Feast on the Farm – Win a Family Ticket!

On Saturday 6th & Sunday 7th October, Feast on the Farm returns for its second year.

Hosted at the delightful Peterley Manor Farm in Great Missenden, over the two days you can expect appearances from local chefs and restaurants who collectively are making the Chilterns a foodie destination. There will be more immersive workshops with a programme of Chef’s masterclasses, butchery, wine tasting, fermentation, baking and a series of Instagram photography masterclasses. There will be a sumptuous array of food offerings AND they’ll be unveiling the brand new ‘The Secret Garden Pergola’; a wild garden full of delights including locally produced wines and gins.

Tickets are on sale now but if you fancy the chance of winning one of TWO sets of family tickets (one set for each day of the event), all you need to do is email us to let us know who is your favourite Chilterns food or drink producer and why!

Competition closes on Sunday 23rd September.
A family ticket consists of two adults & two children.

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‘Dr. Anne’ Day at Ewelme

The fifth annual ‘Dr. Anne’ Day was held at the Ewelme Watercress Beds on 21st August. Dr. Anne (Millar), who died in 2013 after serving the local community for three decades, was passionate about wildlife and involving children in outdoors nature activities.

16 Children aged six to eleven attended and enjoyed a fun morning of activities in the sunshine. The morning kicked off with opening some moth traps which had been set overnight. The children were delighted to find three Poplar Hawkmoths, which very obligingly sat on their hands to be examined at close quarters. The activities on offer this year included:

  • A photo competition on the theme of ‘patterns’
  • Pebble art – painting animal designs on pebbles
  • Bunting decorating – the children decorated bunting which will be on display at future events
  • A bird themed scavenger hunt, where the children had to find pictures of birds hidden around the site and identify the species

These activities were followed by a BBQ and the morning ended with the now obligatory boat race where the children raced boats made during the morning – this year on the theme of ‘pirate ships’.

The event is run by the Ewelme Watercress beds education team and the Benson Nature Group. The team are all passionate about nature and the environment and the importance of getting children involved from an early age. The Ewelme Watercress Beds give plenty of scope to offer a wide variety of educational activities and is a great resource to have on our doorsteps.

 

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Heritage Photo Exhibition at All Saints Church, High Wycombe

As part of our upcoming Chilterns Heritage Festival, we have organised a Heritage Photography Exhibition at All Saints Church in High Wycombe that will be open to the public from Tuesday 25th September – Saturday 6th October.

All of the images that will be on display have been contributed by our talented photography volunteers who seek to capture the best of the Chilterns through the lens and keep a visual record of our local heritage for the benefit of future generations. The photographs will only represent very small snapshot of the diverse scope of Chilterns heritage, but we hope that you will enjoy the exhibition and will feel encouraged to explore some of the places showcased.

The exhibition will be open at the following times:

Tuesday 25th September: 10am – 2:30pm
Wednesday 26th September: 10am – 2pm
Thursday 27th September: 11am – 2:30pm
Friday 28th September: 10am – 7pm
Saturday 29th September: 10am – 2:30pm
Sunday 30th September: EXHIBITION CLOSED
Monday 1st October: 10am – 2:30pm
Tuesday 2nd October: 10am – 2:30pm
Wednesday 3rd October: 10am – 2pm
Thursday 4th October: 11am – 2pm & 3:30pm – 7pm
Friday 5th October: 10am – 2pm
Saturday 6th October: 10am – 2:30pm

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Bench Installation at Great Gaddesden

15 volunteers from our North Chilterns Path Maintenance Group took on the challenge of installing three benches at remote scenic sights on important footpaths in the Great Gaddesden Parish. No ordinary garden seats, these were solid oak benches with supporting posts that needed to be set two feet into the ground.

Our volunteers divided into teams, so that each team had a balance of skills and physical abilities to deliver the challenge. The logistics were interesting, requiring benches, appropriate tools, and the right mix of people to operate at sites that were a few miles apart.

The ground was well baked after a six week drought. The teams rose magnificently to the task, and three benches were installed for the benefit of ramblers for many decades to come. Indeed, as soon as the Heizdin’s Wood bench was installed, two weary and mature walkers appeared and took advantage of this brand new “breather” opportunity.

A well deserved trip to a local pub followed, and efforts were rewarded with a hearty lunch!

 

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One little girl shows how we can all make a BIG difference

Isla started litter picking after learning about different ways to be eco-friendly in her lessons at school. She started collecting litter on her way to and from school in Studley Green and found there was a lot of rubbish along the main road. She decided that she wanted to do her bit to help the environment.

