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Nature Reserve Newsletter - January 2019

Beavers coming back to Essex

For the first time in a thousand years beavers should be breeding in Essex in 2019: just four miles south of our Kings Field Chase nature reserve, in a ten-acre enclosure on the Spains Hall estate. The hope is that the beavers (proper Euro-beavers not American ones) will create leaky dams and reduce the risk of flooding in Finchingfield.


The fencing expert who is building the beaver enclosure will be returning to more normal work at the end of this month, when he starts the construction of a permanent sheep-proof fence at Kings Field. At present our Kings Field sheep have become expert at ignoring the electric fence, so we are delighted that they will soon be safely confined where we want them to be.

Our Birthday Barn-storming

Saturday 19th January 2019

is our 10th birthday (the anniversary of Organic Countryside CIC's registration as a community interest company).

The foundations are now ready and we plan to celebrate with a two-day work party (Saturday 19th & Sunday 20th)  to re-erect our donated barn and plant some donated trees in our hedge.

No need to attend the whole time, come when you can.

Noakes Grove, Redgates Lane, Sewards End,  Saffron Walden CB10 2LW. 

We can offer hot drinks on the rocket stove, a slice of birthday cake and offer a glass of fizz. Bring your own snacks.

our barn




Not All Work Party



Re-Union Work Party

Fifteen volunteers came to the re-union task at Noakes Grove on Armistice Day.  They came from Cambridge, Harlow, Welwyn Garden City and Saffron Walden. Many are old friends but we are all united by wanting to do positive work in the natural environment. 

The blackthorn and hawthorn scrub is a natural succession growing from meadow to mature woodland.  We did find a young oak being nursed by the scrub, and this was marked and saved.  There is great botanical and insect diversity associated with the rides that bisect the area and less associated with the blackthorn and hawthorn, especially as it becomes young forest.  Our objective was to clear a patch of over mature scrub, let in the light and allow it to regenerate.  This will create a patchwork of scrub habitats of different ages, available for animals and plants to colonise and thereby increase the biodiversity at Noakes Grove, a crucial activity at a nature reserve.  

Volunteers set to with bowsaw and loppers and worked extremely hard.  They created piles of logs and a huge bonfire.  One hawthorn was selected to be a specimen tree and pruned to encourage its growth.  The work requires that the tangled trees be carefully unpicked and then cut up.  Thin brush fuels the fire and the stems make habitat piles or logs.

None of this could take place without frequent cups of tea and coffee and the bonfire to heat a vegetable stew and baked potatoes for lunch.

A lively chatter ensues as the work progresses and the importance of the social occasion cannot be overstated.  One volunteer said,  “why do I need to go to the gym when I can come to this beautiful place for a workout in the fresh air.”

A big thank you to all who came and made this such a great day.


Future Noakes Grove Work Parties

Saturday & Sunday 19th & 20th January - our Birthday Barn-storming (see above) 

Sunday 17th February   10 - 4.00pm

Sunday 17th March        10 - 4.00pm


hedge coppicing

Hedge Coppicing

In 2018 we completed coppicing the roadside hedge at Noakes Grove. We are now working to finish coppicing the lane-side hedge at Ellis Green. If you are able to come and help on Monday 14th January and/or Saturday 26th Jan (both days 10:00 am to 3:00pm come anytime.

If you don't know how to find our Ellis Green (Scotch Patch) Reserve visit:

Hedgerow gap filling

Thanks to OVO Energy who have sponsored "I Dig Trees" we have been given a couple of hundred young trees and shrubs (all native and suitable for our soils) plus the guards and stake for them. We plan to plant them in the gaps in our coppiced hedges during the January work parties at Noakes Grove and Ellis Green



Can you give us a birthday present?

It's our group of shareholders who have provided the money to buy and protect Noakes Grove nature reserve - but we still need more shareholders if we are ever to finish paying-off the loan which helped buy the reserve. It is our shareholders who own and control our not-for-profit company. The minimum investment is £100. The shares do not pay dividends and are non-refundable, but you can hand them on to a friend or relative who will then replace you as a life-member of Organic Countryside CIC. You can become a shareholder online, just visit: