Home > bees, nature > The Lost Garden of Pevensey

The Lost Garden of Pevensey

13646755_10207057607224003_321679271_oOne of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever been engaged in has been the creation, over this summer of 2016, of a new community apiary on land leased by Incredible Edible Pevensey & Westham from a  local utility company. Working with bees is always a pleasure for me, but working with other volunteers to create an apiary for the benefit of the local community on land that is already rich in biodiversity and a rare oasis of nature in a rapidly urbanising landscape is particularly rewarding for me. We hope to harvest honey, one of nature’s true ‘wonder foods’, from our hives next year to share with the local community, and in time to train some of our volunteers up to help maintain the hives under the supervision of our head beekeeper.

Surrounded by many tall, mature trees and shrubs, the site is well screened off from prying eyes, and the very narrow access path leading into the site makes it feel like a ‘secret garden’, a ‘lost world’, that allows a playful escape from the manicured lawns, parks and streets of the local area. The site is pretty wild, having been free of any management for many years, which is part of the charm, as our merry band of volunteers have had great fun clearing away dead undergrowth and fallen tree branches to create little clearings, in the process discovering abandoned sheds and equipment from the time when the site was full of allotments. The clearings are now home to five beehives, each one housing a swarm collected by our head beekeeper and lovingly nourished by her as they grow into full-strength bee colonies. The honeybees share their new home with the abundant bumblebees and butterflies already on site, together with the many species of birds that flit in and out of the trees and bushes there.

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One of the serendipitous discoveries we made was the presence of three mature apple trees that have survived nearly being swallowed up by brambles and ivy. Given that Incredible Edible Pevensey & Westham is partly about creating sustainable sources of organic foods for  local people to share so as to increase the food resilience and food sovereignty of the local community, these apple trees are manna from heaven for us, and we have already harvested quite a few of the apples from them. With judicious pruning of the apple trees over this coming winter to restore them to full health and productivity, plus the planting of a lot more fruit and nut trees alongside them, we’ll be well on the way to creating a true ‘forest garden’.

Nature is under severe threat in the UK and wildlife sites are precious oases of nature now, especially locally because so many of our nearby green fields are being lost to vast new housing estates nearby. So I and my fellow volunteers on the project feel a deep sense of responsibility for managing the site sensitively in order to protect and enhance the biodiversity there. We see this not only as part of doing our bit to help nature, but also as providing a place where local people can still experience a little bit of the wildness that makes being in nature so rich an experience. For, after all, we are animals within a nature full of other animals. Indeed, we are nature, not a species apart from nature, and there is an inner wildness within us all that resonates with the wildness we find in nature. There is something deeply healing about working within wild nature, and working with a team of local volunteers to build a community that treasures that nature as well as benefits from it is, for me, deeply empowering.

If you wish to volunteer with this project, please contact incrediblepaw@aol.com or the Lead Co-ordinator for the apiary on 01323 460338 or 07402321382.

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Categories: bees, nature
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