April 2021 Newsletter
Spring has arrived, and Muddy Fork, is growing in more than one sense of the word! We have welcomed new participants and volunteers, but we still have space for more participants, and would
welcome referrals, including self-referrals, for our sessions on Mondays and Fridays. Enquiries about our new Tuesday afternoon bike project, The Wellbeing Cycle, run in partnership with
Retford’s Bike Pedlars, are also welcome. Thanks to Cycling UK for helping with this project.
We are now starting to sow our seeds for produce later in the year. I’m sure some of you are aware our polytunnels are on their last legs, they leak, are draughty and have had more repairs than I
care to think. Grateful thanks to D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust and Ollerton based construction company J Murphy & Son who have awarded us grants which will ensure at least one new
polytunnel, if not allow both to be replaced or renewed. In the meantime we have started to sow, sweetcorn, sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, dwarf beans and a variety of herbs.
We have made a new potato bed—which has been very wet and one of our participant has done a splendid job on trenching around it, digging it over and clearing the weeds so that we were able to sow
our first variety of potatoes (“Nicola”), they were cossetted in wool from last years fleeces which will keep them warm in the ground. More varieties to be sown over the coming weeks. Red onions
are in, hopefully beetroot soon.
We have been experimenting with our home made netting supports and this year we are using willow (which we harvest anyway), its quite successful, however we have had to trim newly growing side
shoots so we can get the netting on and off without snagging it!
The rhubarb is coming along and should be due for picking in the next week or so (we forced some and left some to it). The asparagus is just starting to poke its head through the ground, alas the frost got some before it had got high enough to pick!
The tree nursery fencing is complete and some of the oaks were dug up, tap roots shortened and planted in the new area, this will make it easier to lift them for buyers. A big thank you to
Councillor Karen Roberts at Southwell town council for their purchase of 5 black poplar trees which were planted in Froggatt’s Field, Southwell - at a community event held on the 3rd of
Over winter we had a general tidy up and we laid a new path towards a new area, potentially to move our bees to at some stage. Speaking of bees - we have entered into a new partnership with
Welbeck farm shop for them to sell our honey alongside some of the produce we grow. This is a great venture for us. Of course, you can still buy our honey and produce from our pantry on this
website. We also had a stall outside the farm shop on Easter Saturday, where we were able to tell everyone about our work at Muddy Fork and sell some of our honey, candles and produce.
The inside of the hub is now almost completed and looking smart, thanks to donations from our local councillors and the Co-op Community Fund. We hope to expand the “hub” area and improve the
surrounding ground and we are grateful to Screwfix for a grant to enable us to do this. We are hoping to put new seating and landscape the area a little to provide a lovely, relaxing seating area
for participants, volunteers, and visitors.
Another big development will be the installation of a rabbit-proof fence, provided through the earlier Lottery Covid 19 fund grant. This should make a huge difference, though since we still
harbour a range of wildlife on our site, it is unlikely to be the end of jokes about the foolhardiness of gardening on a nature reserve! A related improvement will be new, wider, gates, to
facilitate access by wheelchair users.
A splendid willow woven stag can now be seen from the Idle Valley car park, which was made this February from some of the willow we harvested. We also have a small selection of bird feeders
We remain grateful for the ongoing support we receive not only from our volunteers but from the wider community. Our participants benefit greatly from coming to Muddy Fork and we survive because of the generosity of the community and our funders – so a big “thank you” to all of you reading this.
January 2021 Newsletter
Happy New Year to All!
Well, we opened again at the end of November and lovely to see people back enjoying the garden and catching up—all socially distanced of course. Government guidelines mean Muddy Fork is allowed meet up socially distanced with 15 people per session supported by our volunteers. We have hand sanitiser and face masks and gloves as required when necessary for all to use.
Alas toilet facilities at the Idle Valley nature reserve remain closed, which has curtailed the length of our sessions at Muddy Fork. We are now operating 3 mornings per week, Monday, and Friday 9:45am - 12:45pm and 11am-2pm on a Wednesday.
We are continuing to take new referrals including self-referral.
We have been very busy behind the scenes and upgraded our website; the navigation is much better, and you can see what we have in our pantry for sale and order online. Also check out our Facebook page and Instagram.
Since the last newsletter, our former chair of Trustees Chris Locke has stood down and we thank him for all his hard work. Rachel Orgill- Jones is now our new Chairperson, Mike Bennett remains our Trustee in charge of finances and we also welcomed Darren Read and Jenny Bailey to the board of Trustees.
In December, we attended an outdoor socially distanced Christmas market, organised by the Chequers Inn at Ranby. We sold hampers containing handmade chocolates, honey and preserves all made by the Muddy Fork team and we also sold lots of our herb bushes. Rachel, our chair of Trustees and Heather were vey busy that day making wreaths for Christmas, making some on the spot to order. These sold well alongside our willow Christmas stars. We also donated Christmas hampers to St. Saviours and to the hospice.
Over winter our worms were moved in to the polytunnels to keep snug, the bees are also hunkered down for the winter and have been treated to protect them from varroa mite. We face regular battles with the bunnies who seem to be excellent escapologists, either escaping out of our garden (good) or tunnelling in to help themselves to our produce(bad).
We had a socially distanced day of willow harvesting, which is now drying and hopefully we will have another day in February.
We have created a second tree nursery to uproot and move established oak trees into this after removing the prime root and letting superficial ones grow…..this stops the oaks getting so embedded that we cant dig them out for sale.
We have lovingly cared and nurtured our rare black poplar trees and now have sold 60 to the Trent Rivers Trust, and they are going to be planted along the river Trent, with another batch ordered for next year. The black poplar is rare and one of Britain’s native trees which is in decline, so we are delighted to help repopulate our landscape with them.
We still have lots more black poplars, oaks, and elms for sale- see our pantry for more details.
Now it is winter, before we start sowing next year’s crops, we have been undertaking maintenance. Our hub has been painted twice and now has guttering- we await the inside to be completed once funds allow. We acquired an extra shed to keep bee equipment in and that also has been painted as have 2 planters which we will add to our existing beds.
Garden Lockdown Bulletin - September 2020
So here we are, half a year gone and still no signs of a return to group activity.
Our team of intrepid volunteers continues to work hard in the garden, which is easily manageable in the space available. The garden and the bees continue to be well looked after, and produce is being sold to friends and neighbours of volunteers, including in the form of ‘single person veg box’ offerings, which offer us flexibility and can make effective use of the produce available.
The ‘Three Sisters’, with the odds permanently stacked against them, were commended by the judges of the competition for being good sports, but not surprisingly were unplaced. The sweetcorn was however delicious! Full marks to Pippa for taking the initiative on this one and seeing it through.
Slug-hunting and rabbit-hole fixing remain high on the agenda and we continue to reap the benefits of these efforts. We still have tomatoes (mainly outdoors), cucumbers and courgettes remain productive, kale and chard are keeping going, and the first of the leeks have been lifted. Meanwhile the beautiful pumpkins are a wonder to behold and the squashes are coming along.
As the growing season progressed we have also had time to turn our attention to our tree nursery, with work going on with oak seedlings and black poplars. Not all have survived the hardships of the summer but we still have a good number to work on.
And so, as we move into the next six months, when little may change in the way of restrictions, it remains to be seen where we go next over the autumn and winter.
Covid-19 Update: Sessions Still Suspended but..