June 2014

Bees and verges
Road verges are the life-giving arteries of the countryside, linking habitats and acting as vital corridors for wildlife. These relic habitats are a particularly valuable nectar source for declining populations of bees and other insect pollinators. Cutting regimes and other management must aim to promote floral diversity rather than a 'tidy' appearance.
Over the next year STS wants to survey many of the road verges in our area so we can identify and promote appropriate management of particularly rich verges. Northumberland's Highways department is certainly sympathetic to the needs of pollinators but has limited and old data on the floral composition of South Tynedale's verges.
STS launched a verge campaign with a stall at Haltwhistle Plant Festival on 17th May. We asked plant buyers if they were concerned about bees, if they appreciated flowers in verges and what they thought of verge management in the town and beside local roads. Many of the people who talked to us shared our concerns and would happily swap a tidy look for greater biodiversity. Encouragingly we heard of a couple of instances where complaints to the Council, after flowers had been mown down before seeding, resulted in the suspension of early season cutting.
STS members have contributed bee-friendly plants to a new garden at Haltwhistle Middle School. June Abbot took the plants and some compost to the school and, as a temporary measure, planted them in raised beds recently renovated by pupils. Later in the year the plants will be transferred to the new bee-friendly garden that the students are creating next to their newly dug pond. More bee-friendly flower seeds will be sown in the garden in the autumn.

We need volunteers to:
    • Survey local verges
    • Adopt a verge - monitor cutting and other management activities

Verge flower identification walk
All welcome. Meet at Thorngrafton at 7pm Friday 27th June. Botanist Lizzie Maddison will be with us to identify roadside flora between Thorngrafton and the Stanegate. A post walk project discussion in the Twice Brewed Inn is planned….

A second identification walk is planed for the Featherstone area - date to be confirmed.

If you are interested in getting involved in our verges and bees initiative- no botanical knowledge required - please contact Jo Aris (01434 320837) or Sue Seymour sue@mosspeteral.com or just come along to the walk and chat on June 27th.

Wool on the Wall at Greenhead Farmers' market on Sunday 13th July celebrates the wool harvest - from sheep to shawl in a day! At 10am the sheep will be hand clipped, the fleece will be carded, spun and knitted, at 4pm we hope to have a shawl. The marquee in Greenhead will host all this and wool craft demonstrations with opportunities for all to join in and have a go.

For Wool on the Wall the function room of the Greenhead Hotel will be transformed into a market place for all things woolly. From carpets and insulation to the finest of naturally dyed yarns, woven, knitted and felted - all beautifully crafted from British wool.

Green Shoots - our 2nd annual Pop-up Green Cinema
Sunday, October 19th Commrades Club, Haltwhistle
A free day of full-length and short eco-films. Our program will include premières of two films specially commissioned from our partner, Haltwhistle Film Project. HFP will work with local schoolchildren, looking at bird flight, to produce an animated short and FilmAble will create a film celebrating 20 years of a horticultural project for adults with a learning disability.
Great food from local producers will be on sale between screenings.
Thanks to Northumberland National Park for supporting this event.

Calling all veg growers
The fruit and veg classes at Gilsland's Centenary Show, on Aug 10th this year are:
    • Four potatoes
    • Six peapods
    • Pair of courgettes
    • Bunch of six radishes
    • Saucer of soft fruit
    • Three sticks rhubarb
    • Selection of home grown vegetables
    • Funniest looking vegetables
STS has provided a trophy, in the form of a beautiful hand turned bowl made by local craftsman Chris Tweddle, for most points in these classes.
Show schedules and entry forms are available from the Show secretary, Rachael Marston rachael@skitby.plus.com

C.O.G.S Campaign to open Gilsland Station
The campaign to open a station at Gilsland is gathering pace. Local MP, Guy Operman, recently wrote a supportive blog about the initiative (http://guyopperman.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-weekend-read-how-do-you-recreate.html) in which he listed four great reasons for getting behind the project:
    • it would revitalise a local community on a multitude of levels
    • it would help Hadrians' Wall and Pennine Way Tourism
    • it would aid business investment in the cross border area
    • and promote greater use of the trains, which is something we all want
C.O.G.S. has an informative website where you can read about the historical importance of the station and follow the progress of the campaign. http://www.gilsland-station.org.uk

Hats off to:
Northumberland County Council for its project to fit all street lighting lamps with new eco-friendly and fully controlled LED lantern units with the capability to vary the lighting levels, while maintaining public safety. This will significantly reduce light pollution, slash energy and maintenance costs whilst cutting carbon emissions and benefiting nocturnal wildlife. The council will also down-light all public buildings and signs with LEDs instead of floodlighting with tungsten lights. This follows on the recent dark skies award granted to Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water and Forest Park last year.
And: Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea room which won the accolade of best village shop in the North Eat region of the Countryside Alliance Awards. It's great news that this new business is recognised for its community contribution.

South Tyne Sustainability aims to reduce the impact of the community of Haltwhistle and surrounding villages on our environment. This will help individuals, families and our community save money and resources and ensure a more sustainable future for us all.

To join STS contact Sue Seymour, sue@mosspeteral.com 016977 47359