UPRIVER – walking the route, 29 April 2018

 

Thanks to Jenny Steer (www.jennysteer.co.uk) for photos of the day and to Cain Hegarty for the close ups

WHAT HAPPENED

It was chilly for the end of April, twenty or so of us wrapped up in hats and some scarves and gloves set off from the Double Locks to visit the FLOW planting sites all the way up to Exwick. Mary-Rose Lane introduced the context of the Environment Agency and we walked upriver, referencing maps for the new trees and noticing blossom on existing fruit trees and hedgerows. Unfortunately Nigel was unable to join us for the walk this time, but we hope that he come on the walk another time and share his extensive knowledge of the habitat.

There was an endless easy stream of shifting conversations and discussions as we walked along and lots of questions and observations as we stopped to look at the trees and Anne-Marie explained which variety they were and why they had been planted in each location.

The Trews Weir orchard looked great, many trees in blossom including Almond which had already shot up. There was lots of nettles and ground cover that will need keeping at bay to let the trees get away without too much competition. We stopped for a chilly picnic at the canal crossing just before the Quay then carried on up to Exwick where we ended at the Exwick Sunflower and Blossom Day in the Parish Hall. It was mobbed! The Orchard Box and FLOW map were on display for people to see. We managed to squeeze in for a welcome cuppa and cream tea and then those of us who stayed till the end were rewarded with a song writing session with Hugh Nankevil where we collectively composed our very own blossom song. Well done Exwick on such a fantastic and popular event!

Most of the trees are doing well. One (a cherry) has been damaged and removed so needs replacing and a few may need replanting as they have been planted too close together. The Flood Defence Scheme landscaping is running a bit behind but I’m hoping that the remaining trees will be planted in Winter 2018. Quite a few of the walkers were keen to get involved with caring for the trees ‘FLOW rangers’ and helping in other ways  so our next event will be an evening gathering late in June to discuss how best to go forward as a group. All are welcome. Date and location coming soon.

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THE INVITATION:

Come and seek out the newly planted FLOW orchard trees and explore the Valley Park together from Double Locks Pub (meet outside front entrance) to Exwick Mill Field sharing observations, stories and inspiration along the way.

Setting off from Double Locks at 11.30am.

Arrival at Exwick approximately 3.00pm

We will stop to eat packed lunch together on the way.

The walk will include contributions from: 

Nigel Pinhorn, local ecologist

Mary-Rose Lane, environment agency ecologist 

& FLOW artist Anne-Marie Culhane 

This is an opportunity to come and find out more about FLOW, a new orchard of over 190 varied fruit and nut and foraging trees along the river exe, to discover some other non-human inhabitants and residents of this wonderful green space and to start to think about how we care for FLOW as it passes in the hands of the local community.  At Exwick we will arrive for a cream tea, music and song as part of the Exwick Blossom Day celebrations organized by the Exwick Community.

Exwick Blossom Day + Launch of Sunflower Competition, Sunday 29 April:   collect free seeds at Station Road Playground from 2pm. From 3pm, music, craft, seeds to swap and Cream Tea at Exwick Parish Hall, Station Road, Exwick. (please note no car access in Station Road at this time due to Flood Prevention Works) Contact Emma Welton emma.welton@phonecoop.coop for more details

Flow orchard exe on Facebook & @floworchardexe on Twitter

Please let us know you are coming via:  floworchardexe@gmail.com

Sketching out the route

Documentary photographer photojournalist, Devon, Dorset, Cornwall, Somerset, Exeter, UK, abroad

Designing and sketching out the first drafts of the route have involved a series of meetings with staff from Environment Agency, contractor CH2M, Exeter City Council, Exeter College and the Wildlife Trust and have included input from local residents who I met during the research phase of the residency earlier in the year. I’ve been making site visits, researching rootstocks and varieties and going through details site plans. I’m taking into account the different uses of the site, different landownership, historical links, creating flow and linkage through the site, orientation and shade, proximity to routes and roadways (potential pollution levels), likely user groups. I’d like to consider the social aspects of the more concentrated areas of orchard planting when considering layout and design of these.

On 21 June there was an Orchard Lab day attended by 16 members of the local community. These included representatives from St Thomas in Bloom, members of Exwick community, Exwick’s Community Builder, Active Devon, Exeter City Council rangers, Devon Wildlife Trust, Devon & Cornwall House, Patient Participation Representative for St Thomas, St Thomas Community Association, Exeter Green Partnership, local ecologists, Environment Agency, local allotment holders and environmental artists. See the Orchard Lab post for more info.

Background to FLOW

My name is Anne-Marie Culhane, I live in Exmouth and work as a socially engaged eco-artist. This means that much of my creative practice happens with people in real places and involves projects that invite people into an active and enquiring relationship with each other and the land using a range of different tools, artforms and methods.

These including events, performances and long term projects and can involve drawings, photography, installation but also involves developing new ideas and projects with sustained legacy in collaboration with people and organisations.  This work is a response to the urgency of our times which calls for a radical re-alignment of our relationship to the wider world and exploratation of different ways of working together.

wassailbowlrd

AM with wassail bowl created for a new Exeter wassail for 2016 at Exeter Community Garden, Streatham campus, Exeter University, part of a Soil Cultures residency with CCANW (Centre for Contemporary Art & the Natural World)

FLOW – Project Info.

I am working with Gingko Projects & East Devon Council, Exeter City Council and Devon Wildlife Trust on an Arts Council residency in Exeter along the River Exe in the Riverside Valley Park. This is a site of significant upheaval through the recent and ongoing flood prevention works by the Environment Agency. My brief is to draw people into the park, celebrate biodiversity and work in particular with the residents of St Thomas and Exwick. I had a busy research period from January to March investigating diatoms in the lab, walking the park with local residents with different perspectives on the site, learning more about Devon’s orchard heritage, deepening my understanding of the  carbon cycle and deciduous trees including the breating of fruit trees, meeting landscape architects and environment agency staff and connecting with the wider arts and environmental community in Exeter.

This work develops and extends themes I have explored in my work such as Abundance (urban fruit harvesting – winner Observer Ethical Award grassroots category); Fruit Routes & Orchard City Manifesto.

CULHANE:ABUNDANCE

The resulting work is that I am reconfiguring part of the Environment Agency’s planting scheme to create a ribbon orchard and foraging route along the site (around 4 km) to enhance the habitat for pollinators and foragers of all descriptions. This is a complex partnership between different communities, landowners and government agencies and there are some great people involved.

The project includes an Orchard Ideas Lab on 21 June, a day with people from local communities of Exwick & St Thomas, Wildlife Trust, Environment Agency & Exeter City Council considering the possibilities of the project and feeding in local knowledge and ideas. I’ve also created a new performance piece Running With Trees taking groups running in the site to explore the relationship between trees, breath and carbon dioxide. Dr Tom Powell, earth systems scientist has been advising on scientific aspects & I’m collaborating with Amy Shelton (Honeyscribe) to make an Orchard Box to collect and share thoughts, ideas, visions, perspectives on the project with people.

Amy and myself have visited local orchards and collected blossoms from plants that are likely to be included in the scheme. These have been pressed and made into small slides which can be viewed and illuminated in the Orchard Box. The Orchard Box is visiting the St Thomas Festival on 2 & 3 September and Exwick Harvest lunch on 24 September. The planting of the trees for FLOW will happen at a public event & celebration in January 2018.  Please contact me if you would like to find out more or get involved in any aspect.

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