Somerset CAN in April

Dear Somerset Climate Action Networker,

As you know we are collaborating with students at both Strode College and Bridgwater & Taunton College to create some short videos about the incredible work that you are doing with the aim of inspiring more folk around Somerset to take up the cause.  You wrote in to let us know what could be availale for the content of these videos, and it‘s all just too good not to share here!  We hope you find this as inspiring as we do.


South Petherton Tree and Wildlife Group (TWiG) have completed 2 hedge planting projects in the Parish and have got another one coming up next year. They also have an acre of Parish land which they are turning into a wild flower meadow next to the allotments in the village. TWiG is a Parish Council led working group and is well supported by both councillors and local residents.  If you’d like to know more please contact Kath Brace at Kathbrace7@gmail.com.

Watchet’s Onion Collective’s action is focussed around community discussions and imagination. They have set up East Quay, which is a cultural centre in Watchet that enables these kinds of conversations, stimulated and supported by art and creativity. https://www.eastquaywatchet.co.uk/
Alongside that, they’re also running a myco-mill, which is an industry start-up growing mushrooms and mycelium materials. https://www.onioncollective.co.uk/industry-for-watchet
Thirdly, they’ve developed Understory, which is a platform for measuring and exploring social capital in places, so changing the metrics on what matters and again, enabling a different conversation in a community. https://www.onioncollective.co.uk/understory
 
Their work is about systems change and developing agency so that people are supported to re-engage with questions around what the future could look like, so that they have ownership over what they’re fighting for.

Transition Town Wellington has been super busy creating a forest garden on Fox’s Field next to Tonedale mill. It’s snowballed into the creation of an entire green corridor here – 70+ acres! Pretty transformational. https://ttw.org.uk/about-foxs-field
Planting in Fox’s Field with Transition Town Wellington

Yeovil Rivers Community Trust have been doing work on slowing the flow of streams and improving wildlife diversity.  
 
Sustainable Yeovil are supporting Westfield Community Garden in Yeovil which had their grand opening last month. They also organise regular litter picks.  And if you like singing, they are running Eco song writing workshops for children and adults as well as singing sessions at the Eco Fair in Yeovil on Sat July 16. 

Carhampton Climate Group – another parish led climate group,
have the following events in the pipeline:
 (1) Saturday 23 April: launch event for the parish’s wildlife gardening and mapping project.
(2) Community orchard party which will include nature spotting and iNaturalist training linking to (1).
(3) Information stall at the Village Fete on 9 July.
(4) Community litter pick in Carhampton and Blue Anchor (not the beach) Saturday 13 August.
 
They continue to write articles each month for their Village News on various climate-related topics.  https://www.carhamptonpc.org.uk/news-from-the-villages/
 
Tree planting projects which you told us about:
Reimagining the Levels in partnership with the Woodland Trust, the Somerset Rivers Authority and the Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group have been doing a lot of tree planting – hundreds of trees, and hedging, planted in many sites over the area.
 
There are trees, hedges, flowering plants and shrubs being planted in Glastonbury on Fisher’s Hill which is a local community led project on Fridays from 11.00am.  Lots of random but willing and committed volunteers creating a fabulous space out of a grassy area.
 
Conscious of the loss of wildflower meadows and natural wild strips around ploughed fields, we need to use every mown space we can find as frogs, toads, hedgehogs and many other creatures are in serious decline due to lack of wild places.   So, the village of Meare started wildflower planting for the benefit of bees and other insects, and to cheer up the grass verges which is being done in collaboration with Mendip District council and Somerset County Council
 
