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CROW (Conserve Reading on Wednesdays)
Wednesday, 25th July 2012
Five a Day Market Garden, Englefield ~ Building a composting area (with company volunteers)

With the temperature approaching 30°C, probably the hottest day of the year so far, CROW joined company volunteers from Everything Everywhere to build a composting area at the Five a Day Market Garden. The area was to consist of four bays enclosed at the sides and back, open at the top and front. Three of the bays were to hold compost while the fourth was for temporary storage of woody material to be chipped or burnt. The bays where to be built from wooden posts and boards.

For Everything Everywhere it was a team building day giving colleagues based at offices in London, Hatfield and Bristol the chance to meet.

Until now all waste material and weeds from the Market Garden had been placed on a steady growing heap and was not being utilised. Unfortunately the heap occupied what was to be the site of the new bays and the first job was to clear the area. While the volunteers from Everything Everywhere where given an introduction to the site, CROW started clearing the existing heap, recently added material to one pile, composted material to another, and wood and other rubbish to a third.

Given the weather and the amount of material to be moved, we knew we would not complete the task in one day. As our plan indicates, the very most we hoped to achieve was the clearing of sufficient space for and the construction of, two bays.

Perhaps now is not the best time to recall that only a week earlier we had been adding to this heap.

With the briefing over and everyone familiar with the tools and task, we all get busy clearing. However having around twenty people working in close proximately with forks, spades and mattocks is not an entirely satisfactory situation from a health and safety point of view, so it was the ideal time for the CROW team to take a break and have a well deserved cup of coffee.

With coffee over the CROW team return to find excellent progress has been made.

With sufficient space cleared construction of the first bay can commence.

We had been assured that the rats which had occupied the existing heap had departed, and we only found mice, voles and most pleasingly of all a slowworm, the latter having been introduced to the site last year in the hope of establishing a colony.

Lunchtime and we are amazed by what has already been achieved.

Back to work but with almost no shade the heat begins to take its toll.

While Nicky and Dave are busy with the construction everyone else seems to have opted for an extended lunch and who can blame them?

Nicky and Dave's construction skills proved invaluable.

Those who know CROW may be wondering where the Everything Everywhere volunteers are. Too busy to pose for photo's seems to be the answer as from the outset they had thrown themselves into the task and the virtual disappearance of the original heap, see reminder below, is more than ample proof of their hard work.

Putting the finishing touches on the second bay .....

..... while material for composting is already being stacked in the first bay.

With the time approaching three o'clock and two bays finished, CROW decided it was time to say their farewells. The Everything Everywhere volunteers wanted to continue with the third bay but having finished the back they too decided to call it a day, some heading off to the Garden Centre opposite for some retail therapy.

With two and a half bays completed and the site virtually cleared we had far exceeded the most we hoped to achieve. Pam from the Five a Day Market Garden was delighted.

Thanks to everyone involved for what was an enjoyable and rewarding day, and in particular to those from Everything Everywhere who though more used to working at a desk tackled the task with such enthusiasm.

CROW volunteers for the day: Judith O, Alan, Nicky and Dave (pictured above), together with Mary (who kindly provided the photo's), Barry, Bob, Jackie and Judith Q.

The Conservation Volunteers are due to be at the site in two weeks, on the 9th August, when we hope they will complete the task.

The task organised and planned by Econet following a call from TimeBank, a national charity who arrange volunteering events.

Thanks to The Conservation Volunteers and to Maiden Erlegh Local Nature Reserve for providing the additional tools, and in particular to Ricki for bringing the augurs (which we did not use - sorry) and to Oonagh for making an extra journey to drop off the mell which I had forgotten and which we did use.

Thanks also to the Five a Day Market Garden for providing the refreshments and especially to their volunteers who made the cakes. Yummy!