Muddy Fork News Letters

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..

 

Lockdown, mental wellbeing and the natural world.
The impact of the current lockdown on mental wellbeing is well documented. People are social animals and lack of contact with family and friends is taking its toll on many. Those with pre-existing mental health conditions have often been particularly hard-hit and the impact on mental health services is already being felt.
At the same time, lockdown has offered many people time to re-engage with the natural world. Everyday life for most of us has become quieter and slower. Those with gardens have grasped the opportunity to be out of doors. Sales of seeds, grow-bags and garden tools have rocketed and home-schooled children have been watching their beans and sunflowers grow. Even those without gardens have found themselves observing the trees coming into leaf and the birds becoming bolder.

Government-sanctioned exercise provides updates on the progression of the spring flowers, or even, in cities, the weeds growing through the cracks in the pavement which are now being labelled by guerrilla gardeners!
The benefits of spending time in green spaces are now widely recognised. Both mental and physical wellbeing are enhanced by contact with the natural world. Personal accounts of such experiences continue to be published, academic work provides clear evidence. Hospital patients are discharged sooner if they can see trees through the window rather than a brick wall. For many people, nature will have been a life-saver during the dark days of lockdown.

Muddy Fork, Retford’s ‘gardening for wellbeing’ project based at the Idle Valley Nature Reserve, is of course currently unable to provide a service. Groups are suspended and the worker furloughed. The garden however is being maintained by volunteers in the expectation that work will resume in due course and will be needed more than ever.
Muddy Fork participants whose mental health has been adversely affected by lockdown conditions will be glad to return, get to work, and meet up with others. New referrals can be expected given the downturn in wellbeing felt by many. The project also hopes that its corporate wellbeing days will be increasingly used by businesses whose employees have appreciated access to nature during the lockdown period. All this however is dependent on the project’s financial survival. Fundraising possibilities are currently limited: many grant-giving bodies are not accepting applications, and the small donations from groups, clubs and individuals which have helped sustain the project have largely dried up.

Muddy Fork trustees are monitoring developments closely and providing updates on the website www.muddyfork.org 

They will be pleased to hear from supporters, donors and referrers, though referrals cannot actually be progressed at the moment. To get in touch, contact trustee@muddyfork.org