Every Child One Fruit Tree provides a grafted fruit tree for any interested child, planted in a nursery where they can “watch it grow.” IThe trees are then moved to some reclaimed land for the community after 3-4 years. Kids not only get closer to nature but this project also provides food for the future.  If anyone in Somerset would like to get involved and can provide the space for a nursery bed for 3 years, 1 sq m per 10 trees, Stephan can run workshops until the end of this month for groups of 15 to 25 children up to the age of 13.  Donations accepted on a ‘Pay as you feel/ can afford’ basis.  Please contact everychildone@gmail.com
Tree planting with Reimagining the Levels Every Child One Fruit Tree
  Repair Cafés are running in Wells, Wedmore, Glastonbury & Wincanton with more in the pipeline in Langport, Street and Shepton Mallet. Repair Cafés help us to prevent waste as well as to learn some new skills and join up with other community folk while we renew our old stuff.   Taunton Green Parents have been arranging the contributions from different local Taunton groups each week for the Green Focus Column in the Gazette.  Back in 2019, TGP together with Taunton Transition Town, approached the Gazette to have a weekly Environment page.  This has been going strong ever since.  TGP have also been working with Netherclay Nature Reserve to set up a wildflower area and by the time you read this, some of their volunteers will have already prepared the beds for this year.    Taunton XR have recently been gathering signatures for a petition in the High Street asking the local and county councils to speed up delivering on their climate strategy, which was recently put at the top of the list of local authorities for quality of strategies. They recently met with members of Somerset West and Taunton Council to underline this.  They are continuing to lobby the County Council pensions committee to divest from fossil fuels.

A number of their members will be going to London for the National XR Action in April.   Axbridge Climate Emergency Group  – another parish led group, are developing a patch of disused ground by the Church Rooms in Axbridge into an Eco garden.  The aim is for this to become a pleasant community place in itself but also act as an information centre on adapting to climate change.  They’re adopting the motto ‘Buy Local, Eat Local, Grow Local’ and encouraging biodiversity in their community.
Their other project is not yet highly visible but no less important.  Like other rural communities Axbridge has a large carbon footprint from transport. One of their members has been involved in the Somerset Bus Back Better scheme.  In order to support and improve on that, they are aiming to do a well-evidenced survey of transport patterns in the town to underpin further work on EV, a community bus, car pool, walking/cycling etc.

And of course they are constantly striving to help their community to retrofit and insulate better.

Quantock Eco, as well as continuing with their long running tree planting and flood management projects. are initiating a fuel poverty project to focus on draughtproofing:

Phase 1 – Pilot project working with Danesfield middle school in Williton and other local schools:- they will refer 25 households to QE who are in fuel poverty and would benefit from draughtproofing.  QE are receiving advice from Spark Somerset on funding for £100 per household to pay for draughtproofing materials and possible labour cost.  QE have also contacted Bradfords (featured in our last Somerset CAN webinar) about materials and they will give advice and information about what can be done through DIY or with some help. QE also has expertise on using recycled materials to draughtproof. 

Phase 2 – The pilot will be evaluated and money raised (or help in kind) to increase the scale of the project.

Forum 21 also has a fuel poverty and reduction of heat loss project.  They are in contact with Somerset Community Fund who have asked them to suggest ways to reduce the amount of energy needed by people aged over 50 who are given surviving winter grants. The Quantock Eco project may partner up with Forum 21 on this.   Forum 21 is also advising on schemes for insulation and improved heating. 

West Somerset Together has made connections between lots of their local groups to provide synergy on various projects such as wildlife habitats, wildlife mapping, waste reduction, food production, and so on.
  Green Wedmore has a whole gamut of exciting projects:  In collaboration with Somerset Environment Records Centre, Green Wedmore has launched the Wedmore Community Mapping scheme so everyone with a smart phone can learn and record all the amazing plants and animals they have in the parish.   They are also encouraging all their residents to ‘mark’ their gardens to help make Wedmore as wildlife and carbon friendly as possible ……. garden by garden. ‘Top Tip’ – make sure that there is a way through from your garden to your neighbour’s garden so that hedgehogs can range and thrive The recent scrapping of VAT on solar energy projects has created a rush of enquiries and requests for surveys. Wedmore Solar 1000 would like to make a big shout out to the guys at Sunlit Solar/Rogers Electricians for all their hard work as they do their best to meet the new demand. On going litter picks as well as freecycle days help to keep Wedmore tidy and reduce waste. Worthington Woods Food Forest now has two outdoor meeting areas, bird boxes, bat boxes, hedgehog boxes and bee/bug hotels nestled in amongst the fruit trees and fruit bushes. This previously unloved and derelict land is turning into a real village asset. Green Wedmore are also working with the Wedmore First School Academy’s Green Council to help arrange class-by-class visits to Worthington Woods Food Forest, debates and assemblies. There are plans to launch a village community agriculture scheme to bring food production as close to home as possible and on June 11th they will be showcasing similar farms elsewhere in the county. Wedmore now has around 50 home E chargers around the villagewith more being added all the time. The next step is public chargers, and the Parish Council are looking at viable options at the village car park and at the playing fields car park. A commercial company is also looking at other sites.  
Wells Cathedral Sustainability Fair 27th October Green Wedmore have been asked to take a stall at this event to demonstrate what can be done throughout the county village by village.  Somerset CAN also hopes to showcase the climate action films made by the talented students at Strode and Bridgwater & Taunton Colleges.  
Wilder Churches  The diocese and Somerset Wildlife Trust have combined forces to make churchyards more wildlife friendly. An online event to welcome new communities to help wildlife in churchyards, other church land and burial grounds will take place on Tuesday 26th April, and is aimed at anyone interested in managing churchyards (or any other faith associated space) with wildlife in mind. Book your place now!
Don’t forget that Somerset CAN are intending to hold a Youth Climate Conference, in conjunction with Dorset CAN and Wiltshire CAN.  The aim is to help our young folk engage with active democracy, especially around climate issues, and to give them an opportunity to influence the way things are done.  When young people speak, their voices have a huge impact and the capacity to create positive change. 
Please ask your children and grandchildren if this is something they’d like to be involved with.  If so, please ask them to get in touch before Thursday April 7th:  somersetcan@gmail.com.

Our local authorities have been hard at work too.

South Somerset DC has produced a Community Biodiversity Pack – a new Toolkit which has been developed to allow local people to take the lead in preserving and restoring biodiversity in their community!

The toolkit is designed for use by community groups, local landowners, Parish and Town Councils, schools and youth groups and it provides a structure for how local communities can better understand what they already have in terms of biodiversity, as well as how to plan for developing greater biodiversity in the future. The Toolkit also provides a series of practical tips for how you can manage your land for biodiversity.

Click HERE to download the pack, and if you have any questions contact SSDC via SSDCEnvironment@southsomerset.gov.uk

SSDC also believes that private landowners across South Somerset could really progress urban area’s access to trees and the benefits they provide, including cleaner air, reduced flooding risk and increased biodiversity. The Urban Tree Challenge Fund (UTCF), which has already awarded 700 trees across Chard & Martcock, allows anyone with full management of their land to apply for a minimum of £10,000, supporting tree planting projects which lie within the ‘Urban’ mapping which can be checked here. 50% of the costing must be match funded, but these costs can be matched using labour in addition to money. The UTFC is now open for new applications until midnight on 31 May 2022. If you are interested in this fund please contact Joshua.bennett@southsomerset.gov.uk.

Mendip DC recently published some guidance on holding events more sustainably Event Sustainability – Mendip District Council
 
They are also holding a series of e-bike trial days happening in partnership with The Open Road Experience. 
 
Wells 13th April 10am – 1pm at Cathedral Green
Street 22nd April 10am – 1pm at Cranhill House
Shepton Mallet 8th May 10am – 1pm at Collett Park (park road entrance)
Glastonbury 28th May 10am – 1pm at Somerset Rural Life Museum

Somerset County Council are offering a Growth Accelerator Fund to support businesses as they recover from Covid. with a focus on helping them to go greener.
With the heating and energy crisis continuing, please remember that the Somerset Retrofit Accelerator Project is ongoing. In collaboration with Future Proof, there are up to 50 discounted Home Retrofit Plans available to households in Somerset, starting from £50 for an introductory guide to retrofitting your home, and from £100 for a detailed survey and report. If you want to make your home a more comfortable and sustainable place to live, but don’t know where to start, these plans will help you understand what measures may be the most appropriate and impactful for your home and will be based on your needs and budget. Find out more and apply at Futureproof

Anyone else wanting to take part in the Community mapping scheme (like Carhampton & Wedmore), there is more information is on the SERC website HERE;  To take part you just need to register for iNaturalist on your computer at uk.inaturalist.org/  before downloading the iNaturalist and Seek apps on your phone. (More info on those phone apps can be found HERE.)
 
Somerset Food Trail 2022
Put the 15th to 24th July in your diaries. There will be clusters all over the county allowing us to celebrate local, decently produced food and drink. Watch out for the maps, leaflets, and on-line info in the months to come and for the blue signs that will lead to you to the venues.


And finally a request:  If anyone would like to join Somerset CAN as our treasurer, please do get in touch, stevemewes415@gmail.com.  We’d love to hear from you.

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