Task Programme

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Monday 2 Jan 2017Scrub Clearance & Yew PruningHolywell Cemetery, Oxford
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A special New Years' Bank Holiday task to blow away the festive fug. By the mid 19th. century the graveyards of the six parishes of central Oxford were full. In 1847 Merton College provided land for a new burial site behind St Cross Church - Holywell Cemetery. Today the site is managed and conserved as a unique kind of urban wildlife space by The Friends of Holywell Cemetery with help from OCV. We'll cut the invasive scrub, and prune back and tie in some of the yew trees.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Tuesday 3 Jan 2017Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 8 Jan 2017CoppicingBrasenose Wood, Oxford
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A return to Brasenose Wood. We'll continue the work we began last November and, as then, we'll be working with Shotover Wildlife who have been trialling a high-cut coppice regime. This is a technique designed to compensate for the problem of deer grazing, especially in a woodland where species diversity is a priority. The wood is a designated SSSI, a great place for bird song, and a rich habitat for a wide diversity of wildlife.
Leader: Richard NewtonDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 15 Jan 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our first visit of the year to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns which has extensive views out over the Oxford plain. Tasks at this time of year usually involve coppicing woodland, or tackling the hawthorn, bramble and scrub that encroach on the chalk grassland slopes. As usual, we'll be working with one of the Natural England wardens who manage the Reserve. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list for detailed information nearer the day.
Leader: Tim HowardDriver: Ray Hitchins

Friday 20 Jan 2017 -
Sunday 22 Jan 2017
Reserve MaintenanceThe Flits NNR, Herefordshire
This weekend sees one of our occasional weekend trips away from Oxford. The Flits National Nature Reserve is situated in the flood plain of the River Wye, near Preston on Wye in Herefordshire. It's an area of low-lying grassland, fen, scrub and woodland on peaty soils. The Reserve warden, Bob Silverwood, is an old friend of OCV from his time at Aston Rowant and we'll be working with him to coppice alders and pollard willows - typical winter woodland work. The plan is to drive out on Friday evening, work Saturday and Sunday, then drive back to Oxford on Sunday evening. We'll spend two nights at the Moccas Village Hall, the same accommodation as our Herefordshire residential in May last year. Residentials are open to all OCV members, and if you are not a member yet, you can join at the time of booking.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 29 Jan 2017Conservation LandscapingTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another visit to the Trap Grounds: a small pocket of countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford between the canal and the railway. Formerly a dump (literally!) it's now a designated Local Wildlife Site and consists of several interrelated habitats: ponds, wetland, woodland, and meadow. Despite years of successful reclamation work on the site there are still strata of junk and rubbish to be found and dug out in the more remote corners. The plan for today is to begin landscaping one of these corners. Come and have a go at some urban re-wilding!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Thursday 2 Feb 2017Pub Social 7pmThe Kings Arms, Broad Street
Join us for food or just for a drink at the King's Arms on Broad Street at 7pm. We'll be ordering food at 7pm and will stay around afterwards for a drink or several, so feel free to drop in whenever you want. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come to socials. Email chair@ocv.org.uk for more information, or if you're new and want us to keep a look out for you.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 5 Feb 2017Scrub BashingGrim's Ditch, Blewbury, South Oxfordshire
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Grim's Ditch is a Scheduled Ancient Monument near the Ridgeway in the rolling, chalk downs south of Blewbury. It appears to have been a land boundary dating back to the later Iron Age. This section is jointly managed by English Heritage and Natural England. This will be scrub bashing with a view and with more than usual care as we're to take pains that we don't disturb the monument. It's a difficult site to find so make sure you're on the OCV email list for directions nearer the day.
Leader: Jo HaydukDriver: Phil Hunter

