Sustainable Woodstock

We aim to raise public awareness among the residents of Woodstock and beyond on the climate emergency, energy conservation, sustainable travel, waste reduction, recycling, bio-diversity, sustainable economics and respect for the planet. 
We are working with local councils, Woodstock Town Council, local schools and churches, Blenheim Palace, local businesses, the Farmers Market and the Woodstock trade association, Wake Up to Woodstock


             Hilary's Newsletter

Sustainable Woodstock News
September 2020
Hi Everyone, 

This month we have several COVID secure outdoor activities; we have residents who are happy to share their Woodstock stories; our local farmer, James that I find so interesting and is passing on so much about our all important local land management and the pressures; hints on shopping more ethically, reduce plastic waste and ways to reduce carbon; NASA Kids again for those who missed out last month and links to the Oxfordshire CAGs.

Try to remember to fill in the Green Space Questionnaire organised by the town council, delivered to each home and ensure you return by Friday 11th September. It's important to protect our green spaces for the benefit of those in our community currently and in future ....green spaces that provide an opportunity for sport, health, recreation as well as places for wildlife. The questionnaire is also available online  
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/JJ2HKFT

Soon, many will be attempting to get back to some kind of normality whether school and work, youth groups, sports clubs, coffee clubs, etc, etc. The vast majority of people have tried their best to support their families, friends and their community to continue to be COVID secure and enjoy life a little more  .... it hasn't been easy especially for some and hope the community continues to find ways of supporting each other ... while our scientists and government battle it out for a way to live with this virus for the time being. 

Last month I expressed disappointment that Woodstock residents might miss out on an opportunity for a new right of way between Old Woodstock and the Town. We know from the consultation that residents would like an alternative pathway and cycle way ... but it feels like this present council's answer will always be NO on this issue. We have several ancient rights of way through the watermeadow that link up with pathways that many regularly enjoy .... an additional right of way to access the meadow and the town from the north would be beneficial .... wouldn't it? I hope we aren't throwing away the chance for an improvement right now when we know from experience that it's impossible to satisfy everyone? Below are the comments from Sustainable Woodstock's Safe Routes lead, Colin Carritt that we support fully.  The WTC 14th July minuted meeting ITEM WTC86/20 can be found  by copying this link into your browser. 

http://www.woodstock-tc.gov.uk/minutes_2020/MINUTES%20OF%20THE%20JULY%20MTG%20HELD%20ON%20TUESDAY%2014%20JULY%202020%20(final).pdf
 
PROPOSED FOOTPATH WOODSTOCK WATERMEADOW 
Colin Carritt
 
It was, of course, disappointing news that Woodstock Town Council (WTC) rejected Blenheim’s plans for a connecting cycle footway from the new Hill Rise development to the schools and the town centre.  WTC does not want any part of the Woodstock watermeadows used to facilitate a pathway through from the new Hill Rise development and agrees that the plan submitted by Blenheim Estate for a bridge across the Mill Stream (R. Glyme) into the watermeadows and associated path/cycleways through the meadows is unacceptable. 

Community First Oxfordshire were appointed jointly by Blenheim and WTC to engage with the community and to determine the infrastructure needs for the new town developments.  One of the top priorities was to:- 

“Provide a safe, well-lit cycle and footpath from the new site, through Old Woodstock and across the Glyme to the town centre”.

Oxfordshire County Council echoed that commitment in its response to Blenheim’s Environmental Impact Assessment for th
e Hill Rise development as follows:

“In terms of pedestrian and cycle routes it is crucial how these extend beyond the site to provide safe and attractive connections to Woodstock town centre.  There is a strong desire within Woodstock to improve the ways in which residents travel around the town, with an emphasis on creating strong pedestrian and cycle links.”  

WTC's watermeadows are a public resource for leisure, recreation and education.  They are a natural, green area in the midst of the town and contain valuable habitat for birds, animals and plants.  To WTC's credit, in the fifty years I’ve lived in Woodstock, they’ve actively encouraged residents to use the Watermeadows and, more recently, in the contract drawn up to manage the watermeadows there is a clear requirement to provide opportunities to further encourage the public enjoyment of this local resource by promoting public access through the provision of better paths and walkways. In 2014 WTC itself commissioned the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) to conduct a safety audits for the watermeadows.  Amongst other comments RoSPA said:

4. Subject to any restrictions connected with the preservation of rare or native species and the protection of nesting birds, all paths should incorporate a clear space of one metre to each side of a notional mid-point on the paths. [In other words, paths should be 2m wide where possible]
5.  All paths should be improved over time to create a level and firm surface.

We're aware that Blenheim’s interest in connectivity and in supporting the Active Travel message goes beyond their Woodstock development proposals.  They are also interested in talking with the cluster of villages within the land ownership, Stonesfield, Combe, Hanborough, Bladon, Wootton and Woodstock to look how these ideas might be taken forward.  The COVID lockdown has put discussions back but Sustainable Woodstock hopes to engage with like-minded people from all these villages to present a united approach (see Safe Routes later in newsletter).       

