Framsden Woodland Group (Eades Orchard)
An overgrown copse transformed into a beautiful Community Woodland by a group of dedicated volunteers; a space to be enjoyed by families, friends and by all those in local communities seeking a natural place to relax, reflect, learn and contribute to the environment.
Framsden’s 2007 Parish Plan highlighted interest for a community wood and in 2011 a group of villagers negotiated the lease of a piece of young woodland behind the church. Older residents told us it was originally an allotment belonging to Stephen Eade, so our woodland became ‘Eades Orchard’. Since then an ever increasing number of villagers, of all ages, known as the Framsden Woodland Group, work together to develop and maintain ‘Eades Orchard’ as a local place to enjoy, come together and connect with wildlife.
Our aim has always been to create a communal space for all the village that is financially and ecologically sustainable. The Woodland Group operates under the guidance of a retired horticulturalist and a community development expert to ensure that ongoing maintenance and development continues to meet these aims. Routine running costs are covered by an annual sale of plants, grown by the Woodland Group volunteers themselves, and occasional sales of wood harvested from the woodland.
Our focus has always been our community. In addition to the Woodland Group volunteers’ monthly ‘work’ sessions we regularly hold community events with much wider participation from all age groups and have completed activities to support broader engagement. These have included:
• Hosting ‘The Big Lunch’, Queen’s Birthday and seasonal events attended by local families and visitors.
• Holding an annual, illuminated Halloween ‘Pumpkin Trail’ attended by 65+ villagers.
• Involving children at our monthly working group to create ‘The Den’ - a bender frame of ash.
• Builing a walkway enabling a youngster use his mobility trike, assisting access for the Toddler Group and allowing older residents to negotiate the facilities more safely.
• Building a fire pit which doubles as a community BBQ and large table for gatherings
Our work with the community, with wildlife conservation and environmental education was recognised in 2016 when the Woodland Group was presented with Suffolk’s prestigious Greenest Community Project Award. Our glass plaque has been set in a tree stump in the woodland by one of our volunteers or all to share.
Further recognition of our work has come from Framsden Parish Council and Mid Suffolk District Council in the confirmation of Eade’s Orchard as an Asset of Community Value (ACV).
We are proud of what we have achieved and want to share our experience with others beyond our community. We have received visits this year from:
• Stonham Aspal Guides who had an evening ramble from The Old School House Nursery at Helmingham and finishing with toasted marshmallows in the woodland.
• Children and staff from The Bridge School in Ipswich, (an all aged special school with a nursery for children with severe, profound and complex learning difficulties) visited the woodland. After the wood had been explored, sausages were cooked on the fire pit and thoroughly enjoyed
• The church warden and parishioners from Great Bealings came to the Woodland to learn from our experience and see what they could apply to their churchyard and surrounds. They were effusive in their thanks for a ‘thoroughly enlightening and enjoyable visit’.
How would this funding have an impact on your community?
We would use this money to continue to develop the Woodland for the community, enhance our wildlife conservation and environmental education efforts and also to extend our communication and reach to groups beyond our community who could benefit from the environment we have created through a guide, integration with local amenities and signage. Specific projects that we have in mind are:
Construction of a pond
We are committed to increase biodiversity and this would help to fulfil this aim by creating a new type of habitat within our Woodland. There is no clear water in close proximity so nothing for small mammals to drink. Providing even a small area of water would increase the small mammal population within the site and increase biodiversity in the area. Hedgehogs have declined drastically over the last few decades and we want to make our site hedgehog friendly which requires water. We are advised that our Woodland could be considered as a hedgehog release site provided a natural water supply was available. Ponds are a Biodiversity Action Plan priority as this type of habitat and related species have declined drastically. The provision of new ponds is highly recommended by all UK conservationists and related organisations. A pond project would also engage both adults and children in its construction and maintenance and have a longer term educational value by the provision of an aquatic habitat to study. A suitable area has been identified on the site which requires excavation and preparation and can be fed by natural drainage. Funding would allow for the hire of excavation equipment and provision of materials to create the pond and ensure its safety for younger visitors.
Increasing community engagement
We want to encourage other groups beyond the local community to share in our woodland, building on the visits we have had to date. We recently held a summer solstice meditation in the woodland attended mainly by members of the community and everyone commented on the peace and tranquillity of the woodland and its almost therapeutic value. So a proportion of the money would be used to extend our activities to engage with groups that support those with mental and physical health issues and encourage them to come and visit us. Specifically, we plan to create a Framsden Nature Trail Leaflet, incorporating Eades Orchard, the adjacent St. Mary’s Churchyard and other nearby woodland with existing interlinking footpaths. The leaflet can then be distributed in the local area and to educational, environmental or care organisations who could make beneficial use of the amenities we have created. This leaflet could more easily be designed and produced with the aid of funding from Skipton Grassroots Giving, as could developing complementary nature trail signage to attract and guide visitors.
It is difficult to estimate how exactly many people would benefit but we believe that the potential educational, environmental, health and wellbeing benefits beyond our own community are significant and could easily extend reach an usage to 4-5 times the current level.
"“With such great support and so many willing hands, both young and old, this special space can only continue to thrive and it is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when a community comes together, and I for one am very glad that they had the vision to see the ‘wood for the trees’.“
Independent quote taken from the June 2017 “Wooded Bliss” article in About Fram magazine – http://www.aboutfram.com/news/aboutfram-magazine-issue-14-out-now/"