Tuesday 7 Feb 2017Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Feb 2017Hedge-LayingWindale Community Primary School, Blackbird Leys, Oxford
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We're back in urban south-east Oxford today to work in the garden and nature area at Windale Primary School. Back in 2013 we laid a stretch of their boundary hedge, last winter we laid the middle section (which looks in fine fettle) and today we'll complete the job. The unlaid portion of hedge has put on lots of top-growth in the meantime, so there will be plenty of siding-up to be done before we can get pleaching. Laying the hedge as best we can will make it a dense wildlife habitat and is far-preferable to trimming it.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 19 Feb 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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This week we make our February visit to one of our favourite sites in the Chiltern Hills. Well-known to travellers on the M40 for its huge numbers of red kites, this National Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Natural England for the benefit of wildlife and to maintain public access. We'll be helping out the wardens who manage it with the priority projects for this month whether it be scrub clearance, coppicing, or a little winter sheep work. Whichever, the work will be described in the weekly email, so now's a good time to check you're on our mailing list. We're always looking for volunteers to lead tasks. If you'd like to help out, then this would be a good one to start with. If you're interested contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Chris Skepper

Saturday 25 Feb 2017Scrub ClearanceSwyncombe Estate, South Oxfordshire
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Swyncombe Estate consists of over 600 acres of high, mature beech woodland and chalk grassland in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding National Beauty. For today's task, another occasional Saturday outing, we'll be cutting scrub on Sliding Hill, the western extension of Swyncombe Down, just south of the village of Watlington. This will help maintain the unimproved chalk grassland and hence the wild flower species special to the Chiltern hills. On a clear day there are extensive views across the surrounding landscape.
Leader: Jo HaydukDriver: Phil Hunter

Saturday 25 Feb 2017Post-task social - curry Chutneys, Indian restaurant
Join us at 18:00 for a curry at Chutneys Restaurant. You don't need to have been on the day's task (or ever been to one). Email enquiries@ocv.org.uk to book a place.
Contact: Tim

Sunday 26 Feb 2017Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Stansfeld Park in Headington Quarry is set within 18 acres of woodland with ponds, marshland and meadows. The undulating landscape results from quarrying for limestone in the area that was used to build many of Oxford's colleges, churches and civic buildings. When quarrying ended, a variety of habitats formed, including limestone grassland, ash and hazel woodland, dense hawthorn scrub, ponds and wetland. The Oxford Trust has taken over the development and management of the site as a combined innovation and science education centre, and as a new space for the local community to enjoy. For more information see http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/ ('Rejuvenating Stansfeld'). Precise details of the day's work will be circulated in the weekly email so make sure you're on the list!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 5 Mar 2017Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another day's work at the Trap Grounds, an extensive urban wildlife site in North Oxford. As usual, we'll be working alongside the Friends of The Trap Grounds on a range of seasonal jobs which at this time of year might include anything from bramble bashing, path maintenance, landscaping, or early season work on the meadow areas. There'll be more details posted nearer the day in the weekly OCV email.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 7 Mar 2017Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Mar 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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An early Spring visit to this National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns, owned and managed by Natural England. You'll recognise the landscape if you've ever travelled towards London on the M40. Indeed, you'll see up close the chalk geology that determines the character of the reserve and its fauna and flora as you drive through the immense cutting in the hillside. Today we'll be helping the wardens care for the grassland, or the woods and paths that sit on top of the chalk. As usual, everyone's welcome! This is a big site so watch out for the weekly email for precise details as to the location of today's task.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Thursday 16 Mar 2017Pizza Social - 7pmPizzeria da Mario
A chance to enjoy the finest pizza in Oxford at Mario's on Cowley Road. There's also other traditional Italian food on the menu, including a great range of pasta dishes. Afterwards we'll probably go for a drink at The Star, so feel free to meet us there later if you prefer. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come to a social - everyone is welcome. Let me know on socials@ocv.org.uk if you'll be coming so I know numbers for booking a table. Hope you can make it!
Contact: Chris

