“GROVE PIECE CELEBRATION DRAWS A CROWD”
On a shivering misty morning in late December 2016, at the end of an unforgettable year, and beyond the end of a long slippery muddy path came a bunch of enthusiastic and curious supporters. Posters promised a treasure hunt, a tree to plant, food and drink - no-one was disappointed. After being given the Licence to Occupy the Grove Piece field, this was our first experience of carrying everything to the field in barrows and bags. Gingerbread stars, Bramfield cider, hot potatoes, more mince pies and hot coffee gave us enough energy to tramp to the centre and see Ann Edwards plant the first hornbeam, echoing the legacy of splendid coppiced specimens in Vicarage Grove. Three misty-breathed cheers then some of the brave ones continued over the sticky clay to admire the hedges, and peer down into the ponds beyond the borders. This year our new pond will be dug on the water-logged patch near the eastern boundary. By the end of this year we should be the proud owners of this beautiful plot - thanks to already very successful fund-raising by past and present steering group members.
In mid-January, after snow in the morning, sun came out and we walked along the windy footpaths to Grove Piece with Years 6 and 7 and family members to launch the first planting programme. Having lifted the latest batch of oak seedlings from the school tree nursery, they planted them in the sunniest patch of the plot. Wading ankle-deep in the sticky clay, they managed to ease in the roots, secure the trees with guards and stakes, then mulched them with straw and clods. It was a wonderful thing for us all to stand back and see the beginnings of new woodland. There should be some good publicity too, as we had a reporter and photographer from the East Anglian Daily News to record the event. A fine way to start another extraordinary year, connecting up more and more corridors of natural diversity and laying down a legacy for years to come, while engaging an ever-broadening sweep of the community.