Oakbrook Farm – Tending trees in memory of Colin Cameron

Winter landscape viewed from Oakbrook Farm
On a wet and windy Saturday at the end of January twelve hardy souls turned out to finish the work that was started last November, writes Nick Weir of Stroud Food Hub.

In November, fifty people had gathered at Oakbrook Farm (one of the Biodynamic Land Trust farms) to plant trees.

Some were there just because they enjoy planting trees.

Some wanted to plant a living monument to a dear man who died earlier this year.

Colin Cameron was a local small-holder and very active community member who was loved and appreciated by many people around Stroud.

Colin had planted many hundred trees during his life and had a strong and gentle appreciation of the natural world.

The November group planted a fruiting hedge of 50 saplings including crab apples, Blackthorn, Dog rose, Spindle berry, Witch hazel, Cobs, Rowan, Hazel, Hawthorn and Field Maple. They also planted six oaks and two apple trees – both Gloucestershire varieties; one Ashmead Kernel and one Hunt’s Duke of Gloucester.

These eight trees were planted as standard trees in the middle of the Oakbrook fields and will, over time, grow to replace the magnificent oaks that are dotted around the farm.

The work we did in January was less glamorous but probably more vital in that all those trees needed protecting. So we completed the build of tree cages around the oaks (started in November) and apples in the fields and we put rabbit guards on the saplings in the fruiting hedge. We also barrow-ed the best part of a tonne of mulch to spread around the trees and saplings to suppress weed growth and help with moisture retention.

Of course, planting trees is just the first step. These saplings will need some steady care and attention to make sure they grow to full maturity. This care will be mainly focussed in their first Spring and Summer (2018) when they will need regular watering until their rootlets become established.

So please pay a visit to the new trees in spring and summer and use the buckets and tap at the Stroud Micro Dairy to take water to the trees.Thank you.

For more details: contact Nick Weir on 01453 840037 or email nick @stroudco.org. uk

A tall oak in the forest of our community


A good few years ago I worked manually with Colin on a number of landscape projects, writes Martin who joined the tree-tenders at Oakbrook Farm.

So I have personal experience of how Colin approached and executed challenges such as moving rocks, laying paving or perhaps tree planting: never unnecessarily raise a sweat, always know exactly what your going to do with the tool when you pick it up and that it’s the right tool for the task, remember the time spent considering and musing on a design or activity is always worthwhile. Finally, if you take good care of your tools they will serve you for many years to come.

Lessons I still hear in my head, every time I do some project in the garden or as a volunteer.

So it was a joy to be able to support the tree planting in Colin’s memory at Oakbrook Farm over two days this winter.

Firstly on an exceptionally beautiful day in late November, when there where lots of wonderfully enthusiastic people, singing, a few tears shed and masses of productive work was done.

Secondly on Saturday 27 January 2018 when it was very wet, cold, grey, absolutely sodden under foot and the dampness soaked right through any outer protection.

But that did not affect the collective care, teamwork and attention with which the few ‘mad’ and particularly hardy souls worked together to push the project forward.

Of course there is more to do, but the Oak and Apple trees that were planted in November are now fully protected from the cattle and deer, and where vulnerable to wind rock have been restrained with rubber tyre bands, and lots of mulching was done.

Colin would really have appreciated the love and energy that was put into both days, as well as the important backroom preparation done by Nick Weir of Stroud Food Hub, Gabriel Kaye, Biodynamic Land Trust director, and all those at Oakbrook Farm.

Although last Saturday, Colin might well have said, ‘It’s far too wet – let’s go and shelter somewhere for a nice hot cup of tea’, we persevered and, in years to come, the trees will stand as a worthy and entirely fitting memorial to his gentle, wise, deep and strong soul.

I reflect today that when we are departed and maybe even forgotten by future generations, Colin’s Oak trees will just be coming into their prime.

Recollecting tree-tending day

Stroud Micro Dairy Cows 12 01 18
On Saturday, Oakbrook Community Farm (next to Hawkwood) to which some of you may have donated money  – held a volunteers day which was greatly enjoyed by Phil and I together with 7 other people, writes Sally.

Despite the rain and lots of mud all the oak and apple trees dedicated to Colin Cameron were  mulched, tied and fenced so they are now safe from cows and hurricanes!

Fruiting hedge planting and mulching was also completed.

It was a beautiful setting to work in and there was a fantastic sense of community spirit and joy between volunteers, the Stroud Micro Dairy farmers and Stroud Community Agriculture.

All this with the added bonus of being very near to the lovely  Stroud Micro Dairy cows who were clearly delighted at being in a beautiful, grassy field instead of in a barn for the winter.

A very satisfying, healthy and social way to spend a grey day in January.
With big smiles from a slighty muddy but happy, Sally
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