Sunday 19 Mar 2017Reserve MaintenanceJubilee Fields and Long Meadow, Wootton, West Oxfordshire
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Jubilee Fields were purchased from the Duke of Marlborough by the Wootton Conservation Trust in 2003 to mark the Queen's jubilee. It's a lovely site at any time of year lying between the rivers Glyme and Dorn, and, as usual, there are likely to be several parts to today's task, including, at the time of writing, some elementary bridge repairs.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 26 Mar 2017Dry Stone WallingDeddington Parish, North Oxfordshire
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Over previous years we've spent many happy hours hard labour on the drystone wall at the Deddington Castle site, and the plan for today is to start work on the final, most heavily overgrown section. We'll clear and then dismantle around three meters of half-collapsed wall, sort the stone, locate and prepare more material for the rebuilding, and lay the foundations. If there's enough of us, there's also work to do shifting cut and fallen timber from the ramparts on the eastern side of the site. As usual, we'll be working for Deddington Parish Council. Note that British Summer Time began at midnight last night! Oh yes, and it's Mothers' Day, that's OK - she can come too.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Sunday 2 Apr 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our April visit to this important National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. It's a site that includes important chalk grassland grazed by flocks of sheep. We're always looking for new task leaders (OCV depends on some volunteers being willing to lead) and an Aston Rowant task is a great opportunity to try it out under the supervision of one of the Natural England wardens, either Mick or Kate, who manage the site. Contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk for more details. At this time of year we might be looking after the sheep themselves, improving conditions for the flora and fauna special to the site, or maintaining good public access along the various paths. Full details will be in the weekly email as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Nic Bricknell

Tuesday 4 Apr 2017Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 9 Apr 2017Woodland MaintenanceCumnor Hurst Community Woodland
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Back in 2011 we helped establish this 17 acre community woodland by planting a range of native trees. Six years later we've been asked back to help out with some maintenance.The site is adjacent to the Hurst Hill Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Most of the woodland is now planted, but there's a need to fill-in and re-stock some areas. We'll be working alongside local residents to knock back the weedy undergrowth and then mulch with biochar to give the more recently planted saplings the best chance to thrive. By the way, on that February day in 2011 we also put up a shed - it's still looking good!
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 16 Apr 2017Dry Stone WallingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Rectory Farm Fields is an extensive area of open ground just to the east of Church Street, Kidlington. We'll be working for a private client who wants to manage the land for its natural flora and fauna. BBOWT and the RSPB have made encouraging reports on the site's present and future significance for local wild life. The long term plan is to restore what were once extensive hedge and wall lines. Dry stone walls can make for a good home for a range of wildlife, providing shelter for invertebrates, small mammals and lizards. If you've never done this before this is a great opportunity to have a go at a traditional countryside craft. As usual no experience is necessary and it's one of the few conservation activities we do that doesn't really need any tools. Come along and see if you've got the knack!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Alison Hopkin

Sunday 23 Apr 2017Reed Cutting & RakingSimon's Land, Sandford on Thames, Oxford
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This secluded half acre of gently sloping reed-bed leads down to the Thames to the north of Sandford. The river bank was once the mooring site of the former Magdalen College Barge. In March 2007 the land was donated to the Oxford Preservation Trust by Mr and Mrs Simons of Boars Hill. Last summer we mowed and raked the site to enhance the potential for native flora. As last year we'll be using our Austrian scythes. Today's task will be the first of two cuts this summer in line with a management plan to keep on top of the re-growth. It's likely to be wet underfoot so bring wellies!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Saturday 29 Apr 2017Boardwalk Construction & Site Maintenance IStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Today sees one of our occasional Saturday tasks, the first of two consecutive days work at Stansfeld Park. For more on the exciting prospects for Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust see their website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/. There's plenty to do, and we'll focus on two main tasks: the first is to dismantle and replace a decayed 6 meter stretch of rotten boardwalk in the woods at the northern end of the site; the second is to begin removing extensive areas of pendulous sedge.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Alison Hopkin

