For the fourth year running we were delighted to play host to more than 150 13/14 year old pupils from Bede Academy in Blythe on their annual environment day.
Their work that day helped us to deliver part of our National Lottery funded Wind in the Willows Project to restore and maintain natural habitats on our 110 acre estate.
It’s definitely a hands-on day for the students as they get to grips with cutting back the rhododendrons, nettles and bracken which are choking out other plants in the woodland, and removing the flag iris which is blocking up the ponds.
Apart from a few wasp stings there were no injuries, despite working with sharp tools as they coppiced trees with loppers and saws and built fires to burn the deadwood.
“We’re looking to create a woodland that you can see into and walk around,” said Andrew Pennington, the environmental consultant helping Minsteracres to manage its estate. “If we can remove the non-native species which are taking over, we can restore the biodiversity in the woods and ponds and bring back species like the red squirrels which have been forced out.
“The pupils also helped us in the walled garden planting fruit bushes, peas, beans and sunflowers. It’s all part of our drive to become self-sufficient, improving the environment and reducing our carbon footprint,” he added.
Despite an impromptu downpour, most of the pupils were in high spirits and enjoyed the day. Andrew’s passion for seeing inter-generational work in practice was in evidence throughout the day as the young people worked alongside our older volunteers.
“The gap between 13/14 year olds and Alan, who at 81 is our oldest volunteer, was not apparent as they worked together – they both gained from the experience and that’s something I love to see.
“There’s something about working with the soil that brings people together. Our volunteers bring their experience as draughtsmen, builders and plumbers and conversation flows.
“I think it’s inspiring – everyone is the same as they work on a task.”