The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust has been awarded £2,500 from the CLA Charitable Trust (CLACT) to help revamp a wildlife garden to be inclusive and educational for all.
The trust is funded almost entirely by subscriptions and donations from members of the CLA, an organisation which represents nearly 30,000 farmers, landowners and rural businesses.
It provides grants to charities and community organisations who share its vision to help connect young people who are disabled or disadvantaged with the countryside and nature.
The Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is among the groups to successfully apply for funding in the most recent round of awards. Its Environmental Education Centre at Sutton Courtenay Nature Reserve, between Didcot and Abingdon in Oxfordshire, is a busy and thriving centre, providing an opportunity for adults and children to learn about nature and wildlife.
However, currently, the wildlife garden surrounding the centre is poorly designed, limiting accessibility and reducing opportunities to use it. The trust wants everyone to experience it and plans to redraw the garden, maximising the space to allow for increased educational programmes for schoolchildren and the local community.
Charlotte Evetts, from the trust, said: “Every year we welcome thousands of visitors – families, school groups, individual adults, community groups and volunteers – who benefit from the beautiful nature reserve setting and the purpose-built education centre. We will soon be able to enrich their experience with access to a teaching garden, showcasing wildlife-friendly gardening and modelling what visitors could emulate in their own gardens at home.
“The new garden will include a large area for growing fruit and vegetables which will allow visitors to get hands-on discovering where our food comes from, and our regular groups will be able to sow, grow and harvest their own food.
“In addition to this the new garden will include a raised pond, giving elderly or disabled people as well as toddlers the ability to safely take part in pond dipping sessions. I believe the new garden will transform the entrance to the education centre and enhance the experience of all our visitors, as well as providing an excellent wildlife habitat and helping to empower others to improve their own gardens for wildlife.
“Thank you so much for your generous support, it really will make an enormous difference to our visitors and our wildlife here.”
Bridget Biddell, Chairman of CLACT, said: “The Environmental Education Centre at Sutton Courtenay is a huge asset and we are delighted to be able help support the improvements to the wildlife garden.
“The garden provides an important habitat for wildlife, and improving accessibility there means more adults and children will be able to connect or reconnect with nature, and learn about the natural environment through a series of educational workshops and programmes.”
Since its foundation in 1980, the trust has given £2m in grants to a wide variety of organisations and projects. If you would like to know more about applying for funding, or to donate, visit https://www.cla.org.uk/about-cla/charitable-trust/