Following an initial planting session in November at the new food forest garden in Old Witney Road Play Area, students from the local primary school – alongside their parents and enthusiastic Parish Councillors – have spent another Sunday adding trees, bushes and shrubs to the site.
On 13 March approximately 15 children and their families took up spades alongside Cllrs Milly Chen and Carl Rylett to plant berry bushes, fruit trees and ground cover. The gardeners were fortunate to have a bright, Spring-like day for the session, which attracted many enthusiastic volunteers.
Some of the students were attending for the second time and were delighted to see the initial batch of plants already starting to bud. There were plenty of new faces too, and all the youngsters were thrilled to encounter varieties that they wouldn’t normally be able to find in the shops. This included a strawberry tree, a jostaberry bush and honeyberry (edible honeysuckle). They also planted some local apple varieties including the Eynsham ‘Oxford Conquest’ which was donated by Catriona Bass of Eynsham's Nature Recovery Network.
Cllr Milly Chen, who has been working hard to support the creation of the food forest garden, extended her appreciation to all the students and families who came to help. “It was great to see so many people, both familiar faces and lovely friendly new ones. The energy level of all the children was just amazing and they really seemed to enjoy it,” she said. One exchange was particularly cheering, recounts Milly. “One boy from the reception class at the school, Sam, said to his dad: ‘Can I come here every day? This is the best place ever!’ How wonderful!”.
The food forest garden – similar to an allotment but requiring less upkeep – is being created as a green space allocated by the Council to help local children learn more about the natural world and connect with nature. Students and teachers at Eynsham Community Primary School have been involved in the planning of the space and will now start building habitats for creatures, such as ‘bug hotels’. Keep an eye on the website for updates and photos when these are complete.
Congratulations to all who have been involved in this project so far. In addition to inspiring village children, the food forest garden will also serve as an asset for the community, to be enjoyed by local people walking in the area while also improving the biodiversity of our environment.