even more to people and places in the community.

T30 at 30hroughout our history we have provided valuable opportunities for people from all walks of life, including vulnerable individuals, enabling them to develop confidence, new skills and new friendships. Regular gifts make a huge difference to the work we do and we appreciate them all, but for our 30th Anniversary we are seeking 30 new pioneers to give ‘30 at 30’: 30 people giving £30 a month. This would raise £10,800 in one year. With Gift Aid this would be increased to £13,500.  

Could you become one of the ‘30 at 30’ and help us continue to enrich lives and transform places? If you are interested please call us on 01453 753358. Alternatively you can pop into our eco shop at 8 Threadneedle Street, Stroud and ask about becoming a ’30 at 30’ Friend.

Click here to see a list of some of our achievements over the last 30 years.

The cowslips and the bluebells are out - and by the time you read this the cows will be on the commons – a real sign of summer in this area. There are lots of events coming up that will give you a chance to see and enjoy some of the nature and wildlife in our area. The Festival of Nature starts at the end of May; the brochure, giving details of lots of nature based activities, will be available in the Farmers Market on Saturday.

Bats flyingMeanwhile we have organised a Bat Walk in partnership with the Museum in the Park at Stratford Park on Friday 18 May 8.30pm - 10.00pm where you can encounter Stroud’s many incredible types of bats with a local expert. We will listen for bats using bat detectors, and will hope to spot some flying. You will need to bring warm clothes and a torch. The Museum and Walled Garden will be open until 11pm, with the launch of a new community exhibition called Medicine Heads by the Independence Trust and SIT Select Textiles exhibition with a Pimms and G&T bar.

If you are interested to find out more about great crested newts we are also running a Newt Survey in Kingswood near Wotton under Edge that same weekend. On Friday evening a number of bottle traps will be set in the two ponds on-site at the old dew pond and the main breeding pond. If the weather is favourable a torch lamp survey will also be carried out for both ponds. On Saturday morning the bottle traps will be emptied and a survey count will be taken before releasing any newts or pond life found. Dates and times are Friday evening 18 May: 7.30pm 9.30pm and Saturday morning 19 May : 7.30am - 9am. This is a free event - donations welcomed, booking is essential as numbers are limited - call us on 01453 753358 or visit our eco shop, 8 Threadneedle Street, Stroud.

SeedlingIf plants are more your thing we are organising our annual Seedling Swap and plant sale on Saturday 2 June outside SVP Eco Shop from 10.30 - 1.00pm. If you have any spare or unwanted seedlings this is the event for you!. Bring along any seedlings that you have spare and exchange them for others. Both vegetable and flower varieties welcome. Even if you don’t have any seedlings to swap, you can still take some for a donation. It’s a great way to meet other gardeners and to share advice and knowledge

Urban green space – once it’s gone it’s gone

I was shocked to hear there are plans for another large building in Stratford Park to house Rush Skatepark. Although I think it would be good to keep the skatepark in Stroud, Stratford Park is already home to the Leisure Centre, outdoor swimming pool and the Museum in the Park. Surely we need to retain the green space we have?

Looking after parks can be a financial burden but I feel really strongly that we should not underestimate the importance of green spaces, especially in the urban environment. There are numerous research articles demonstrating the many advantages of providing open space in urban environments: formal and informal sport and recreation, preservation of natural environments, provision of green space, reduction of pollution and even urban storm water management. Parks can also provide valuable job, youth development, and public health opportunities, as well as opportunities for building communities.

Sensory Garden.peg

The social, economic and health and wellbeing benefits for our community are difficult to measure, but from the consultation work carried out as part our Neighbourhood Plan (that feeds into the Local Plan) local people wanted to see more ‘greening’ and more green space available in Stroud.

Over the last few years Stroud Valleys Project has planted over 2,000 trees in the park and we are currently working at Stratford Park to create a sensory garden on the old putting green; we are aware of how important this green space is to our local community and wildlife. The park has a Management Plan which has enabled wildlife to thrive, and a Biodiversity Newsletter provides updates on wildlife in the park - for example there are at least 6 types of bat we have identified in the park. You can join us for a Bat Walk which we organise in partnership with Museum in the Park on the evening of 18th May.

