For the past few months a small team of dedicated people have braved wind and rain and freezing cold mornings to build a deer fence on the community field at Claver Hill food project.
Fences are not particularly exciting to build (they really are not), but the conversations had whilst chiselling away at large wooden posts were good enough to get people out of bed on a Sunday morning! There were other good aspects as well – it was great spending time outside and noticing the wildlife that visits Claver Hill, and the discovery of small underground caverns made the whole experience exciting… It was also great getting to learn how to use some strange named devices such as a hog ringer and a monkey strainer. And at the end of it all, we have got to know each other better and have built a beautiful new fence that will keep deer out!
So what are we trying to protect from the deer?
Well, as you might have gathered from reading this column over the last few years, there are quite a few community food growing projects in Lancaster. One barrier that has prevented these projects from supporting even more groups to plant community gardens and orchards is a supply of healthy plants (or the money to be able to buy plants.) And so we are trying to overcome this barrier by creating a community plant nursery on the land at Claver Hill. We hope for this nursery, with time, to provide fruit trees, soft fruit bushes and herbs to guerrilla gardeners and community groups around Lancaster.
We started to implement this idea about a year ago but discovered deer quite like apple and plum trees. So, we have built a fence to protect our small trees and other edible plants from the being eaten.
Now that the fence is complete, we have had time to start thinking of life beyond the fence! We have a plan for the nursery’s layout and will be doing some work next week (on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd) to implement the plan. This will mainly involve creating beds for trees and soft fruit bushes; wheeling woodchip and compost around; putting in wooden posts and wires for training trees, and planting some ‘mother plants’ and a wind break. If this sounds like something you would like to get involved with, please get in touch. We would welcome a spare pair of hands and ideas for how to make this edible plant nursery really useful for Lancaster.