“I feel really angry about litter because it’s not nice for the environment and it doesn’t rot for a long time. There is lots of plastic that we have collected and it doesn’t rot for a long time. Plastic is dangerous to animals too, it can get stuck in animals’ throats, they might eat it and they could stop breathing.” 

For a few terms, she collected and recycled what she could when she arrived at school. She decided to keep all the rubbish she has collected during one term to show everyone how much litter she had accumulated from her small and reasonably rural local area. Many of her friends also became inspired to help her, and between them they quickly collected 16 bags full of discarded rubbish. Isla planned to lay out all this collected litter in the school hall. She hoped this would encourage others to be more sustainable and tidy the rubbish they see.

Over the term, Isla joined in with the Stokenchurch Parish Council litter pick to help clean her local area. She was the youngest volunteer on the day and was saddened by how much litter was found along a short stretch of road; many cigarettes and boxes, bottles, cans, sweet wrappers, sandwich boxes and over 40 plastic gloves from the petrol station.

Isla also initiated a family litter-pick from Studley Green to Piddington after being upset at the state of the pathway. Isla’s school kindly loaned them high-vis jackets and litter pickers for the task. On a stretch over just one mile, they filled five large bin bags with mostly recyclable waste. A huge achievement!

It’s important to Isla not just to pick-up litter on designated litter picks. She has been collecting and tidying rubbish in her day to day life too. On walks around the woods she has found balloons, bottles and string. On a recent beach trip, Isla witnessed a seagull eating plastic and decided action should be taken there too. So on two occasions now, she has initiated a #2minutebeachclean; once in Bournemouth and once in Shoreham, saving lots of plastic bottles, glass, cans, plastic netting, straws and even snorkels from entering the sea.

Isla’s family has made many changes at home to help the environment:

  • They’ve stopped using plastic milk bottles and now have a local milkman delivering their milk in reusable glass bottles! Since April they have saved the use of 46 two-pint plastic milk bottles!
  • They take a reusable water bottles to work and on days out, rather than buying more plastic bottles
  • They say ‘no’ to plastic straws because they take years to rot. They break down into microplastics that can be eaten by sea animals.
  • Isla’s Dad is going to stop chewing gum because that’s made of plastic, so he will switch to mints instead.
  • They take reusable bags to the supermarket and avoid buying fresh produce that is wrapped in plastic.
  • Isla chooses water or squash in restaurants and cafes instead of bottled juices.
  • They now use reusable tubs from packaged foods for snacks instead of zip-lock bags. When they can’t be reused anymore, they recycle them.
  • They have reused old glass pots from foods to make candles as gifts.
  • They are trying to reduce their use of wet wipes.
  • Their next challenge is to use less clingfilm and they’re going to attempt to make their own beeswax food wraps instead.

Isla said, “My perfect world would be a non-littered world without plastic everywhere.”

We quite agree.

 

 

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Our Ranger goes plastic free for July

Fiona Bennett-Meere, Chiltern Society Ranger, decided to give up single use plastics this month in an effort to do her bit to reduce plastic waste. She tells her story below:

FACT: if we do nothing to reduce our plastic consumption, then – based on current projections – by 2050 there could be more plastic in the oceans than fish (by weight). Quite a startling thought, isn’t it? How many of you watched ‘Blue Planet II’ in which Sir David Attenborough showed in graphic detail our damaged planet as a result of plastic pollution? Was it the fact that 8 million tonnes of plastic a year enters our oceans, or the emotive images of the wandering albatrosses ingesting plastic and the hawksbill turtle tangled in a plastic sack that finally got the Government’s attention? Policies are slowly being changed such as banning the manufacture of products containing microbeads in the UK and phasing out plastic straw use. But how can we each help?

This month my husband and I are taking part in the Plastic Free July challenge – quite simply we are cutting out all single use plastic. But why? In April we went to the incredible Galapagos Islands to celebrate my mother’s 70th birthday, and were reminded of how precious our planet is. Known for their unique biodiversity, containing 1300 species only found in the archipelago, they too are having a plastic crisis. Did you see the ITV news report which showed the sea lion playing with a plastic bottle; a hermit crab with a plastic lid as its shell; and Darwin’s infamous finches using plastic fibres to line their nests? This was the turning point for us and we vowed to change our habits where possible, starting with my husband’s penchant for collecting non-recyclable coffee cups; (He would frequently get takeaway coffees at service stations and from his work cafés). I confronted him about this and following  a ‘discussion’ I am pleased to say not only does he take a bamboo cup with him everywhere, his colleague  purchased one too and his team all use reusable bottles and cups. Small changes can make a difference and affect change – a local café in Chesham, ‘Thé, Stay and Play’, provides half price tea and coffee if you take in your own cup. Just brilliant!

