Groundwork Luton & Bedfordshire has run Greening Up with two groups of Luton residents this year - the first started in January and ended in March, and the second began in May and finished in June.
Greening Up was made possible thanks to funding from the Wixamtree Trust and offered participants the chance to achieve a John Muir Discovery Award, which celebrates people exploring, understanding and conserving a local wild area, and sharing their experiences with other people.
The participants were mainly adults suffering from mental ill-health and other conditions that affect mental wellbeing, such as housing difficulties, learning disabilities and unemployment.
The first group explored Riverside Walk, along New Bedford Road, and Leagrave Park.
- Orientateering using OS maps.
- Fixed point photography - making picture frames out of found materials and hanging interesting natural aretefacts in them for passersby to see and admire.
- Hedge planting - restoring an original feature hedgerow of the site using local variety whips.
- Observing and recording the first signs of spring.
- Guided health walks along the river to learn more about its natural history and significance.
- Photography - the group then shared their photos with each other.
- Twig and fungi identification.
- Guided health walks around the park to learn more about its biodiversity and historical significance as a neolithic settlement.
- Bird watching.
- Improvement works to a footpath leading through Rotten Spinney - sourcing fallen tree limbs from around the site to create path edges and wooden stakes to fix them in place.
- Brash clearance in areas of the site where brambles were taking over.
- Building insect homes for the group to take away and share with other people, encouraging greater biodiversity in their own and other people's gardens.
In total 10 people participated in this course, and five completed enough hours to achieve the John Muir Discovery Award.
Improving the path through Rotten Spinney.
The second group continued work in Leagrave Park, with a focus on the Source of the River Lea.
They spent their time transplanting reeds and sedge from further downstream to the source, which had become barren due to silt build-up, waste in the river, and poor filtration. The transplantation was designed to improve natural filtration of water as it enters the river as well as to beautify the area.
In total 8 people took part in this course, with three completing enough hours to achieve the John Muir Discovery Award.
Hard at work transplanting sedges at the Source of the River Lea.