2022 is now well underway and there are already signs of Spring in the air.

Through the soft, damp earth of winter
Push the sharp, green snowdrop tips.
The crocus, not so far behind,
Welcomes in the longed for Spring

I have a gardening friend who loves January. He says it reminds him of hope and expectation and it also gets him out of the house to walk off the Christmas excess!!

As we enter 2022 there is much to look forward to.

We have plans for our first meeting of the year to be in the open air. There are plans for training courses in our social media outlets, along with the Big Garden Bird watch at the end of the month. So, watch this space for more information.

The Value of our Greenspaces

It may surprise you that we are not alone! By this I mean that there are over 7,000 local Friends Groups across the country and this number is rising all the time. In the next couple of months we hope to have at least two more new Friends Groups in Medway.

We are the voice of our much loved greenspaces and are part of a movement of thousands across the country!

The National Federation of Parks and Greenspaces are the umbrella organisation for Friends Groups nationally and they have just published a series of reports and studies showing the importance of our greenspaces and parks:

  • Better Friends‘ NFPGS report – a detailed nuts-and-bolts analysis of the activities, character, needs and influence of Friends Groups
  • Benefits of Friends Groups‘ Infographic showcasing the immense value Friends Groups bring to green spaces and local communities
  • An upgrade of their parkscommunity.org.uk online presence and support for grassroots activists
  • State of UK Parks‘ report (by the Association for Public Service Excellence) on the challenges for our parks and greenspaces.

You can find out more about the work of NFPGS via the link.

MUGs Book Club

I am an avid reader and, happily, over Christmas I was given a number new books. In particular, anything on the theme of greenspaces, gardening or wildlife is always a hit with me.

One of my favourite authors is Dave Goulson, who wrote the fascinating and funny “A Sting in the Tail“, and one of the worlds leading experts on bees, especially bumblebees. His latest book, “Gardening for Bumblebees – A Practical Guide to Creating a Paradise for Pollinators“, is well worth picking up. Packed full of amazing information about bumblebees and other garden pollinators as well as the key flowers they rely upon, it is a valuable addition to any gardener’s library.  

If you have any books that you would recommend to our greenspace friends then let me know.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Despite the problems of the pandemic we achieved a great deal in 2021. Thousands of trees were planted in Medway and have been cared for by Friends Groups and volunteers. Several tons of litter have been removed from our greenspaces! Paths have been kept clear, wildflower meadows have been created and thousands of crocus bulbs have been planted.

Our thanks go to Crisitina who produced our beautiful 2021 I-Spy photographs every month.

A very special thanks to Marion Philips who worked with us for many years and has now moved on to support the Council Climate Change Team. We wish her all the best and hope to have her replacement in post very soon.

The new year brings new challenges but some of the old ones also remain. The Great British Spring Clean is in March this year and in the lead up we are already planning a number of litter picking events.

If your Friend’s Group has plans in the coming weeks for a litter pick then let us know and we will make sure the event is advertised. All the latest events and activities can be found on our Monthly Community Updates

Don’t forget the Big Garden Bird Watch at the end of this month.

We also have plans for training in social media, recording the wildlife in your greenspace and first aid. You will hear more about these over the coming weeks.

A Huge Thanks …………..

Thank you very much for all that you do to keep our parks and greenspaces looking so lovely and in such good condition. Over the pandemic everyone has learned of the value of these spaces for our mental and physical health, as well as our environment and our community.

Chair of the Medway Urban Greenspaces Forum