Review of 2021
At the start of a New Year, we take a look back at 2021… The year began with another lockdown. Although this brought challenges, this time around we had plenty of experience of Zoom and working from home. Gardening courses took place online and the Crafters group members kept their creativity flowing, making items from repurposed materials even though they could not meet in person.
In February, we shared the exciting news that our application to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Community Environment Fund had been successful. In March, we set to work on the Community Green Hub at St James in Birkenhead North. With the amazing support of local residents and community groups we have been able to turn an overgrown and neglected site into a welcoming space for people to meet with others and develop their horticultural skills, supported by workshops on topics such as composting, planting for pollinators, herb gardens, permaculture and no dig gardening.
As Covid restrictions eased, in April we were delighted to be able to reopen our centre at Falkland Road. At last, the Falkland Road Organic Growers (FROG) were able to work together in the garden and enjoy each other’s company, while producing a vibrant selection of vegetables, fruit and flowers. The Reclaimers group fixed the raised beds and created a new compost and leaf collecting area. Once gardening courses could be held in person, a wider range of topics could be taught. Classes in 2021 included ‘Practical Gardening’, ‘A- Z of Gardening’, Royal Horticultural Society Gardening level 2, Open Awards level 1 in ‘Tree and Shrub Identification’ and ‘Pruning and Horticulture’. Eventually, once indoor meetings were allowed, the Crafters resumed their Tuesday sessions at Falkland Road, where their creations are always on display and available for sale to the public to raise money for WEN.
In April, we collaborated with Wirral Climate Action Group, Hope for the Future and Rethink Now CIC on ‘Wirral Acts on the Climate Emergency: Transport’. This online event brought together a range of experts and local politicians to talk about the future of sustainable travel and transport on the Wirral.
By May, Wirral Tree Wardens had established a tree nursery at the Community Green Hub, providing a supply of trees to be given to local people and community groups. We also planted a hedge around the site and created raised beds for growing fruit, veg, herbs and wildflowers.
In June, the National Food Strategy supplied the theme for two workshops at the Community Green Hub. Participants could plant up a container of edible plants to take home, whilst taking part in a discussion about what we need to do to make our food supply sustainable. Starting from nothing in March, by June we had begun to harvest kale, spinach, baby broad beans, lettuce and herbs.
In July, we invited residents of St James and Birkenhead North to join us at the Community Green Hub for an Open Garden event. We were keen to show off the transformation of the area and were pleased to see new and familiar faces. Visitors helped pick produce and could enjoy the new wildlife area and pond, taste some of the crops and get gardening tips.
In August, we ran children’s activities in collaboration with North Birkenhead Development Trust – St James Centre and Bee Wirral. The children who use the St James Centre were able to pick fruits, vegetables and herbs at the Community Green Hub, and get the opportunity to see how different foods grow, as well as tasting and smelling them. More summer holiday fun with Bee Wirral as we took children pond dipping at the neighbouring Landsdown Place Community Allotment.
In September, we held an Open Day at the Community Green Hub. We had lots of fun, with vegan food tasting, experts on hand to answer any gardening questions, free bulbs to pot and take away and children’s activities. Throughout September at the Community Green Hub, Wirral Tree Wardens held weekly tree workshops covering taking cuttings, planting trees, tree health and seed collecting.
Also in September, we took our information stall to the Leverhulme Summer Cycle at Brimstage and enjoyed the music, artworks and cake… and of course all the enthusiastic cyclists who were able to explore tracks which are usually not accessible.
In September and October, Sue Sprung from Herbs for Healing visited the Community Green Hub to run some herbal medicine and tea tasting workshops. In October, the Community Green Hub saw the addition of a composting toilet, constructed on site thanks to advice from Bee Wirral.
In October and November, thanks to funding from the Liscard Community Grant Scheme, we hosted events at a number of different locations in Liscard. We brought upcycling sessions to six Liscard community groups, showing participants how to rejuvenate furniture with paint and decoupage techniques. We held a two day Eco Pop Up at the Cherry Tree Shopping Centre, demonstrating activities for a green and healthy lifestyle, with particular focus on energy and water awareness and efficiency, healthy plant based food options, low cost cooking, reducing food waste and growing your own. We also ran recycling information activities for community groups, involving interactive games and quizzes.
At the end of November, our Winter Fair offered the opportunity to buy some hand made Christmas gifts and table arrangements, with the Crafters and Reclaimers groups selling their products. There were upcycling demonstrations, a raffle and homemade cakes.
In November and December, we held Eco Crafts workshops at the St James Centre, making Christmas wreaths, willow weavings and Christmas chutney. We also ran Christmas wreath workshops at Falkland Road.
In December, we were thrilled when residents of one road in Prenton bought 19 of the Reclaimers’ Christmas trees made from wooden pallets and based their community event around them.
Other activities this year included:
- carbon literacy training for WEN’s team, trustees, members, learners and volunteers.
- helping to increase the number of organisations listed on the Mersey Green Map. There are now nearly 260 Wirral community groups, charities and businesses on the map, who are invited to bi-monthly networking sessions.
- working with Rethink Now CIC to hold online Cool Community Workshops and creating an online, self-directed learning package to help people understand Wirral’s Climate Change Strategy.
- operating a collection point for Wirral Free Uniform for Secondary Schools (FUSS) and Free Uniform for Primary Schools (FUPS).
- The Alleyways Project – working with Wirral Council to green up alleys and turn them into community gardens. The Reclaimers made recycled wooden containers for an alleyway in Birkenhead.
Thank you to our staff, trustees, volunteers, members, supporters, funders and partner organisations. You all helped us make a difference this year. Although there is a lot of uncertainty ahead, we look forward to what we can achieve together in 2022.