At the beginning of Government Enforced Lockdown things seemed to be fairly uncertain for a project that concentrates its efforts on engaging with communities through the delivery of public events in the woods. As offices shut and the majority of Local Authority and Nationally owned outdoor spaces closed their doors, gates, and carparks to the public, we made the decision to keep K-Woodlands open.
Working from home for a few weeks allowed time for reports to be written, lists of woodland work to be compiled and articles about the healing power of connecting with nature to be shared across social media – which seemed to be eagerly consumed by a somewhat captive audience
Existing volunteers kept in touch via social media and by phone and together we planned to go ahead with a community growing programme, which had originally been developed to engage with local people living with poor mental health. Instead, we decided to create a safe outdoor space for staff and volunteers to continue to be part of something helpful, growing a variety of fruit and vegetables from seed, while remaining socially distant. Tasks involved in this included: making raised beds using pallets, planting thousands of seeds, preparing pots for planting, replanting out thousands of seedings, watering and feeding everything, and harvesting.
Communities across East Kilbride were asked to help us out by donating their recyclables (milk & fizzy juice bottles, tin cans etc) so that they could be repurposed as a variety plant pots. Lots and lots of people brought what they could to help with the growing programme and because of this, a number of families now know where K-Woodlands is situated and frequently visit as part of their daily exercise.
As well as helping out with the growing programme, members of the community have further engaged with K-Woodlands, now that they’ve found it, by working in their family units to undertake woodland litter picking and pond clearing. This took place after we experienced some antisocial behaviour and vandalism and wrote about it on social media pages. We’re delighted that so many new faces have begun visiting the woods and taking an interest in the upkeep and maintenance, and therefore community ownership – which is our project’s ultimate aim.