On the Verge of what?
As you may have heard, Seaford Community partnership has been awarded project development funds from the National Lottery, towards the Ouse Valley Cares project. One of the key aims of the project is “protecting and regenerating habitats and green spaces”.
Our green spaces and wildlife corridors also need to be accessible and enjoyable for the residents and visitors that use them.
“On the Verge” is a volunteer led project to connect green corridors across and between communities with the wider countryside and National Park. It is a partnership between “Trees for Seaford” who have been planting trees in Seaford for many years, and Seaford Environmental Alliance, who are an active hub for community projects in Seaford which will help tackle the effects of climate change and the ecological emergency.
We work with local partners including the South Downs National Park, local authorities, schools and ecologists, but we could not do this without the energy and enthusiastic from volunteers in our community. If you are interested in joining our informal group or working parties, or spreading the word as one of our green space ambassadors, do get in touch. No experience is needed!
In the few months since we have formed, we have been as busy as the bees we are trying to attract! It started with lots of enthusiastic zoom meetings, and a team of volunteers out surveying the verges and green spaces to build a “green” map of Seaford. Thankfully we can also start to meet outside in the green spaces we all love! A team effort also produced some attractive leaflets that we can give out to people interested in our project. Do ask us for some, if you would like to spread the word!
We are working with the council and contractors to change the mowing regimes on some verges and grass areas to create “mini meadows”. This will allow wild flowers to blossom, and set seed before they are cut, which will improve diversity. Areas agreed so far include areas in the Martello Fields, The Salts, The Covers, the Crouch and Princess Drive Green. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to survey what plants and wildlife come into our green spaces. We have also worked together to ensure that mowing does not take place too close to the precious young trees that have been planted in our town.
We are working on two pilot “Nature Streets”. Nature Streets are a Sussex Wildlife Trust initiative to get people to work with their neighbours to create small coordinated wildlife friendly features in their gardens and verges, so that flowers can flourish, pollinators and other insects can thrive, which in turn encourage birds and mammals into our gardens.
Our first pilot “nature street” project is Saltwood Road (and nearby Millberg Road). Volunteers visited this site recently, partly for regular maintenance sessions of the trees there, but also to spread the word with neighbours about the Nature Streets project. A fun way of engaging with people was to use our “On the Verge” pebble creatures (created in a recent outdoor workshop) to show what creatures you might find in the longer grass.
Pebble creatures to raise awareness of the creatures that rely on flowering plants
Our second nature street is Maurice Road, which is a very different private road positioned as a fantastic gateway right onto the coastal nature reserve of Seaford Head. We hope to run some roadshows later in the year, at these locations and spread awareness of what people can do to improve the diversity in their verges and gardens.
Supporting groups in Seaford
We are very happy to work with other local groups that want to improve diversity and encourage wildlife in their green spaces.
Recently we were delighted to hear that our partner Annecy School had been successful in their application for a “Learning Through Landscapes” Nature School grant. This gives the school £500 of equipment and training for staff, and they will use this for their food growing project. We’re looking forward to our other projects at the school: planting a hedgerow, trees and creating a mini meadow.
We were also very excited to support the plans of the “Friends of Sutton Downs” community group who are planning to plant community orchards, and meadows in the area round the playing fields of the Downs Leisure Centre site.
Fantastic news too that a new community wildlife garden has developed at Beach Close after a visit by “On the Verge” volunteers. The residents have identified some wonderful plants that survive the salt winds and this knowledge will be invaluable to share with the “Sea Meadows” project at the Martello Fields/Pump Fields
We’ve recently been attending some Tree Council webinars about hedgerows, are planning a plant identification gathering on the Martello Fields and are holding a “Buglife” workshop to learn how to survey the pollinators and plants. It’s by no means all work, we want our volunteers to enjoy our green spaces, so walks, picnics, musical events and more, are all on our agenda too.
Most importantly make a note in your diary for the free Eco Fair on 1st August (12pm to 4pm) in the Salts where you will be able to get involved with some “On the Verge” activities such as wild flower seed sowing, bug pebble painting and sign making, not to mention meeting lots of other fantastic groups who are passionate about tackling climate change in Seaford.
It’s important to remember that small steps all help. So if you’re not keen to convert your entire garden to wild flowers, perhaps you could just keep some areas of grass longer, or a patch of nettles in a corner? Do you have space for a pot of pollinator friendly cultivated plants? The more people who get involved, the more we can improve our green corridors for the whole town!
Perhaps you could help build awareness by sharing your sightings and photographs of bees and butterflies. Look out for the Bumblebee Trust’s “Bees Needs” week from 12-18th July, and Butterfly Conservation’s “Great Butterfly hunt” which starts on 16 July. Do let us know what you see!
Many thanks to Fran at Seaford Scene.