Our weekly food shop is a challenge as many supermarkets wrap their produce in cellophane; we are both vegetarian which makes meals a trial when they are all in plastic. Farm shops and companies offering organic vegetable boxes are the best at not wrapping up their produce, but these can be expensive and not an option for every household. Some businesses need to do so much more to change their habits, but we need to tell them where they are failing to affect change – something I am doing frequently now on social media. The internet is also a great place for inspiration in swapping plastic items. We purchased shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush, we line our bins with paper instead of plastic, plastic tubs are becoming plant pots and we always carry around a reusable water bottle.

As a ranger, I come across rubbish daily that people have tossed aside and plastic bottles, non-recyclable cups and of course full dog mess bags are a regular feature of the nature reserves I visit, often more so than wildlife. I want to try and change this and I need your help. I want to get the local community involved to create a sculpture made from recycled material, based on a species that is local to the Chilterns and display this locally. Are there any artists out there who could offer advice and inspiration on this project?

So far our plastic free July is going well, and we genuinely feel we are making a difference. It is not about being an eco-warrior and dressing up as a plastic bottle or chaining yourself to a vegetable aisle; it is about trying to make small changes in your lives that will impact the planet in a big way. If each of you that reads this article makes one small change, what a huge different this could have on our planet.”

We’d love to hear about your plastic free wins by tagging us @thechilternsociety Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.

Fiona would be very grateful to receive any ideas and inspiration you may have at ranger@chilternsociety.org.uk

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Student Leadership Conference 2018

The Chiltern Society was invited to participate in the annual Student Leadership Conference that was held at Sir William Borlase Grammar School in Marlow earlier this month. Students from 21 local school were invited to attend the conference that this year focussed on the subject of the environment.

Given recent reports in the media that local MP, the Rt Hon Dame Cheryl Gillan MP, is keen to see the Chilterns achieve designated National Park status, we thought this would make an interesting topic of conversation and debate for the students. Whilst becoming a National Park immediately sounds like a very positive proposal, this is not necessarily a clear cut issue and many factors ought to be considered. The Chilterns already has a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), so how would National Park status change the status quo? As young Chilterns Champions, these students were asked to consider if they would support or oppose the National Park proposal.  Some very well thought and valid arguments were put forward by students on both sides of the debate, as outlined below:

YES, THE CHILTERNS SHOULD BE A NATIONAL PARK  

More protection for the local environment and wildlife
Would bring a boost to the economy with increased tourism
Likely to create more jobs in tourism
Much bigger budgets and resources to conserve the natural environment
Preserves local culture and heritage
Far greater control over planning matters
It would better preserve the area for future generations to enjoy

NO, THE CHILTERNS SHOULD NOT BE A NATIONAL PARK

Would tourism result in overcrowding? Could our infrastructure cope with the number of tourists?
Would an influx of visitors damage the natural environment?
House prices will rise and young people will be pushed further out of the market
More affordable housing is needed. There is already a housing shortage and this could make that worse!
The money could be better spent on something else
AONB status already offers the area ample protection without being too rigid
If there are too many National Parks, the status loses its significance

Students were divided 50:50 as to whether or not they would like to see the Chilterns awarded National Park status. This was a great exercise in engaging with young, local people, and getting them to think about the countryside and it’s future. The National Park issue is one that we will continue to discuss.

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Help Preserve our Iron Age Hillforts

We’re delighted to be supporting The Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) in an exciting project which will engage and inspire communities to discover, conserve and enjoy the Iron Age hillforts of the Chilterns. The region has one of the largest collections of hillforts in the UK, yet many are poorly conserved, and little is known about them. We’re proud to be a partner in such a worthwhile undertaking. If you’d like to help us preserve these important historical features, please make a donation.

What are hillforts and what’s their relevance to the Chilterns?

