Monday, 25 July 2016

Sholing Valleys - a Local Nature Reserve in Southampton

from Adam Manning

Some years ago, my wife and I moved into our first house together. This was in Sholing in Southampton and we soon set about exploring the local area. Quite by chance, we came across a beautiful open area which we later learned was called Sholing Valleys.

We had a march across the wide, flower dotted greenery and then returned home, wondering what this was.  Later research revealed that this was part of an area known locally as Sholing Valleys and this included Miller's Pond, one of the larger bodies of water on that side of Southampton.

There has, for many years, been a well established group looking after the area, which includes a wood, a flower meadow and the pond. They operate from the Sholing Valleys Study Centre, a building which includes resources for people (including children) to learn more about the wildlife and ecosystem of the area.  I first went along to one of their conservation days in early 2010 and was immediately made to feel very welcome.  Candice, one of the keenest members of the volunteer group, told me more about what they do and their aims.

Candice, super volunteer, at Miller's Pond

Part of their activities includes regular conservation days at the centre. These are normally on the last Sunday of each month (they have August off as a holiday) and are great fun.  The volunteers are friendly and welcoming and it is a like a gathering of good friends when they meet. The conservation work includes coppicing, litter picking (which is my favourite), planting and pruning.  Junior volunteers can also take part in nature surveys where they can learn more about the wildlife in the area.

Sholing Valleys Study Centre

In 2011, Sholing Valleys Study Centre became a Local Nature Reserve. This was well deserved recognition for the value of the area and the valuable work the volunteers put in.  This shows the great difference that volunteers can make and the changes this can bring about.  Green Hampshire were delighted to be present at the celebrations to mark the award.

Max Thompson from Green Hampshire at Sholing Valleys

I've always enjoyed my time at Sholing Valleys.  Volunteering is a good thing to do in itself but it is also good for you. It makes me feel happy and contented to take part and my hope is that volunteering can do this for you as well.

We have two vlogs about volunteering with Sholing Valleys - do have a look :

This vlog includes a chat with Colin Oliphant, the current chairman, who, amongst other things, discusses the origins of the group.

Candice also explains more about their conservation work in these two videos:

To find out more about Sholing Valleys, have a look at their Facebook page:

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Friends of Peartree Green

from Adam Manning

The Friends of Peartree Green are an energetic group of volunteers looking after a beautiful area on the eastern side of Southampton, Hampshire.  Peartree Green is on high ground and overlooks the River Itchen.

My daughter and I enjoyed taking part in a litter pick with the Friends earlier in the year and we were very pleased to met Pat, one of the members of the group. She explained that their long term goal is for Peartree Green to be adopted as a Local Nature Reserve.

Here is our vlog about the Friends of Peartree Green and special thanks to Pat for spending some time during their litter pick to record this.

You can find out more about the Friends of Peartree Green from their Facebook page:

Junior litter picker at Peartree Green

Volunteers at Peartree Green

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Local finalists in line for Hampshire Countryside Award

A diverse selection of projects across Hampshire have made the shortlist for the 10th annual Countryside Awards.

The awards celebrate a beautiful and living countryside that everyone can value and enjoy and are organised by charity CPRE Hampshire, the Campaign to Protect Rural England in association with The Southern Co-operative.

The Hampshire finalists 2016 by local area and award category are:

East Hampshire, Winchester District and North Hampshire

Community and Voluntary category:

Medstead Village Pond – Medstead Parish Council are creating a central village pond and woodland copse connected to a wildflower walk for children and families.

A Celebration of Petersfield, A Town and its People – The Petersfield Society have created a book which celebrates the life of Petersfield today set within a beautiful landscape in the midst of the South Downs.

Rural Enterprise category:

Farley Nursery School at Sparsholt – Farley Nursery School is an outdoor nursery where the children experience the wonders of nature at first hand.

Taste of Wickham is a creative event staged by the Taste of Wickham Organising Team which showcases the market town’s local businesses and organisations and engages people with local produce through tastings, demonstrations and interaction with those working in the industry.

Sustainable Buildings category:

Ringbourne Copse in Barton Stacey is part of a new housing development of 19 homes in the village, comprising seven affordable homes providing much needed housing for local people with a connection to the area (Aster Group, Bargate Homes and AAP Architects).

Woodgarth, North Hampshire - a spacious, environmentally sustainable and energy efficient individual house on the site of a large residential plot in North Hampshire (Ayre Chamberlain Gaunt Architects).

New Forest

Community and Voluntary category:

The Tiptoe Green in Tiptoe, Lymington - a community project which provides an all-purpose open space for the village and visitors, and conserves and promotes the natural environment.

Young People category:

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust have set up a new Young Naturalists Group at Blashford Lakes, Ringwood to inspire and support 13 – 17 year olds who are enthusiastic about nature.

The Woodlander Hoburne Bashley project reconnects young people with the woodlands at Hoburne Bashley in New Milton through education and recreation.

South Hampshire

Community and Voluntary category:

Priddy’s Hard Ramparts Heritage Area (PHRHA) is a volunteer project to de-litter, restore, conserve and maintain a formerly derelict ancient monument comprising moated earthwork ramparts and listed buildings. It now provides a biodiverse area of countryside in the heart of Gosport.

The Solent Way Project is run by The Conservation Volunteers with support from Hampshire County Council to improve access along the 60-mile Solent Way footpath. The project has engaged with the community through volunteering opportunities, training and events.

Young People category:

Putting the Fare in Fareham by Wicor Primary School in Portchester – the project aims to engage the children in learning about their natural world, ecology, sustainability, food production and cookery, whilst making it locally relevant.

Sustainable Buildings category:

Butser Education CIC, working with the South Downs Coppice and Craft Centre, have created the Chalton Saxon House at Butser Ancient Farm, Chalton, Waterlooville. The building is composed entirely of natural, renewable materials and showcases traditional rural skills.

Re-development of Park Community School, Havant – a partnership project involving Children’s Services and Property Services at Hampshire County Council to create a learning and community facility in the heart of the local community of Leigh Park, Havant.

Test Valley 

Community and Voluntary category:

Andover Trees United ‘In the Community’ project involves as many people as possible through a diverse programme of events linked to the land, how we can care for it and learn from it.

Rural Enterprise category:

The Braishfield Village Pantry is a community hub providing a shop and café in the village hall.

The individual Award category sponsors are Community and Voluntary - The Southern Co-operative, Young People - Steve’s Leaves, Rural Enterprise - Dutton Gregory Solicitors, and Sustainable Buildings - Radian.

Awards judges are visiting all projects this summer before making their decision on the overall winners. All the finalists will be invited to the Countryside Awards Ceremony on 15th September 2016 near Winchester, where the winners will be announced by the Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire.