Sheep! Chickens! Scythes! Sunshine!
Seriously, what more could we ask for from a Wednesday evening GoodGym task?! (Maybe slightly fewer nettle stings I suppose, if we're being picky.)
Phil welcomed us into Oxford City Farm with a brief introduction to the Farm and a run through the white board of proposed tasks. There are always plenty of jobs to be tackled at Oxford City Farm, so a GoodGym flash mob of volunteers is great for getting through lots of the 'to do' list in 1 evening.
Although we were very distracted by the curious trio of sheep we did manage to focus enough to grasp the tasks and divide into teams.
Operation fox-proof chicken coup headed to one corner of the farm. Despite security of Alcatraz proportions the fox had broken in and run amok. Chicken coup mark II will up the ante to out-fox the fox, but first all the undergrowth needed clearing from in and around the run and the aviary net. There was a bit of competition for the two mini-scythes, but loppers and secateurs were decent consolation prizes.
Meanwhile, in the mint patch, Sarah, Jocasta and Lorenzo had the most fragrant job of the evening, creating a woodchip path through the mixture of black pepper mint and Moroccan mint. (Not dwelling on the close proximity of the lambs to the mint...)
Everyone else split between chopping burdock and normal dock - largely decided by hair length (burdock burrs do LOVE to tangle in long hair). The burdock was grown deliberately but now needs some controlling and cutting back, to make space to plant pumpkins. The normal dock grows all around the farm site, and the plan was to cut as much of it back as possible before it has a chance to spread seed around. Burdock went to the compost pile, while dock went into the sheep enclosure for burning at a later date (presumably once the sheep have moved over to a different patch).
Oh the sheep enclosure!
Never before have we met sheep so willing to be in selfies, with such strong catalogue poses, nor ones with such a love of back rubs. While they seemed to find the dock tasty, their real love was all the attention. Shaun the Sheep holds a special place in all our hearts now.
We're revisiting Oxford City Farm - the site of the infamous axle-grinder use and Aoife-approved 'best GoodGym task EVER'.
There will be various tasks around the site; gardening, watering, general tidying and maintenance etc
Please bring your own gardening gloves for this task, and come equipped with a mask in case we get asked to do any work inside the classroom or kitchen areas.
The City Farm is behind the Isis Care Home on Cornwallis Road. We will meet at the gate to the farm at 6:15pm.
I (Anwen) will be jogging over from Oxford Mutual Aid, leaving the Richard Benson Hall at 6pm, so do feel free to meet there by 6pm for a 1 mile run to Oxford City Farm.
Another fabulous session completed at The Children's Allotment. This week we were able to admire the new polytunnel, complete with lovely new doors. It's been a long time coming, thanks to COVID, and it looks (and smells) brilliant.
As usual we had a warm welcome from Alice and her blackboard of tasks. This week the focus was on weeding, clearing grass cuttings, watering various areas of the allotment and laying down weed membrane and woodchip (our favorite!), and clearing the mud and weeds from the concrete path.
In true Goodgym fashion we all got stuck in. Long grass was raked and collected, bind weed was untangled from trees, strawberries and herb plants, raised beds, trees and grass seed was watered and various bits of rubble and rubbish was loaded into the skip. We also managed to lay down lots of weed membrane and started on the wood chipping to hopefully keep more weeds at bay!
It is always remarkable what a team of Goodgymers can achieve in just over an hour and we even managed to sample strawberries from a bed which we planted up in April!
A big well done to Matty on your tenth good deed - maybe the quickest new to 10 we've had so far, and thanks for your education on bugs!
Harvest@Home have a new allotment plot in South Oxford to use both to grow food for Cherwell Larder and to teach larder users how to grow their own fresh produce. The snag in the plan is that the plot has been unused for years and so the grass and brambles have now reached head height. Our challenge was to tame the wilderness! 17 GoodGymers, a car load of tools, and 1.5 hours; sounds doable.
We cut paths through the long grass to access the shed and swing/climbing frame, laid down weed-suppressing tarpaulins, unearthed glass and loads of junk hidden away all over the plot. Determined teams dismantled wire fencing which had become embedded in the soil and enmeshed in the long grass (a very difficult task!), while others unearthed the compost heap and weeded and lopped away, rediscovering the plot sign in the process.
The GoodGym flash mob treatment resulted in significant transformation of the allotment plot, which was very satisfying and made the hayfever snuffles just about bearable.
The next steps will be clearing more of the long grass (a strimmer may be required), laying cardboard down for further weed suppression, and getting started on some no-dig gardening.
Well done to Hattie on doing your 10th Good Deed - rather warmer and sunnier than your first one!
Due to the delay to the restart of Group Runs this is now the new listing as a Community Mission.