OUTDOOR ACTIVITY - SOCIAL DISTANCING
& COVID SECURITY
4 BIG BUG HOTELS BUILD
Making homes for insects and other mini-beasts. 
COMMUNITY ORCHARD
Saturday September 12th & 26th   
10 - 12 noon

Children and adults warmly welcome.
Children must be accompanied by an adult or guardian  
What to Bring
Suitable outdoor shoes, garden gloves, personal refreshments and mask if you wish. 
We Can Provide 
If needed, we can provide lopers, secateurs, safety specs (all COVID cleaned) ...or bring your own.  Alcohol wash. 
THANKS to all who donated materials.  
Please Email us if you have any questions or call 01993 811975

DISCOVERING HOLLYHOCK WALK

Many residents discovered Hollyhock Walk for the first time this summer and while chatting with a passersby in the Community Orchard I asked about the back story and then asked if I could share with the community. We spoke of the possible loss during the development and the disappointment that a road couldn't be named Hollyhock Walk or perhaps after the two "legends" that created it. My understanding was that it was turned down by WODC and guidelines for future road naming can be found on this WODC LINK . Sustainable Woodstock offered to work with the community and try to recreate this lovely sight in the Community Orchard and some residents started to collect seeds. We went on to tell Blenheim about the story and they agreed they would try to recreate the Hollyhock Walk in the new development along this old right of way. Below is the story as told by Old Woodstock resident Joanne Onions and photos kindly offered by Nicola Onions (copyright 2020).   

THE STORY OF HOLLYHOCK WALK
Joanne Onions Woodstock Resident
Photographs Copyright 2020 Nicola Onions 

 
The story of the Hollyhock walk is typical of two Old Woodstock legends John Cummings and Pete Dempsey, sadly no longer with us. They apparently went to a flower show at the Marlborough School (several years ago) and bought some seeds and having had one or more drinks decided to walk and scatter the seeds along the paths and field for a joke, not knowing whether they would take or not. Several years later they have self-seeded and are looking very pretty. You can see lots of hollyhocks between Woodstock and Old Woodstock, a lot of them attributed to John and Pete out for one of their walks. However, the field walk between the play area (built after an impassioned speech by Matthew Treadgold and Martin Onions at one of the Mock Mayor events) and Wootton has been such a success that it is known by walking groups who ask to walk this route just to see them.

This year in particular when lockdown was eased and more people started walking in Blenheim my family and friends looked towards the field and Orchard and discovered lots of walks that were on our doorsteps for all to enjoy. The beauty of the surroundings, the changes in the seasons, the bonus of spotting wildlife and sharing photographs with others on Facebook have helped our wellbeing as the weeks turned into months. The beauty of that field may sadly be lost to housing in the future, but the hollyhock walk will hopefully be recreated in the Woodstock community woodland and orchard for all to enjoy with a smile and nod towards John and Pete.   Joanne Onions
LINK for WODC Policy for naming roads 

 

 

SEED/PLANT DONATIONS WELCOME
Would you like to donate seeds or plants please get in touch.   EMAIL
CLICK HERE for a video link showing how to collect seeds but please only take a fraction of the seeds. Try  adding wildflowers to your garden or have an area devoted to wildflowers in your garden.
Recommended wildflower seeds for garden use at Plantlife or other suppliers. 

POSTCARDS FROM JULIA

Thanks Julia for getting in touch. Many of you will know Julia Johnson .... she recently became a follower of Sustainable Woodstock and got in touch with a lovely tale of her travels to Woodstock, Vermont with her Sustainable Woodstock bag ... that she bought in 2010, soon after we started to offer plastic-free alternatives to the town. I asked Julia if I could include her story in the newsletter and she agreed. So how far has your bag travelled? 
 
Postcard from Julia


I've been having a trip down memory lane and thought the attached might amuse you.

To cut a long story short, I reunited with a school friend for the the first time since leaving school and in September 2010 I combined a 'leaf peeping' tour of New England with a visit to her home in New Hampshire. I chose the particular coach tour because the itinerary included a whistle-stop visit to Woodstock, Vermont. I believe this was the first year of the Sustainable Woodstock cloth bags. I couldn't wait to tote my bag round another Woodstock and duly baffled strangers at key common buildings as I burbled at them, telling them I'd come from Woodstock, Oxfordshire and asking if they'd take my photo. I was grinning from ear to ear when I got back on the coach. Happy days - I still have that bag!  Best wishes    Julia

Thanks Julia for getting in touch. Many of you will know Julia Johnson .... she recently became a follower of Sustainable Woodstock and got in touch with a lovely tale of her travels to Woodstock, Vermont with her Sustainable Woodstock bag ... that she bought in 2010, soon after we started to offer plastic-free alternatives to the town. I asked Julia if I could include her story in the newsletter and she agreed. So how far has your bag travelled? 
 
