The Easter weekend is upon us; schools are on holiday; visitor numbers have increased and the weather looks pretty good. Unlike Christmas, Easter falls on a different date each year, the first Sunday after the full Moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox. If the full Moon falls on a Sunday then Easter is the next Sunday.
One consequence of this is that Easter is a generally good time to start planting up your vegetable plot. The soil should be warm enough and the risk of frost is less and less as each day passes. I know I will be spending time on my allotment over the weekend planting some seeds directly into the ground and some in pots and trays ready to be planted out in May once the risk of a late frost has passed.
This week’s Blog definitely has a food theme about it.
Bridport Primary School – Edible Garden
Thanks to a lot of hard work by a number of people, Bridport Primary School now has an edible garden. What, you might ask, is an edible garden? An edible garden is a garden that contains flowers, herbs, seeds, berries and plants that you can eat. As such it is a fantastic way to introduce children to the idea of growing and eating a wide range of edible plants.
The garden is located on a slightly challenging sloping site but what to some would be seen as a disadvantage, the team has looked upon it positively and the more difficult area is going to be turned into a wild forest garden. Already in place is a fantastic, well stocked shed big enough for a small group to shelter in if they are caught in a shower. The raised beds and large poly tunnel will enable the garden to produce a wide range of delicious food plants throughout the year.
When I went along to the official opening I was really impressed by what I saw. It was great to see the garden filled with children, parents, helpers and teachers all keen to tell me how pleased they were with the garden and the opportunities it is going to make possible. I, for one, can’t wait to go back later in the year and see what they have been growing.
We are very fortunate to live in a part of the country that produces so much fantastic produce from both land and sea. Combine that with all of our wonderful farm shops, high street and village shops, restaurants, cafes and other places where we can buy and consume it and we are spoilt for choice. Despite all that we have available to us, it is all too easy to simply go to a supermarket and purchase what we eat. Encouraging consumers to shop local as much as possible is key to maintaining and expanding what we have available to us from our doorstep.
On Sunday Anne and I were invited to the launch of a new app – Jurassic Feast. The event was hosted by Mark Hix in his famous Lyme Regis restaurant, The Oyster and Fish House, where those present were able to sample some of the delicious local food and drinks available at a discounted price via the Jurassic Feast App.
Why do we need another app?
- The Jurassic Feast App gives you, the consumer, the opportunity to save money whilst supporting the local food economy.
- Research shows that £10 spent with a local independent shop means up to an additional £50 goes back into the local economy.
- The shorter the field to fork journey, the lower the environmental impact.
- Independent stores bring originality to high streets and help shape the identity of the local area. Supporting local businesses by spending there has a positive effect on jobs in the area.
- Small local businesses are the largest supplier of jobs nationally.
- Local employers are reported to be more likely to pay higher average wages compared to commercial chains.
To find out more and download the Jurassic Fields APP click on the link: Jurassic Feast
Bridport Community Orchard – wildlife report
I am grateful to Paul Arthur who sent me the following description of the native species that visit and inhabit the Bridport Community Orchard, the much loved, productive green space in the heart of town.
We had a mild, windy winter, with several named storms felling a number of trees in the local area, but thankfully no serious damage in the community orchard. The first snow of the winter fell in a brief shower on Thursday 31 March! It didn’t settle, but did show us that winter still has some surprises to deliver.
Spring is now well and truly making itself felt. We have lots of wild flowers getting into their stride, with celandines, primroses, dandelions, daises, lords and ladies, and white dead nettle all providing food for our pollinators. We even have a small patch of wild daffodils.
Have you noticed how wild flowers in early spring are often white or yellow in colour? This is because a lot of the early spring pollinators are flies, which lack colour vision, meaning they can’t see colours the way humans do. White and yellow reflect plenty of light, which shows the flowers up against their green and brown backgrounds and are therefore easier to find by the flying insects.
In our pond, we had some frogspawn in March, which has now disappeared. There are a few tadpoles, but not as many as a few years ago, for reasons currently unknown. However, there are plenty of newts in the pond (and one of their foods is tadpoles!) and this could be one of the contributory factors. The pond skaters have made a welcome return, as they float about on the surface of the pond, hunting for tiny prey.
Birds recently seen in the orchard include a pair of great tits, blue tits, robins, goldfinches, a dunnock, starlings, and blackbirds. We were also recently visited by a great spotted woodpecker, which could then be heard ‘drumming’ in a nearby silver birch tree, as it hunts for insect prey. We also heard our first chiffchaff on 13 March.
Our gorse bush is sporting a proliferation of yellow flowers, April being its most vivid month of the year. This is an unusual plant, in that it is virtually always in flower to some extent, and this spawned the famous saying, “When gorse is not in flower, kissing is out of fashion!”.
During the warm weather of late March, we were lucky to see a number of brimstone butterflies, rather more than in recent years. We’ve also been visited by peacocks and small tortoiseshells, which have over wintered as adults and emerge in early spring for their first feast of nectar from the wild flowers that are scattered through the orchard.
Cherry and blackthorn are already in lovely blossom. Some of our fruit trees that blossom early, such as the gages, need protection from frosts with fleece, otherwise fruits will not set.
So here’s to welcoming Spring with all of its wildlife wonders!