The Children's Allotment is a gorgeous space near Florence Park. Now that lockdown restrictions have eased we have a regular monthly slot to help the progress of the site.
Jobs typically include spreading wood chip, weeding, preparing beds (raised and otherwise) for planting, planting various lovely plants, sowing grass seed, building weed barriers, relaxing in the resident hammock..........
The poly tunnel now has a roof so we may well be planting up the raised beds!
All tools will be provided but please bring your own gardening gloves.
PLEASE NOTE: This was previously listed as a Group Run, now relisting as a Community Mission as restart of Group Runs is being delayed. Anyone who still wants to run I will be leaving Oxford Mutual Aid to run over at around 5:45pm.
Harvest@Home (part of the Cherwell Collective/Cherwell Larder) aims to provide the equipment and skills necessary for people to plant, care for, and harvest their very own produce at home. They have been popping up all over Cherwell district with seed swaps and advice sessions, and are establishing allotments both for teaching/community growing and to grow produce for the Cherwell Larder. We have already helped Harvest@Home and Cherwell Larder a few times in Kidlington, but tonight we will be in South HInksey with them instead.
The project have a new site at South Ward Allotments, near Redbridge Park & Ride, which needs a lot of clearing to make it usable. They plan to use the area for some experimental growing projects, but it is currently in a bad state, as it's been a dumping/littering ground for quite some time.
Please bring your sturdiest gardening gloves and shoes as there is quite a bit of broken glass around. (I appreciate those running won't have much choice in footwear, so please be careful on site.)
The allotments are a bit tricky to find, tucked away past the static caravan park and through a locked gate, so we will meet on the opposite side of the road from the Redbridge Household Waste Recycling Centre at 6:05pm (glamorous, I know!), and walk the last stretch as a group.
Georgia has completed their 15th good deed with GoodGym
We're becoming regulars at the Warneford Hospital, with monthly visits to the Highfield Unit. The Highfield Unit is the young person's mental health in-patient unit. It has a huge garden, which is lovely, but tricky to keep under control with limited gardening staff.
Since our last visit at the beginning of May the whole garden has undergone a growth spurt, and so we came prepared to do serious battle with brambles, weeds, and unruly shrubbery.
We split our team of 22 between 3 garden sections to work on the public area at the front of the unit, the area outside the dining room, and the furthest garden space (which we haven't worked on quite so much on previous visits). Loppers, secatueurs and wheel barrows were in high demand as we pruned, weeded, and detangled huge amounts of brambles, creating mountains of cuttings to be wheeled and dragged round the corner to the compost pile. In a few areas the windows of the young people's rooms were starting to get blocked by brambles and shrubs, so we particularly focused on trying to clear those so that they can look out onto the garden again and not have the daylight blocked out. Jessy and Hattie did an amazing job to clear the brambley corner which we've been meaning to get to on every visit, unearthing a lovely rosemary bush under all the thorns, and Matty proved to be the master of bramble root removal (all the practice at Marston Forest Garden at the weekend paying off). Out front the team unearthed a memorial plaque which had been hidden by the undergrowth, tamed the shrubs, and (less excitingly) removed the inevitable litter and discarded clothing tucked away amongst the plants. No pants found, which is a relief, but Vicky's homing instinct for clothing unearthed a Tshirt which has seen much better days.
It's easy to lose track of time when there's lots to do, particularly on a lovely summer evening with a hot air balloon floating overhead and plenty of chatter (dinner recipe top tips, and some quite philosophical analysis of walking going on). It turns out that bramble removal is worse than litter picking for needing to grab JUST ONE MORE before packing up! Still, over-running when it's a summery joy to be outside isn't a chore.
We'll be back at the Highfield Unit again before too long, as there's plenty of regular work needed in such a large garden. It can't be easy to have your child as an in-patient in any hospital, but knowing that they're in a pleasant environment hopefully goes some way towards making it a less traumatic experience.
We were very happy to have a GoodGymer-onTour from Newham tonight - good to meet you Justin.
Welcome Lasha - hope you enjoyed your first GoodGym experience.
We've been asked if we can help give the garden of the young person’s mental health unit, the Highfield, a good tidy up to get it ready for spring-/summer. There is only one gardener for the whole of the Warneford Hospital site, so it is a difficult to keep it all looking as good as it could.
It would be fantastic to improve the environment for young people struggling with their mental health - let's get to work!
The Highfield Unit has a large garden divided into 3 different sections, so we will split into teams to work in the different sections. We have also been asked to litter pick the whole hospital complex, so a further team will do that (if the key situation which prevented us from doing the litter pick last time is resolved!). It's spring clean time everywhere.
Please bring gardening gloves. Other tools will be provided.
Meeting point: on the lawn outside the main entrance of the Warneford Hospital. We will walk to the ward together from there, collecting the tools along the way.