Hillforts are earthworks constructed in many parts of England by our Iron Age ancestors. They were mostly used as places of refuge in times of trouble. The larger ones are surrounded by one or more defensive walls, enclosing an inner area where communities could keep themselves, their possessions and their livestock safe. At present we’re aware of 22 sites in the Chilterns. Although a few are well known and well preserved, the sites as a whole haven’t been researched as thoroughly as collections of such monuments elsewhere. What’s more, we believe there may be others waiting to be discovered.

Why are hillforts so important?

They’re virtually the only major constructions that have survived from this ancient time. Because they’re earthworks, they now form part of our modern day Chiltern landscape, adding to its diversity and beauty. Cholesbury Camp, one of the Society’s own sites, is a particularly impressive example. In Victorian times it was planted with beech trees, the intention being to preserve the earthworks from erosion. The trees are now mature and have created a beautiful shaded area for walking & recreation, the appearance of which changes with the seasons.

Why do they need protecting?

These earthworks are at risk in much the same way as the Chilterns in general. Some are so well known, or so close to urban areas, that they need protection from being over-visited. Those that are not well known are at risk from indifference, neglect and unintentional vandalism.

What is the project aiming to achieve?

There are four main goals:

  1. To survey and further research the known hillforts, looking for previously undiscovered prehistoric features in densely wooded areas using LiDAR* technology
  2. To improve the interpretation of the hillforts and their landscapes, encouraging people to visit and enjoy them responsibly
  3. To bring the Iron Age world to life through programmes of events an educational activities
  4. To undertake practical conservation work on known and newly identified sites

The project has already received Lottery funding, so why does it need financial support from the public?

The Heritage Lottery Fund works on the principle of match-funding, in which the Fund matches, pound for pound, money raised by other contributors. As one of the CCB’s key partners, we’re committed to helping them achieve their match-funding. Why? Because, by making a relatively small contribution over the four years of the project, we’ll be helping to bring a total of almost £1million into the Chilterns, to further our passion for conserving a vital part of our landscape and its heritage; and through the educational work, we’ll raise awareness of the importance of conserving the Chilterns for future generations.

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Learning to scythe at Kingwood Common

The Kingwood Common Volunteers enjoyed a days scythe training this week with local scyther Clive Leeke. The team spent the day learning how to use and maintain these low-impact tools with the aim of using them to help restore and maintain the important open grassland and heath habitats on Kingwood Common. Reducing the dominance of bracken and bramble is a key task for our volunteers, and the scythes offer an efficient and rewarding method of carrying this out throughout the year.

Bracken is very invasive and quickly dominates the open glades if it isn’t controlled. Regular cutting reduces the bracken’s vigour and dominance allowing space for a diversity of wildflowers and grasses to develop.

This is part of a wider partnership project at Kingwood Common supported by the Nettlebed Estate and TOE2 with funding from Grundon Waste Management Ltd.

 

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Changes to National Planning Policy on the Way

We have recently submitted comments on the draft amendments to the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This is the national policy document that guides local authorities in the preparation of their local plans and in making decisions on planning applications.

The amendments proposed are to update the policies in the NPPF so that they accord with other consultations undertaken by the Government. Amendments include changes in the way that housing need is calculated, how local Councils are expected to monitor progress on housing and how Council’s should address pressure for development in the Green Belt.

Some of the main points in the our consultation response were as follows –

  • Amendments to the presumption in favour of sustainable development will give additional strength to the protection of AONBs and Green Belt.
  • The whole premise of the Housing Delivery Test is flawed, in that it involves sanctions against LPAs for something that is not wholly within their power to control.
  • We object to a new policy on exception sites for entry level homes in the Green Belt, which seems to allow for additional market housing to be slipped in.
  • Communications equipment such as masts and overhead cables have the potential to cause significant harm to landscapes, and this is particularly important in protected areas.
  • We support the principle of minimum density standards for city and town centres as this will help to reduce the pressure for development on the open countryside.
  • We do not support the removal of land from the Green Belt to allow development, and consider that housing numbers should be capable of being adjusted downwards where the only option to meet those numbers is to encroach on Green Belt
  • We welcome the more detailed test to be applied to demonstrate exceptional circumstances for removing land from the Green Belt.
  • Where no alternative can be found to Green Belt development (including in neighbouring districts) and exceptional circumstances exist, local authorities should be required wherever possible to create new areas of Green Belt with boundaries that can be defended in the long term.
  • We are disappointed that the reference to AONBs having the highest status of protection has been removed, there is no protection in relation to the setting of AONBs, and there are no policies for addressing cumulative impacts on AONBs and their settings.

Our  full response can be read here.

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