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Storm Eleanor

Storm Eleanor – what a messy lady!
Nobody in Cornwall can fail to have known that Eleanor was in our Country last week, she blew in fierce and strong leaving a trail of destruction behind her, flooding, crumbling sea walls, and mess everywhere.

Inspired by pictures on Facebook myself and my family took part in a SAS beach clean at Porthtowan this weekend. We were all shocked by the sheer volumes of plastic a lot of them raw plastic nodules meant for plastic manufacture and cotton buds. At points on the beach we could not see the sand for plastic. Whilst this made us very sad what gladdened our hearts was the amount of families doing exactly as we were, from toddlers to pensioners all were there clearing the beaches side by side.

Organised beach cleans are a great opportunity to work for the common good alongside your community and help the earth a little. However, you can make a difference also by taking a bag with you each time you go to the beach and gather rubbish that should not be going back into the sea.

You become quite obsessive and can’t pass a piece of plastic or fishing gear without bagging it. By the end of our stint we had filled a large bucket with plastic, Dolly our people pleasing springer had adopted several families and our son had apparently frozen all of his fingers off. We also left feeling proud of our community and the people who call others to arms. Volunteering can be done on your own, as a family, as a group as part of a community. We can also vouch that it makes you feel fabulous!

Wonderful Willow

I went along to Mellingey Mill with Colum our Corporate Volunteering Officer to see how Volunteer Cornwall can help Emma Scott grow and blossom with her Willow weaving and creative craftwork.  Emma is extremely talented when it comes to Willow crafts, she has woven baskets big and small and of varying shapes and styles and she rather wonderfully creates sculptures from Willow too.  Just have a look along the street that runs through St. Issey and you’ll find an eccentric lady and a pair of bumble bees crafted out of Willow.  I’m not really familiar with Willow trees and was amazed by their shape and beauty.

Willow baskets below with Willow sticks and other creations by Emma, also the Willow trees glistening in the sunshine.

   

  

 

Emma works mostly on her own chopping and preparing the willow and working from her lovely Yurt.  If you would like to learn more or get involved with this wonderful craft then pop down to Mellingey Mill or contact Emma: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or follow Emma on face book https://www.facebook.com/Emma-Scott-Artist-185445364836058/  Emma also holds workshops on willow craft.  It was a lovely day spent in the woods and learning about the Willow Tree.

The Growing Project

The Growing Project

If you care about where and how your fruit and vegetables are grown and want to support a local non for profit organisation then look no further than the ‘Growing Project’ at Pensilva. Situated in beautiful surroundings just off Bodmin Moor the Growing Project is a small CIC (Community Interest Company) set up by Ruth Wilson and manned by a loyal team of volunteers. The volunteers meet on a Wednesday in the winter months and Thursdays too after March and part of their volunteering experience is to all sit down together for lunch, usually a soup with ingredients grown and produced on the land by the very volunteers! I talked to some of the volunteers who said it is more like working with family members than just individuals as a special relationship co-exists amongst the volunteers and their time spent on the land is very therapeutic. There is a lot of love and care that goes into working the Growing Project and the produce is completely organic. They also provide a delivery service and produce Veg boxes consisting of a variety of fruit and veg. They also provide a Veg stall each Thursday which is refreshed with all sorts of seasonal delights and all they ask is that you put cash in the post-box on the gate. They welcome lawn clippings, used rabbit bedding and cuttings at their compost bins by the gate. The ‘Growing Project’ is run by the community for its community!

The Growing Project welcome volunteers for all sorts of jobs if you would like to get involved or would like some more information then contact Ruth at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

 

Council volunteers help tidy Marazion beach

On 16.03.17 Volunteer Cornwall, with help from Clean Cornwall arranged for staff members from Cornwall Council to tidy Marazion Beach. Marazion Beach, which is owned by St Aubyn's Estate, faces St Michael's Mount and is one of Cornwall most popular beaches.

Despite the threat of bad weather the volunteers were raring to go and after a short health and safety briefing they quickly began filling their bags with all sorts of waste which had been washed up on the beach. A competition was held amongst the team to see who could find the best item and for the longest time I was confident I was going to win with a large onion I had found amongst the seaweed. Shortly before the clean finished though a unanimous winner was declared when one member found an old pair of underwear!

 

It is extremely important that we keep our beaches tidy. Dirty beaches will turn away tourists which in turn has a massive impact on the local economy and will help protect local wildlife and fishes who can mistake discarded plastic for food. By the times we had finished we had collected 15 bags of rubbish just from this one beach.

I personally want to send a big thank you to Clean Cornwall for lending us their equipment, St Aubyn's Estate for the use of their car park and the beach and to the volunteer who came along for the day. Great job guys! Let do it again soon.

Have a go at conservation volunteering

David has already unloaded the white van as I arrive. There are bowsaws and loppers; Cornish shovels and fire beaters; a few scythes; a bag of gloves; and the wheelbarrow with the brew up kit. There are a dozen of us today, and we all pick some tools and carry them the quarter of a mile or so up the hill, to where we will be working.

We’ve been at Crowan Beacon earlier in the year, to cut a fire break in the gorse and bramble that covers the hill. Now we are back to do a burn. “Burning has been getting a bad name lately” explains Stuart, the project’s farm adviser, “but here in the West it is a very useful management tool. It will support the low intensity cattle grazing on the fresh growth that will follow, adding to the biodiversity of this moorland area.” It is the first time that our group has been involved in a burn, but David and Stuart have clearly done it before, and they are keen that the fire is well controlled: better burn small sections at a time than getting everyone stressed out - or burn the whole hill down. It’s Dave’s job to light the fire where it will be contained, bearing in mind the wind direction and the nature of the vegetation. It’s our job to ensure that the fire does not get away, so we post ourselves along the break armed with fire beaters and shovels. We are lucky: it is cold but sunny, and there is only a light, steady breeze – ideal conditions. There is not much undergrowth, so although the flames are spectacular, it's quickly over. Time for a cup of tea. Then we cut more breaks and light another section, and another after lunch. It’s all very well managed and turns out to be the easiest of all the tasks that we have done so far!

 

Our group of Upstream Thinking volunteers, managed by Cornwall Wildlife Trust, carry out weekly practical nature conservation tasks in the catchment of the River Cober, north of Helston. The aim of the project is to improve the water quality of the river, and to enhance the biodiversity of the area.

So far, we have cleared ponds, cut bracken, gorse and bramble and repaired stone walls. We have tried our hand at the ancient craft of hedge laying and learned to use a scythe and a billhook. It’s the sort of work that gets you outdoors and keeps you fit. We work throughout the year. It’s extremely rare for a task to be cancelled because of foul weather, so you do need wellies and waterproofs. 

We’re a diverse group, men and women ranging in age from perhaps 18 to well into retirement, with different skills and fitness levels. Some of us have a particular interest in conservation work, others come for the chance to be active outdoors. They are a great bunch of people and it’s the team spirit (and the tea and cake) that keeps me coming back every week. This group is now fully subscribed, but there are others doing similar work throughout Cornwall that do need more volunteers. 

Upstream Thinking run another volunteer group in the Fal catchment. Cornwall Wildlife Trust have another weekly group working near Truro.

You can find further opportunities on www.do-it.org, or look on websites of organisations that you are interested in.

If you do not want to commit to regular volunteering, charities such as Cornwall Butterfly Conservation, the National Trust and Cornwall Wildlife Trust organise one-off conservation tasks -  look on their events pages for possible dates.

Do you have an experience that you would like to share, or do you know other groups in need of conservation volunteers? Please use the comment box below, or contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..