What better way could there be to celebrate the coming of spring than Mayfest on Monday 2 May in the Community Orchard from 12.00 – 3.00. Alongside the traditional celebrations including the crowning of the May Queen and Jack-in-the-Green, there will be refreshments, games, a range of music, dancing and other entertainment (and some lovely sheep to set the scene).
Bridport Gardening Club – Spring Show
Saturday saw the return, after two years absence due to the pandemic, of the Bridport Gardening Club Spring Show. The produce, preserves, craft items and photographs which had been entered and were on view for all to see were of the highest order.
I was particularly impressed by the range of daffodils on display. Although already aware that there was a large number of different varieties, it is not until you see so many of them gathered together that you fully appreciate how diverse and beautiful they all are. The multi headed white ones are a variety I will certainly be looking to grow in future.
In addition to admiring everything on display, the show is a great opportunity to talk to people about their passion for growing, preserving and crafting. Their passion for what they do is intoxicating and there is always something you can learn from them.
As far as I am concerned everyone who entered something is a winner, but inevitably in any competition somebody has to come out on top. On Saturday Charlie McCormick was the overall winner, and deservedly so, the amaryllis he entered was the envy of everyone who entered or visited the show, myself included.
Weymouth Civic Day
Last Tuesday was Weymouth Civic Day. A Civic Day is an opportunity for a town to invite Mayors from across Dorset to join them to learn more about their town.
I have visited Weymouth on many occasions and thought I knew it quite well. But when you are shown round by someone local who really knows a place your eyes are opened. Weymouth is big, 20% of the population of the Dorset Council area live there. It has a rich history and some beautiful buildings dating back several centuries. Weymouth has some lovely green spaces including the recently refurbished Radipole Park Gardens and the Tumbledown Project .
I was most surprised to find Weymouth’s beautiful sandy beach and seafront is seagull free. The reason being there are no takeaway food outlets along the seafront only sit down cafes and resturants. Unlike the Weymouth harbour area, where the takeaway food outlets are located and where the seagulls are a menace.
The visit ended at Nothe Fort https://nothefort.org.uk/ which has a fascinating history and is a great place to visit as a family or as a historian. One of the activities Anne and I found ourselves engaging in whilst there was going back to school in the 1950s and using a pen and inkwell again – grim.
Much as I enjoyed my visit and will certainly be visiting again, I am extremely pleased that I live in Bridport.
South West England – Tourism Excellence Awards
West Bay Discovery Centre – Gold Award
On Thursday night West Bay Discovery Centre won GOLD in the Ethical, Responsible & Sustainable Business Award. It is a really impressive achievement considering we were up against other top businesses and visitor attractions from the South West’s six counties and Bath and Bristol.
The judges were really impressed at everything they have done to both manage the centre sustainably and spread awareness of the issues. In particular they loved the ‘Turning the Tide’ plastics exhibition and associated events last year as well as all their efforts to reduce plastics in the shop. The judge said, “This is an attractive small museum with a very positive feel about it. Only opened in 2018 it is a place for every age; it is also accessible to all with free admission and the thoughtful placing of low screens and panels for those with special needs. There are bright and informative displays, both historical based particularly on Bridport and surrounding area and of course the sea. I for one learned about ‘nurdles’ for the first time! It has a strong environmental and sustainable ethos which is manifested in the policies and practices. The use of volunteers with only one paid employee appears to be very successful.”
The beautiful glass trophy is far too big to fit in their award display case – so it is currently in the stormy seas area of the centre. Make sure to admire it when you next visit. West Bay Discovery Centre is entirely reliant on its amazing volunteers, and thanks them this fantastic little visitor centre punches well above its weight and goes from strength to strength. If you have not visited yet I strongly recommend West Bay Discovery Centre as having something for all ages to enjoy together. West Bay Discovery Centre
Highlands End Holiday Park- Gold Award
Highlands End Holiday Park won Gold in the Holiday Park of the Year category. Competing against against other top businesses and visitor attractions from the South West’s six counties and Bath and Bristol this award is a real achievement and much deserved.
This award comes on top offing named the overall winner at the Bridport Business Awards,Highlands End was the gold winner in the holiday park of the year category at the Dorset Tourism Awards, making it the best holiday park in the county for this year.
In additionHighlands End Holiday Park has been awarded the highest level of award by the AA, which marked it as a 5 pennant campsite with an additional pennant award, putting it in the top 5% of Holiday Parks in the country. Highlands End Holiday Park
Homes For Ukraine – update
The Town Council has created some information for hosts and guests on our website at https://www.bridport-tc.gov.uk/homes-for-ukraine/. The site includes a film made by Bridport Refugee Support Campaign to welcome a refugee family now living in Bridport which has been updated to be relevant to any Ukrainian people coming to live here as a result of the conflict.
The Town Council has also established a closed (private) Facebook group for hosts/guests, at https:// www.facebook.com/groups/2322778017863133.
We have half a dozen host members already, and the Bridport Refugee Support Campaign is providing its expertise on the page. I understand we may see the first guests arriving in the area in the next week or so
Please share, and let me have any feedback on the content – this is a work-in-progress! It is in addition to guidance from the government, Dorset Council, and Help & Kindness, and the content links to all of them.
Our amazing Town Clerk, Will Austin has registered himself as the local contact for the Bridport area for local enquiries, via 01308 456722 or [email protected].