The group was founded in 1986 with the aim of improving the ‘green environment’ of the two parishes. At present, our active membership is about 20 and the average attendance at working parties is about 10.
The banks of the part of the stream that we look after was originally choked with nettles. Although nettles are valuable to wildlife, the group wanted to develop it as a wildflower area with as many different species as possible. A couple of times a year we pull out the visible nettles and now in spring and summer the banks are a mass of flowers including purple loosestrife.
The 500 metre long hedge alongside the bypass was planted by the group – a job which took about 9 years.
We now have a small reserve in one corner of the park at the school end. It consists of two sycamore and cherry copses and a stretch of grassland between them. The grassland is mown once a year and the clippings removed so that the fertility will gradually lower which should encourage wild flowers and fine grasses.
The hedge at the back of the reserve is trimmed top and sides to keep it thick and it is increasingly used by nesting birds. The trees in the copses are generally left alone apart from some pruning and felling to allow more light to reach a few self sown oaks.
For some years in the winter we have worked on a bog on the Common. This bog had nearly disappeared because of silver birch tree invasion. A few of these were felled by the 1987 storm and revealed the remnants of the bog. Now annually, we remove the invading bracken, brambles, reed mace and birch re-growth to allow the sphagnum moss to develop. Although slow to start, the last three or four years have seen a large increase in the moss and in a few places it is beginning to swamp the invading bracken.
Several years ago, the Borough Council cleared a large area of birch to allow some of the heather which used to cover much of the Common to re-establish. This has been very successful but this has also allowed the gorse to return and provided a good seed bed for birch seedlings. A couple of times a year our group removes as much gorse and birch from around the young heather as we can manage. This work cannot be done by machine as large strimmers or flails would also cut back the heather.
For some years we have been involved in helping local schools plant and maintain boundary hedges to improve their surroundings. We also plant spring bulbs on as many verges as possible around Great Baddow.
We are a very friendly group. We work closely with Chelmsford Borough Council Parks Dept. and we are paid for work which we do on their land and without this we would not be able to continue because of the high cost of insurance. We are always happy to welcome new members who would enjoy doing something practical for the local environment. Our working parties are usually monthly on a Sunday afternoon, but the work at schools takes place during the week.
If you are interested in joining us please contact Åsa Pamphilon on email@example.com or phone 01245 609778.