Partnership with Wessex Water boosts environmental projects

13 groups benefit from £16,000 in grants

Partnership with Wessex Water boosts environmental projects

A PARTNERSHIP between Dorset Community Foundation and Wessex Water has resulted in more than £16,000 worth of funding for 13 projects aimed at improving the environment in communities across the county.

The Wessex Water Environment Fund was launched with the community foundation in 2020 by The Wessex Water Foundation, a multi-million-pound initiative to provide a dedicated funding stream for projects across the region.

Among the recipients is Wilding Wimborne, which has been awarded £1,500 to continue its work protecting and enhancing the insect population around the town.

Having persuaded Wimborne Town Council to stop using pesticides, carrying out tree and flower planting and creating a bee trail with 11 bee homes, the group will now be creating homes for small mammals like hedgehogs and for birds including swifts and house martens.

It will also continue its tree-planting programme. “People don’t realise how important trees are for insects,” said co-founder Linda Bunting. “They probably provide the majority of their food. We are working with the council to plant some smaller trees by the River Stour and we are reintroducing black poplars, which used to be around here, around the rivers and in some of the large estates.”

The group is also aiming to work with young people to heighten their awareness through family activities and a photographic competition.

“We are amazed to have been given the grant,” said Mrs Bunting. “We are thrilled because we can go ahead with the tree planting and make some investment into our events. We have been running everything on a shoestring and it will be lovely to be able to put some really decent leaflets out and some good events on to raise even more awareness.”

Dorset Men of the Trees in Bovington will also be using some of its £1,500 grant to continue its tree-planting programme, including 1,000 saplings at a willow carr – a wetland woodland – at Lulworth. “It is really beneficial from an ecological point of view because there are many birds and plants that depend on a willow carr,” said group member Rachel Palmer.

The group will also continue its My Life My Tree project with rural primary schools. The project involved pupils collecting and growing seeds before seeing the resulting saplings planted across the community. “It gives them a real appreciation of trees and they learn so much about their seasonal and environmental cycle,” said Mrs Palmer. “It’s a very popular project and we have a waiting list of schools wanting to take part so with the funding we can work with more.”

The Friendly Food Club will run 14 interactive cookery demonstrations in Gillingham and Shaftsbury with its £1,400 grant.

Project manager Liz Guilmant-Cush said the sessions, at Sturminster Vale Pantry and Gillingham Food Bank, will help turn food that otherwise might be thrown away into tasty and nutritious meals.

“The aim is to reduce food waste by showing people simple cooking that can use up food that would otherwise go to waste,” she said. “The grant money will go to supplying 14 interactive demonstrations at key locations, such as community pantries, community fridges and food banks. This is a project that has been successfully completed in Bournemouth and Poole, with positive impact on communities.”

Grounded Community in Bournemouth will use its £1,500 grant to maintain its community gardens in the town which provide fresh vegetables and fruit for struggling families. The grant will also fund its community compost scheme which uses food waste to produce its Rocket Compost.

The compost is distributed to households as part of the group’s mission to encourage them to grow more of their own food. Project co-ordinator Michael French said: “We are aware through research that the peat-based compost from shops does not have a desirable effect on the environment as it releases huge amounts of stored carbon dioxide when harvested which adds to greenhouse gas levels, therefore producing our own for propagation of plants and feeding raised beds is a great way to benefit the environment while supporting food growing efforts.”

We are delighted to be working once again with Dorset Community Foundation and are very grateful for its invaluable insight and collaboration in bringing these grants to exactly where they will have the most impact

Beaminster School has been awarded £1,500 to create a wildflower meadow, and wildlife pond after gaining inspiration from meadows and nature reserves nearby. “We will be asking the advice of local professionals for guidance on how best to use the landscape we have and how to maximise its natural potential,” said Rosemary Rychnovsky.

“We aim to increase our visiting pollinators, birds, pond life and small wildlife, with the clever use of planting and habitat improvements.”

Plush Paddock Charitable Incorporated Organisation will use its £1,500 grant to maintain and improve hedgerows and grassland at the beauty spot near Dorchester. Chairman of trustees John Lush said volunteers and a contractor will work to create a wildflower meadow and open public space. The group will also plant 40 trees, including some fruit trees to create a community orchard.

“It’s for the benefit of the whole village who will be able to make use of it and enjoy it,” said chairman of trustees John Lush. “We are very grateful for the grant because we have limited funds.”

Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “We’re very pleased that Wessex Water’s faith in us has led to valuable funding for 13 brilliant project that will make a difference to the environment and bring people together in communities all over Dorset.

“This is the third year we have run this fund with Wessex Water’s generous support and it is really heartening for us that its continued trust in our expertise and local knowledge delivers exactly the types of applications and engagement it is looking for.”

Kirsty Scarlett, Wessex Water’s head of community engagement, said: “We are very pleased to support these wonderful projects and we are looking forward to seeing how they help to transform communities and heighten peoples’ appreciation of the natural world.

“We are delighted to be working once again with Dorset Community Foundation and are very grateful for its invaluable insight and collaboration in bringing these grants to exactly where they will have the most impact.”

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