The park is a community resource and we have limited available space in our town centre - so please, let’s hold on to it and find an alternative site for a skatepark.

Photo : Stroud Valleys Project volunteers working on a new footpath in the sensory garden at Stratford Park

 

 

 

 

wild daffodilStroud Valleys Project is 30 years old this year! I have been with the organisation for 12 years (I can’t believe it!) and we have seen so many changes with the times. We started in 1988 and I recently looked at the original letter sent out inviting people to the very first meeting to set up Stroud Valleys Project at the Sub Rooms. We plan to celebrate throughout the year and hope you will join us. We will be looking back over the last 30 years, and if you have any past memories of working with us, or photos you can share I would love to hear from you.

We started two new projects this month: in Berkeley we will be working with the town council to improve Sarah’s Field which is a water meadow on the edge of the town. We are looking for new volunteers to work with us starting in March. We have started another project where we will be working in partnership with Stroud District Council at their sheltered housing scheme at Sherbourne House in Stonehouse where we are creating a garden area for the residents with students from South Gloucestershire and Stroud College.

In my October column I mentioned that many of our supporters and customers are expressing increasing concerns about plastic in our environment. So many people have come in to talk to us since reading the article. In spite of the reduction of single use plastic bags, other types of single use plastic packaging are becoming more and more of a problem.

We are working hard to reduce single use plastic in our eco shop; we have minimal single use plastic in the shop and most plastic we stock is recycled. Our greeting cards suppliers are already using or are working towards usng cornstarch or cellophane biodegradable packaging. The most difficult area for us is the packaging that comes from suppliers, and persuading them to reduce plastic packaging is ongoing!

I love Christmas but about now I notice how much extra waste and recycling we have generated so I thought it would be good to think about a few Christmas recycling ideas to take us into a greener New Year.

Christmas tree recycling in Stroud area will be different to previous years; instead of skips there will be door to door collections. Collections will be made by Longfield (hospice at home support) in partnership with Stroud District Council. If you book your collection before 3rd January your tree will be collected and chipped for a donation to Longfield charity, more information can be found at www.longfield.org.uk/Event/christmas-tree-recycling.

Christmas cards can be taken to Tourist Information in The Sub Rooms between 2nd and 20th January. They will be passed on to Cobalt charity (medical research) who will up-cycle them.

SDC do not recycle wrapping paper, but Stroud Valleys Project have some locally made paper star making kits in the eco shop, you can make beautiful paper stars by reusing your Christmas wrapping paper for next year’s tree decorations or handmade presents.

In January we will be having our Diary and Calendar Swap. If you have any unwanted diaries or calendars please bring them into our shop and we will make them available to others for a donation to our charity.

Stuart Singers PhotoFinally, on a different note, on Saturday 20th January 2018 The Stuart Singers from Minchinhampton will be joined by The Reed Warblers, a bassoon quartet for a concert at Holy Trinity Church in aid of Stroud Valleys Project. Beat the January blues with this eclectic mix of fun and classical music.  Refreshments will be served in the interval. The cost is £10 adult & £5 child, tickets available at the SVP eco shop.

Happy New Year to all!!

 Pumpkins and Plastics

 Save your pumpkins for the competition! 

PumpkinsThis year’s event takes place on Sunday 29 October 2017. As in past years, there will be Apple Pressing Workshops in The Walled Garden at The Museum in the Park from 11-12.30pm and 2-3pm. You are welcome to bring some of your own apples and have a go at making your own juice. There will be a pop up cafe from 11 to 4pm, and later there will be music, hot apple juice and pizza.

Please drop off your carved pumpkin entries at the museum courtyard by 3.30pm then join in with our twilight Pumpkin Lantern Trail around the Walled Garden at 5.30pm. There will be prizes for: best carved home-grown pumpkin, best primary school-aged entrant, best secondary school-aged entrant and best family entrants.

