FoEP: Improving the Park for the benefit of the whole community
Click pictures for larger view.
July has been a busy month for the Friends of Eastfield Park with various events and activities during 'Love Parks Week' (12th to 20th July), inspections of the Park for 'Northampton in Bloom' on 8th and 11th July, and a survey of the set-aside areas and sown meadow by Matt Johnson from the local Wildlife Trust on 23rd July.
Love Parks Week kicked off with a 'Clean-up' of the Park on Saturday 13th July: A smaller group than usual were involved in the clean-up, just ten adults and four children, plus Clayton, a Park Ranger, who helped us set up and pack away and one other FoEP member who did an hour's litter picking on the Friday. Together, this represented over 21 hours of community effort (>16 adult hours and >5 child hours). The volunteers collected 8 sacks of non-recyclable materials (black) and 5 sacks of mainly bottles and cans for potential recycling (white) plus the inevitable shopping trolley! The sacks were piled up at the Skiddaw Walk entrance for collection by Veolia on Monday. Regrettably, the sacks were not picked up until the Thursday but we did receive a personal apology from a Veolia manager for the delay.
A steady stream of children visited our Kite Flying event on Thursday 18th July but we did not have the numbers we hoped for. We think that in future it might be better to hold it a later in the day so that children can go home for some tea and then come back to the Park later to fly kites. As it was, the largest numbers were present when it was time to pack up. It was also disappointing that, as in 2018, the wind was not strong enough to get the kites flying well. There is not much we can do about that except, perhaps, to have some other activities in mind if the weather is not suitable. We do need more volunteers to help with this kind of event, otherwise we may have to abandon it entirely.
The above activities were all organised by the FoEP but during the week a number of other activities took place in the Park including a Northampton Leisure Trust Health Walk, Northampton Leisure Trust Street Sports Taster Sessions in the MUGA, a Parklands Jog and Run Group Fitness Session and Northampton Town Football Club Community Trust Free Fun Football Sessions. The FoEP also held its regular monthly meeting during the week!
Eight people, including leaders, took part in the 'Heritage Walk' on Saturday 20th July. We walked from the Spinney Hill Pub, up the Kettering Road, past the entrance to Manfield Grange, and through the gap into Eden Close. We then briefly looked at the site of the now demolished Eastfield House, before entering Eastfield Park where we visited a number of sites of interest before returning to the Kettering Road via Apple Tree Walk. Vic Smith, leading the walk, produced a number of maps and pictures to show what the area was like in earlier times. Weather for the walk was not brilliant and the walkers suffered a short but heavy shower while in the Park. Vic feels that the walk is certainly worth doing again, possibly taking a slightly different route through the Park.
In recent years, the Friends of Eastfield Park have entered both the Borough's Northampton in Bloom and the Royal Horticultural Society's It's Your Neighbourhood (IYN) competitions. Last year, we received a 'gold' award for 'In Bloom' and were placed in a 'Thriving' (2nd highest) category for IYN. Both competitions involve an inspection of our work and, in recent years, both inspections have been carried out by Paul Townsend, a Neighbourhood Warden specially qualified to do this task.
This year things were slightly different. The insect-friendly herbaceous border created by the FoEP along the west-facing fence separating the Park from Eleonore House, is now maintained by staff and children from St Gregory's Primary School in Grange Road. The School has included the border as part of its own entry in Northampton in Bloom so it received a separate inspection from Paul Townsend. This took place on 11th July when representatives from the FoEP were present. It was very pleasing to see how well children answered Paul's questions about flowers growing in the garden and also concerning the insect pollinators they attract.
The inspection of the FoEP's own work in the Park, on 8th July, also went well and Paul seemed particularly impressed with the work carried out on informal footpaths through the Park's wooded areas. He also admired the range of plants growing in the seeded meadow next to the north-facing fence separating the Park from Eleonore House. He asked that his thanks should be passed on to all the FoEP volunteers who worked in the Park.
On 23rd July, Matt Johnson (the local Wildlife Trust’s Living Landscapes Manager), carried out brief surveys of the Park's set-aside areas and seeded meadow. Matt recorded 24 species of forb (herbaceous flowering plants that are not grasses) and 13 species of grass in the two areas he looked at most closely. Because the seeded meadow includes plants introduced as seeds, as well as some of the Park's 'natural' flora, it is not surprising that the greatest range of plants is found in that area (21 forbs compared to 14 in the largest set-aside). Nevertheless, the Park's natural meadow flora is impressive and must be conserved. Both Matt and Paul Townsend commented on the numbers and variety of insects attracted by these managed areas. Matt's full results will be included in a report about the Park's water resources and vegetation written later in the year.
2018 compared with 1945.
Walk shown by yellow line.
Click to enlarge.