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Cwm Caredig & the Urge to Rake

By Rev Shelley Griffiths

AKA Pastor Shells

26th April 2022

To walk around Cwm Caredig at the moment is to have your ears kissed by birdsong and your eyes blessed by thousands of bluebells that carpet the ancient woodland here. They are all opening on the south side of the valley and are yet to tickle us with any glimpse of blue on the north side. It’s nature’s version of ‘here’s one I prepared earlier’.

Orange tips dance in pairs and swallows are already here, dipping and diving at dusk. Cuckoo flower has taken over the meadows furthest east and hawthorn is in full bloom everywhere like delicate lacy petticoats on otherwise bare branches. Hazel trees are unfurling new soft crumpled leaves and hundreds of iridescent green beetles are embellishing the dock leaves scattered across the pastures. There’s such an abundance of wildlife here already, it is exciting to think about what other species we could attract by rewilding and planting up new woodlands.

We put up birdfeeders in what we are now calling Nuthatch Copse and have been watching with delight at blue tits dominating it while larger birds like the greater spotted woodpecker, great tits, chaffinches, gold finches and even the namesake nuthatches wait until they have gone before venturing in. I feel a little like those fierce little blue tits with my determination to loudly seize the day despite any challenges.

We have planted lots of clover on all the muddy areas and despite just chucking them on the ground following by a further casting of compost quite randomly it all seems to be sprouting. Clover doesn’t need mowing like grass does; the bees love it, it’s edible and very good for you. I don’t know why anyone would choose any other ground cover! Grass is horribly high maintenance, although Paul has been mowing pathways and a handful of clearings at Cwm Caredig and it’s quite the stunning transformation in a very short space of time. You can see quite clearly where the new copses and woodlands will be planted so it’s exciting to see the land taking shape.

The Woodland Trust just awarded us 420 ‘Wild Harvest’ trees to both attract more birds and give us an abundance for making jams too. We will be planting them in November and hope we can find enough volunteers to get them in over a weekend. We are also planting some new hedgerows, so with those saplings, we expect to hit a target of 1000 trees in the ground this Autumn/Winter! Until then we are continuing our biodiversity study and getting very excited about temporary potato hedges that will loosen the ground along the stock fencing, look rather pretty this summer, and of course give us a bountiful crop of potatoes which will go to one of our free food hubs when we harvest them.

The new pathways here are now scattered with grass cuttings. We have estimated it’s roughly three kilometres of pathways! Paul is fighting the urge to rush around and rake it all up and kickstart the one of a few compost heaps we will get going here. The last walk we did of the pathways he brought the rake with him cheekily scooping it into piles whenever I stopped to log another sighting into my biodiversity app.

We will be hosting volunteer days here on most Wednesdays throughout the season, so if you would like to join us here in this exquisite garden of Eden, there is lots to do! We are also offering village centre accommodation to volunteers who can help us at our 70’ self-watering polytunnel and permaculture kitchen garden in Drefach Felindre and a heated caravan at Fferm Heulog for short stays when we are focussing on community volunteer days there. It can be quite social at Fferm Heulog around a campfire at the end of the day, so if growing veg and hanging out with lovely people is your thing, why not join us on our volunteer days? We often share fabulous wholefood together, and on lovely summer evenings can regularly be found on Penbryn beach with a campfire, guitar and if we’re really lucky (like last year!) dolphins and seals.

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