Planting for the Future

Barrows Stile, the large sloping field that lies above Kelston Village, has had a varied past, changing in use from agricultural farmland, to quarry, to landfill, and back to farmland. In the last decade, a significant portion of the field was given over to the creation of new woodland, with over 5000 trees being planted on the slopes. One key area for improvement had always been the Southern boundary – a wire fence linking to neighbouring farm land.

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Chris and James take a well earned break after the hard work of tree planting

On Tuesday 3rd March, we planted a new hedgerow of around 350 trees, which, once mature, will form a more solid boundary line, as well as acting as a corridor for nature to access the wooded areas higher up in the field. A further 50 trees were planted in a hedgerow adjacent to the Old Barn, providing screening for the hardstanding area used for storing spare building materials.

The new hedges contain a mix of tree species including hawthorn, privet, field maple, hazel and spindle, some of which will provide berries and nuts for the local wildlife.

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Harriet battles the stony ground near the barn

We were very grateful to be joined by Chris and James, two volunteers from Keynsham who recognise the environmental importance of planting trees – both for the local wildlife and wider issues of climate change. They worked hard, alongside William, Antonio, Harriet and Dan from the Kelston Roundhill team, and between the team the 400 trees were planted in a under 4 hours. Our thanks also go to Avon Wildlife Trust who kindly donated the trees.

The start of March brings us to the end of the tree planting season, but we are already planning ahead to the 2020-21 season, with plans to plant further hedgerows around the edge of Barrows Stile. Spring and Summer 2020 will see a massive project to remove the plastic tree guards from the maturing trees within the plantation, allowing them to grow to their full potential. This forms part of a wider ecology strategy for Kelston Roundhill which will see further areas of land set aside for ecological purposes.

We are always keen to welcome volunteers who may not have space in their own gardens to plant trees but are keen to do their bit for their local environment.

Meanwhile, we look forward to seeing the new hedges grow and develop over the coming years.

 

 

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Diary date: CelebrationEarth! southwest: Kelston Roundhill Sat 19 Sept 2020

National civil-society pre-COP26 celebration and call to action on the environment.

After meeting the national organisers of CelebrationEarth! we’ve offered to host CelebrationEarth! southwest – a gathering to celebrate life and nature at Kelston Roundhill. It will celebrate local environmental progress, and invite commitments of future action.

Please note the date: Sat 19 Sept 2020.

We then plan to send a delegation by coach early Sun 20 Sept to join the national CelebrationEarth! event at St Albans Cathedral. From there the idea is that commitents from around the UK form a national civil-society submission for the UN’s COP26 climate summit to be held in Glasgow in November. Whatever you may think of national governments’ ability to act on climate crisis, there is a great deal of progress already around the country and much more that can be done.

More information on the national web site here. One of the national CelebrationEarth! organisers Gordon MacLellan says (from his own blog)

Supported by WWF UK and drawing together groups from across society, CE! is building a new network of partnerships of information and support, encouraging environment, community, art and faith groups to all find ways of working together…over the next few months we are finding people, challenging groups and inviting anyone to join in, building to a gathering at St Albans Cathedral…to connect, to share successes, to remind ourselves that there are good things happening.

So: we have an idea for a national civil-society programme to tie into the COP26 summit. We have a call for regional events. We can offer an iconic and welcoming hillside well suited to memorable strategic gatherings.

Everything else is still to do or be decided: organising team; commitments from local organisations to take part; project planning and budget, food, music, logistics and celebration.

If you’re inspired by this idea, as we are, do get in touch. Contact us or comment below.

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Nature survives the storms just fine, thank you

Dan Spencer writes:

In common with most of the rest of the UK, Kelston Roundhill has played host to two uninvited visitors over the past fortnight- Ciara and Dennis.

With both storms wreaking havoc across the country, the team here at the Roundhill have been keeping an eye out for damage to the site. We’ve already documented the damage to the wind array. Other storm damage has included a broken shutter on the barn, damage to shed roofs, the demise of the large dove box in the ash tree by the barn, and the relocation of quite a lot of the gravel driveway by the flow of water.

With speeds of 70mph recorded in Barn Ground during Storm Ciara this was no mild breeze.

What is quite notable about this damage is that it has almost entirely affected the manmade structures on site. Apart from the loss of one (dead) tree, the natural environment around the farm has fared well. Neither the clump on the Roundhill Summit, nor the windswept Abbots Copse have seen any significant damage. Hedgerows still stand strong, and even the trees in the new plantations have weathered the storm well (although the same can’t be said for some of the plastic tree guards).

The Roundhill has also been a good vantage point to survey the Avon Valley, and to watch the floodwaters rise (and, thankfully, begin to fall) as the floodplains do the job they have been doing for millennia.

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Sun sets on first stage of our renewables trial

This photo by Tim Graham shows the unpainted wind array catching the last rays of the sun as the moon rises over the clump.

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Prototype wind array disassembled for assessment

The prototype wind array on Kelston Roundhill suffered damage in storm Ciara during the night of 9/10 Feb. The array was taken down over a few hours on 10 Feb.

Engineers are now assessing the damage and conducting an investigation. The suspected cause is a specific modified component in the Kelston trial array, not used in other prototype installations which came through the storm unscathed.

While the engineers assess this and learn any lessons Kelston Tump LLP has advised B&NES planning authorities that we will suspend the planning application process which was scheduled for submission for this week, and for which supporting information is published on our web site.

We remain committed to a renewable future for farming and other activities on Kelston Roundhill. We look forward to resuming our trials with wind technology as soon as possible, hoping to add solar trials as well.

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Retreats and quiet days now available at Roundhill Barn

Roundhill Barn has become a member of the Retreat Association, the national organisation supporting retreats. We’re happy to expand our offer of facilitated and catered days of quiet.

As the Retreat Association puts it

A retreat is exactly what it sounds like – the chance to step aside from life for a while, to rest and just ‘be’ in a welcoming, peaceful place. Retreats are for ordinary people at any time in their lives. There are no expectations on anyone going on retreat…

Most Retreat Association members are explicitly Christian organisations. Kelston Roundhill is affiliated as a secular location. It has hosted Quaker and CofE days of quiet in recent years. It has also welcomed visitors of many faiths including Buddhist and Rastafari. The retreats offered are based on the practices used successfully for the Quaker days of quiet.

Kelston Retreats suit people of any faith or of none. More info here.

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New gallery of wind array images commissioned for planning application

Based on the specifications and recommendations set out in B&NES’ pre-planning process we commissioned and just received a series of images of the prototype wind array for the planning application proper. These are taken after the new matt grey powder coating was appled to reduce shiny glare (with apologies to anyone who was disturbed by reflections).

More below. Click any of the images to enlarge.

Continue reading

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