From talking with many of our supporters and customers we are aware of the increasing concern about plastic in our environment, especially the marine environment. In spite of the reduction of single use plastic bags, other types of single use plastic packaging are becoming more and more of a problem. If you share this concern, please pop in to our eco shop, where you will find an increasing number of alternatives such as bamboo toothbrushes, bamboo ecoffee cups, bees wax wraps for wrapping food instead of cling film as well as a refill service for household cleaning products.

And finally, a reminder for you to save the date for a special charity concert on Saturday 20th January 2018. The Stuart Singers from Minchinhampton will be joined by The Reed Warblers, a bassoon quartet. The concert will be at Holy Trinity Church in aid of Stroud Valleys Project. Beat the January blues with this eclectic mix of fun and classical music.  

Local environmental organisation, Stroud Valleys Project, are hoping to create the areas first green burial ground, and are on the look out for a suitable piece of land.

Green burial pr imageChief Executive Clare Mahdiyone said, “We want to create a burial ground without headstones, where trees and wildflowers flourish and wildlife thrives, a place of peace and reflection where those who have lost someone dear to them can find solace and healing in nature.

Green burial is about creating a species-rich nature reserve that over time will develop into a lasting memorial to all those people who are buried there.”

For the green burial ground to become a reality the group needs to identify a site and are hoping that someone will come forward with a suitable piece of land. 

Ecologist, Mark Graham, a member of the project development team explained, “We are looking for 10 acres or more of land that has good access and isn’t subject to flooding. The ideal location would be somewhere rural which is close to Stroud but feels private and peaceful.”

Stroud Funeral Director, Michael Gamble, believes that there would be lots of support for the scheme locally.  “Green burial is becoming more and more common, and with so many environmentally minded residents I’m sure a green burial ground would be very popular,” he said.

If you have a piece of land that you think would be suitable, Stroud Valleys Project would like to hear from you.

“We are keen to find land so that we can make the green burial ground a reality, if you have a piece of land that you think would be suitable please get in touch,” Clare added.

Stroud Valleys Project can be contacted on 01453 753358 or at the eco shop at 8 Threadneedle Streeet, Stroud, Glos GL5 1AF.

Organic Seed CatalogueWe are very grateful for the lovely support we have been offered by the Organic Seed Catalogue which enables us to have organic shallots and onions in the new year to sell in our shop.  These will be the perfect accompaniment to our collection of Biodynamic Seeds which we always have.

We are excited to be starting work on phase 2 of our Sensory Garden in Stratford Park. We are working in partnership with Stroud District Council and id verde who undertake grounds maintenance on the site. We worked with Daisybank Garden Design to develop a plan and over the coming months we will need volunteers to join us to work in the garden. Please get in touch if you are interested in getting involved. In the future we will also be looking for community groups to come and help us develop our ideas and take on parts of the garden.

Are you looking for summer holiday activities? We have lots of things planned in and around Stroud including our Family Pond Dipping Sessions on Wednesday 16 August. There are three sessions at 10am, 10.45am and 11.30am where families will have a hands-on opportunity to get a closer look at the exciting variety of creatures that live in our ponds. Or why not join us for a Family Walk on Wednesday 23 August 10am - 1.30pm. We will spend the morning walking from playground to playground with fun activities along the way (sorry but this event is not suitable for pushchairs). The cost for each of these events is £2/child per session (adults free) – all children must be accompanied by an adult! DSC6473

We also have a Fossil Walk on Saturday 2 September 1pm - 3pm. The Gloucestershire Geology Trust will be taking us on a guided walk along the shore of the Severn at Hock Cliff to find fossils embedded in the mud shale. This can be a muddy and slippery walk so good shoes or boots are essential. This is a family event suitable for children (cost for this event is £5/adult & £2/child).

Booking is essential for all the above events - call Stroud Valleys Project on 01453 753358.

Photo : © John Ockham

Stroud Valleys Project is a limited company,
registered in England and Wales.    

Registered number: 2224016    

Registered charity number: 900107

Stroud Valleys Project,
8 Threadneedle Street,
Stroud,
Gloucestershire,
GL5 1AF

Tel: 01453 753358

Fax: 01453 755641

Email: info@stroudvalleysproject.org

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