Village project to support environment and promote wellbeing

MEMBERS of the West Byfleet Community Gardening Group have been in action, planting saplings and bulbs on Birch Green as part of a project to improve the local environment.

Kristine Gorton speaking to Isabelle David from the Byfleet, West Byfleet & Pyrford Residents’ Association. The Residents’ Association are supporting the work of the community gardeners. Pictures by Bob Holmes

Louisa Abrahams, a renewable energy specialist and keen gardener, said the group aimed to make the local area more attractive, both for people and insect pollinators.

“We wanted to promote well-being, bring people together and put the heart into West Byfleet village again,” she said. “A perfect opportunity to show residents that there are plenty of people out there who want to contribute, who care about the environment and want to act now.”

David Askew planting bulbs near the Network Rail depot entrance

Since the group launched in autumn last year, she said it had harnessed the support of local businesses and over 100 members, including allotment holders, parents, headteachers, environmental activists and bee keepers.

“We’re going from strength to strength and it’s inspiring to meet older people with a wealth of knowledge and experience that they’re enthusiastic to share. This really is an antidote to loneliness – for all of us. Even during lockdown, we set up a watering rota so we could continue to nurture recently planted saplings,” said Louisa.

“Our group will have a ripple effect on the wider community. Connections are being made, relationships are being forged, we feel supported and listened to.

“We’re asking Woking Borough Council and Surrey County Council to step up and show us that they’re taking the climate emergency seriously. And while we wait for their response, we’re doing what we can. Even on a small scale; planting more trees, adding bird boxes and water butts to buildings – every little helps. If every house had a water butt that would really reduce the effects of flooding. It’s a simple thing to do. So let’s do it – now.”

The gardening group’s efforts were filmed for a segment on Wild Pyrford, a series of videos on how Pyrford residents are “greening-up” their village. Wild Pyrford aims to introduce viewers to local people and their contribution to the landscape in Pyrford, covering topics from bees to ancient water courses – see www.wildpyrford.com for details.

The gardening group’s next event is planting bulbs on West Byfleet Recreation Ground next Wednesday, 21 October.

“Come rain or shine, we’ll be there. Midday till 2pm,” said Louisa. “Please join us and bring your own gardening gloves, hand tools – a trowel or little fork will do. Remember to pack waterproofs, a re-usable cup and, most importantly, biscuits! No gardening experience needed.”

To find out more, search Facebook for West Byfleet Community Gardening Group. 

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