Postcard from Julia


I've been having a trip down memory lane and thought the attached might amuse you.

To cut a long story short, I reunited with a school friend for the the first time since leaving school and in September 2010 I combined a 'leaf peeping' tour of New England with a visit to her home in New Hampshire. I chose the particular coach tour because the itinerary included a whistle-stop visit to Woodstock, Vermont. I believe this was the first year of the Sustainable Woodstock cloth bags. I couldn't wait to tote my bag round another Woodstock and duly baffled strangers at key common buildings as I burbled at them, telling them I'd come from Woodstock, Oxfordshire and asking if they'd take my photo. I was grinning from ear to ear when I got back on the coach. Happy days - I still have that bag!  Best wishes    Julia

Woodstock Safe Routes - Update
Colin Carritt

An Extraordinary Year So Far for Cycling and Walking

We’ve seen a draft of a new Highway Code aiming to reduce danger for pedestrians and cyclists; the promised establishment of an Ofsted-like quango to be called Active Travel England, that will enforce decent standards for cyclists and pedestrians; emergency policies and funding for ‘pop-up’ cycling and walking facilities; the Welsh Parliament deciding to adopt 20mph as a default urban speed limit; and a vote on pavement parking controls in Wales to come in the autumn.  Mostly, of course, the focus is on the big urban city areas.  But things are at least moving in the right direction.

And it is needed. The UK is amongst the worst recorded for obesity in Europe.  Physical inactivity is responsible for one in six deaths while air pollution accounts for around one in 12.  And of course, transport is now the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.  With nearly 60 % of car trips being less than five miles, the scope for more cycling and walking to reduce these impacts is huge.

What’s now critical is whether local politicians and the public will embrace change or fight it, and whether the Government will stay firm when things get tough. Historically, the low numbers of people cycling has meant few people calling for better conditions – ‘No one cycles round here so why should we spend any money on it?’ has been the politicians’ line. But the large increases in active travel we all saw during lockdown has hopefully changed that. The latest data shows that cycling is 50 % above pre-COVID-19 levels.

What does all of this mean for Woodstock and Bladon?  I’m sure that in the longer term we will see some positive spin off from the changing travel emphasis.  But in the short term I’m afraid it isn’t such good news.  Ian Hudspeth, leader of Oxfordshire County Council, recently confirmed that 20 mph speed limits will not form part of the government’s funding for post COVID Active Travel plans.  We shouldn’t give up on speed limits though.  They are low cost and effective both in accident reduction and in sending out a clear message that drivers need to respect vulnerable road users be they cyclists or pedestrians.


But overall, we should not lose heart, the national momentum is on our side, but we need to persuade the local authorities in particular, that it isn’t just pedestrians and cyclists in Oxford and Banbury that deserve decent routes to work, to school and to the shops, but small market towns and villages like Woodstock and Bladon.

COMMUNITY ORCHARD
OUTDOORS & GOOD SOCIAL DISTANCING
WHAT ARE WE PLANNING IN OCTOBER?
Adding to the Biodiversity

At the top of orchard we will have the grass mown before we meet. We want to rake the cut grass to one side - help required! We then will hire a scarifyer to chop up the ground and sow Yellow Rattle and wildflowers seeds. Finally, we will stamp the seeds in with our feet! 
 
Children and vulnerable are warmly welcome but
must be accompanied by their parent or guardian. 
ADD YOUR NAME

NO obligation by Email sustainablewoodstockuk@gmail.com 
or  add to WhatsApp Group please send you mobile number as well. 

WOODSTOCK COMMUNITY WOODLAND
at TEN YEARS 

Colin Carritt – Sustainable Woodstock
Len Wise – Woodstock Probus

The 11th Duke, Peter Jay the Town Mayor, the Rev Adrian Daffern,the Mock Mayor, school children and others at the planting of the Community Woodland in 2010

 

 

 

August at Perdiswell Farm, Woodstock

A Blaze or a Wash    James Price
 
August has been and gone in a blaze (or should that be a wash) of glory, two weeks ago we were complaining about the heat and I’m now thinking of lighting the fire tomorrow evening.  I do apologise for always writing about the weather however it is what dictates not only my day to day work but also the success or failure of my business each year.  I’m fortunate not to have a boss to answer to however the weather forecast is what I have to use to plan each day and week, fortunately there are some amazing apps available now, some of which can be quite accurate.
 
