Welcome everyone to the meeting and thanks all for attending.
Actions from last meeting
Grozone T-shirts (£8) and Hoodies (£17) are now here and available. Please see Andy if you want to purchase one. There are limited numbers of each size at the moment, so if you need a certain size and we have run out we will order more.
A Tarpaulin has been put over the forest school area, but it is too high to be really functional so may need some adjustment.
Sponsored walk: will now be included in the Love My River programme. Date and exact route to be organised by Pete and will be on a Thursday in February or March. Looking to find the route with the best paths so it is accessible for all, the Weaver was suggested as the best. Sponsor forms need organising and distributing after a date and route have been decided.
The trees have arrived for the Forest Garden and 11 out of the 13 top fruit trees have been planted. We are just waiting for the last two to arrive from Morreys, Caroline to chase up. Caroline also making a “tree care and use” and ground plan for the Forest Garden area.
More work at the Groundwork offices is scheduled for the 8th of December, as we missed a session.
Grozone pond still needs work doing.
More tree pruning needed, particularly work on the willow structures.
- The gardening jobs are quietening down for winter but we have been doing a lot of leaf raking to keep paths safe and not slippery, but also so we have the leaf mulch as a resource next year.
- We’ve done lots of wood processing to keep the kettles and ovens running.
- We’ve worked hard preparing the site for the toddler sessions, most recently two child sized picnic benches made from old bunk beds by Rachel, Baz and Mark.
- We’ve dug out a channel under the ramp to improve drainage.
- We’ve worked on the bunds and wildflower meadow to prepare them for more seed sowing in the spring.
- More work at the Groundwork offices.
- Work on the ponds.
- Further work on the wildflower meadows and finishing the leaf raking
- Keep clearing and cleaning the ramp of leaves and algae.
- Work to finish the ramp.
- Remove the stump in the yurt.
- A new yurt is arriving, and we need to decide where to put it. This is a Groundwork yurt that’s been out of action for a while. Glen the yurt man is mending it and Andy will be collecting it soon. We will need to do some maintenance on it before we put it up. It’s smaller than the existing one, black and doesn’t have a fire in it (yet).
Merseyside Police visited Grozone (including the Chief Superintendent) to see and discuss how Grozone has developed over the years. Groundwork is working with South Liverpool Homes to attract funding (possibly from proceeds of crime money) to develop a site in Speke in Liverpool into a community space.
Andy visited the Neuromuscular centre in Winsford who have Tesco Bags of Help funding to improve their outdoor space. They will be visiting Grozone soon to see what they would like to see in their own garden.
Monday 12th December Pete is visiting Mere Brow Farm Permaculture project, in Weaverham to do a tools sharpening workshop.
Our workshop programme has had its first participants – 3 people attended The Orchard Planting and Maintenance workshop. The workshops are aiming to give more detailed, focused teaching about specific subjects.
We are now running several new projects on and off site, in order to bring in money to run the core regular sessions at Grozone.
Roots to Wellbeing Practical Horticulture Award Level 1. Began on the 16th of November and is now in week 3 of 10 weeks. The focus of these sessions is tools maintenance, tree identification and tree and shrub pruning. This is a project from the Skills Development Agency who contracted CWaC, who in turn contracted Grozone to deliver the skills. The skills are aiming to help people towards work. Grozone will receive £238/person who completes the ten week course.
Toddler Sessions. These began at the start of November and are run by Caroline on Mondays from 10.30am until 12pm. There is no booking required and families have been turning up to enjoy free play and crafts. They have been well attended, between 14 and 17 children on good weather days and on two bad weather days we still had 6 children. Adults stay with the children to enjoy the outdoors with them. There has been some very positive feedback from these session and it’s good to see some new and young people in Grozone. £500 of funding for these sessions has recently been secured from Rudheath and Witton Gogether, to pay for refreshments, craft materials, spare clothes and some wage money. Cost is £3 per child, and £1 for each additional sibling.
Tytherington School, Macclesfield. Staff are working with Jon (from Project Up) to develop the school’s outdoor learning and growing spaces. Work takes place on Fridays (until May).
Bright life. We didn’t get this funding.
Love My River. This is a project that is funded by the Environment Agency across the North West. The project involves volunteers helping to survey parts of the river Dane and the river Weaver, identifying pollution hot spots and spotting and recording wildlife. This will result in regular volunteer sessions going out to the rivers on a Grozone day to walk the river banks, network with river users, and do some citizen science (e.g. taking water samples). This is all part of the Water Framework Directive, to get a better understanding of our rivers and their condition. We are looking to do 20 walk over surveys and 500 volunteer hours by March, and also involve local schools, with 2 sessions already booked in January. Filming by the Environment Agency took place to show where the funding is going. There is a Fresh water Invertebrate surveying day course and a first aid course booked for volunteers who are interested, (please see Pete).
Staff are all working really hard to manage and deliver all the new stuff, while keeping on with all of our core activities. The new projects allow us to keep Grozone open for everyone, which remains the core element of what we do. But there will be times when there are less staff available, and staff need everyone to know that unless we do these other projects, then there’ll be no money to open the site up to regulars.
Andy thanked Pete and Caroline for all the extra work that they’re now doing, and everyone else for their understanding.
Andy asked that if anyone felt anxious about the changes, that they please talk to a member of staff.
We discussed the benefit of creating a separate Friends of Grozone group to be able to apply for other pots of funding that Groundwork can’t access and make a step towards Grozone being more volunteer led – if anyone is interested in being part of it, please talk to Andy.
At our last meeting we discussed the possibility of closing on Saturdays - to which there was some opposition. As a way around this, we are looking to recruit some volunteer leaders who could open the site for a few hours (initially to regulars only) on Fridays or Saturdays, preferably Fridays. The role would require you to supervise other volunteers and be First Aid trained. We are having an induction day on Friday 6th January (1 - 3 pm) to show potential leaders how to open up and close down, including the kettles and tools. There is First Aid training for any potential volunteer leaders on the 10th January (full day) and DBS checks will have to be done on those wanting to lead. We are hoping to start running volunteer led sessions in February. Rachel, Sonja, Jonathan, BJ, Kevin, Becky and Stuart expressed an interest and Denise is happy to come and support but can’t commit to a full day. In the meantime, we will continue to open on alternate Saturdays as usual.
Any other business
Concerns were raised about the effective sharing of giving information - aside from the Friends of Grozone Meetings. Some worries and concerns have risen up from a lack of communication and understanding of the changes that are taking place, and rumours that then circulate. Andy stressed the need to talk to staff, rather than other volunteers with any concerns.
Date of next meeting
Tuesday 14th February from 1.30 - 3pm.