2020 was already shaping up to be a year to forget and as arable farmers we all secretly hoped that we could get through harvest with the minimum of fuss, plant next year’s crops and then forget about the past 12 months.  The weather gods haven’t finished with us yet though.  The heat at the start of the month was great to get us going and all our winter wheat was safely gathered in with good quality across the board.  Our spring crops have suffered badly with what is called secondary tillering though.  The dry spring meant that the plants only grew what they felt they could support at the time; in some cases this was less than 50% of what they could sustain in a ‘normal’ year.  When it started raining in June the residual nutrition combined with warmth and sunshine encouraged them to get a second wind and push out fresh growth.  This is great apart from half the plant is ready to harvest in July whereas the other half is 3-4 weeks later, in a dry summer this is fine but when it starts raining like it has been it causes more problems.  The original tillers had been ready to cut for a few weeks when the rain came and the high humidity day after day means they start to germinate and grow in the ear; this destroys any quality and makes it worth a considerable amount less than it was.  We are now in a salvage situation and with yields over 40% lower than a normal year it is going to make the financial side of the business very tough for 12 months.

Better news though is that good growing conditions mean our turnips and mustard are looking great, you may notice a yellow tinge appearing in a few fields and this is the mustard flowering which gives an amazing source of late food for the bees before the sheep arrive to eat it in mid-September.  We have experimented with some different species this year and the attached picture shows the 6 different species (Buckwheat, Mustard, Phacelia, Linseed, Millet and Clover) which is looking great after only 4 weeks.  This will be left to grow to about 10” tall before we top it off and then drill winter beans into it, unfortunately the sheep can’t eat it as buckwheat is poisonous.  I’m not mentioning the Oilseed Rape!!

This is the time of year where we spend a lot of time together as a team and the chat on the CB radios has been entertaining to say the least.  We have a harvest WhatsApp group and woe betide anyone making mistakes as they are photographed and shared.  There is now a Perdiswell Instagram page if you fancy looking it up, I’ve left it to the younger generation to sort out with the stipulation that none of my mistakes are to be on there!  Every year we have a tradition of working into the early hours one morning to gather crops in before the weather breaks, in the past 10 days I have walked into the house after midnight 5 times …… and I am knackered.  The guys have got the bank holiday weekend off as a well-deserved break before we, hopefully, wrap the remaining 300acres of harvest up in September.

 
Wildlife around the farm in August
 
It’s a time when I am around the fields more than normal and I’ve been so pleased with what I’ve seen.  Two coveys of English partridge have been a particular highlight but hares, little owls and a barn owl have all featured.  A sure sign of autumn is the geese crossing over to Blenheim and for a couple of weeks we had a daily flyby between 20:30 and 20:45.  I managed to get a great video as I could hear them coming before they swooped low and flew either side of our house finally raising up and disappearing over the trees towards Woodstock.  We have swallows galore and both nests have had second broods this year; it’s wonderful to watch them catching insects in the still air under the lee of the tall trees often joined by both Swifts and House Martins.  Our resident House Martins have produced three beautiful chicks who I can encourage to stick their heads out of the nest if I open the window by them and gently whistle, their parents are not amused though! Finally, at the start of lockdown my daughter, Pippa, and I also made the bug hotel in the attached picture which we have been enjoying watching for signs of activity.  I think it must have been under some COVID-19 restrictions though as it hasn’t had many guests yet. 

Onwards and upwards for September, hopefully when I next write we will have completed harvest, the sheep will be munching their way through the mustard and our oilseed rape will actually have grown.  I can’t promise to not mention the weather but I will try!

Supporting Plastic Free On Our Doorstep

Climate Action in Woodstock

Village Refill  offer alternatives for single-use plastic for the home and workplace. Eco-friendly and carbon neutral service delivered free to your door in and around Woodstock. Much like a milk round …. once you've used the products they'll come and refill your empties. The service is a fully closed loop reuse system, they refill your bottles and their suppliers refill their containers, they even deliver it to your door in an electric van. Give Village Refill a try....let's get this going.    Kick out the old habits.

NASA's Climate Kids

NASA's Climate Kids website is an education resource featuring articles, videos , images and games focusing on the science of climate change.  Or maybe we can learn more ourselves. It's a great site ....share with youngsters in your family and help their science interests along. Click HERE to view. 

HOW TO SHOP ETHICALLY? 

CLICK ON LINK BELOW

 

 

9 THINGS

https://www.imperial.ac.uk/stories/climate-action/   

Make Your Voice Heard

Extinction Rebellion XR is a global environmental movement with the aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action so that we avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse. For those who think they might like to be more active take a look at https://www.xroxford.org and sign up for their newsletter. Other groups are out there that may be of similar but different interest such as Greenpeace https://www.greenpeace.org.uk or Friends of the Earth https://friendsoftheearth.uk.

FOR SALE
We generate funds for our 
projects by selling bags to you or your business
- one at a time is fine by us. 


Prices
Jute bags @ £2   
Canvas large and small Reduced to £3

 

 

 

 

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