Sunday 30 Apr 2017Boardwalk Construction & Site Maintenance IIStansfeld Park, Oxford
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What precisely we tackle today (Sunday) will depend on how we got on yesterday. There may be more work to be done on the boardwalk as there's a freestanding handrail to add on either side of it. In any case, there's more than enough pendulous sedge in the woods and meadow areas to keep us busy. Another proposal is that we reclaim as much as we can of the materials that were used in the old adventure/activity area of the site (decking, railway sleepers, posts and poles) for reuse in the future. As ever, look out for details nearer the day posted via the OCV email list.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 2 May 2017Annual General Meeting at 8pmTown Hall
The Annual General Meeting will be held at 8pm on Tuesday the 2nd May in the Jury Room at the Town Hall (on St. Aldates). Everyone is welcome at the AGM, however often you come out on tasks, or if you just want to find out what we've been up to over the last year (you don't need to be a member). We'll have a report about the previous year, and then elect the committee for next year. The official meeting shouldn't take too long, and then we'll be heading to the Royal Blenheim pub for a drink. If anyone is interested in standing for a committee position, please email secretary@ocv.org.uk before Tuesday 25th April.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 7 May 2017Pond Work & Reserve MaintenanceMilham Ford Nature Park
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Milham Ford Nature Park stream and ponds were created in 2008-2009 in an area that had previously been 8 tarmac tennis courts for use of the previous Milham Ford School. A stream which had been piped underground across the playing field was brought to the surface, meandered, and now feeds a complex of 4 interlinked ponds. We'll be in the ponds, working on the damn that separates two of them, and removing invasive plant growth to re-establish areas of open water beloved by dragonflies. There will also be work to be done on the banks and the pond surrounds if you'd rather not wade in.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 14 May 2017Dry Stone WallingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Today we'll crack on with the restoration of the dry stone walls that divide the site into discrete pastures and that provide an excellent habitat for a range of wildlife. That's in addition to the officially resident animal life: horses, and, last year, a couple of very inquisitive piglets. We'll be doing a short introduction to walling at the start of the day, so no experience is necessary. It's the kind of work that you learn by doing. But there is a kind of knack to it, so if you've done it before we will certainly need you!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Chris Skepper

Sunday 21 May 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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We're back to one of our favourite sites this week. We'll be helping the Reserve warden maintain the nationally important calcareous grassland habitat. At this time of year we might actually begin to see some of the rare plants that our work helps to protect. We could be helping out with fence and gate repairs, looking after one of the flocks of sheep, or doing whatever other maintenance jobs are required on the site. As usual everyone will be welcome and full details of the project and the meeting place will be given in the weekly email. If you've ever thought about getting more involved as an OCV task leader then this would be a great one to start with. Contact Phil Hunter tasks@ocv.org.uk for more info.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Tuesday 23 May 2017Pub social - 7.30pmThe Turf Tavern
Join us for a beer or two at this iconic (if somewhat hard to find) Oxford pub. If the weather's nice we'll be sat outside. You don't have to be a regular volunteer to come to socials, and newcomers are particularly welcome to come and say hi. No need to tell us you're coming, it's fine to just turn up on the day, but feel free to contact chair@ocv.org.uk if you want us to look out for you. Hope to see you there!
Contact: Chris

Sunday 28 May 2017Access Construction WorkHeyford Meadow Nature Reserve
A new site for OCV. The meadow is hard by the Thames just North of Sandford and was bequeathed to the Oxford Preservation Trust in 2006. OPT has managed the site since with spectacular results. It's now a mixed habitat with meadow, wetland, ponds, and woodland. We've been tasked to improve the access at the northern end of the site. We'll relocate a pedestrian gate, make adjustments to some post and rail fencing, and install a short stretch of gravel pathway.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 4 Jun 2017Dry Stone WallingEnstone Sports and Social Club, Near Enstone, Oxfordshire
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Please note the change from the advertised task at Sydling's Copse! One consequence of the cold, dry spell earlier in the spring is that the bracken has grown on much less strongly than expected, and what there is in piecemeal patches dotted around the heath. There isn't enough to keep us busy for a whole day, so we'll switch tasks and travel up to Enstone to carry out repairs on two short lengths of dry stone wall at the local sports ground. We were last here in 2015 to do a similar job - see the galley photos for some idea of what's involved.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 6 Jun 2017Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 11 Jun 2017Reserve MaintenanceShotover Country Park, Oxford
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Another task working on behalf of the City Council on this popular, well used, and extensive site to the east of Oxford. The park contains one of the few areas of unimproved heath and acid grassland in Oxfordshire, and considerable conservation efforts have been made to maintain and reinstate areas of this important habitat. The plan at time of writing is to work on the south-facing heathland in Mary Sadler's Field. As usual, we'll be alongside members of Shotover Wildlife. Further details of today's task will be announced in the weekly email so make sure you're on the mailing list!
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 18 Jun 2017Boardwalk ConstructionRivermead Nature Park
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Rivermead Nature Park is a small 3 hectare site owned by Oxford City Council. It nestles between Rose Hill, the Oxford eastern Bypass and the river Thames, and it's one of the three sites originally nominated for special attention under the Wild Oxford initiative (search 'rivermead wild oxford' for more info, and the detailed reports on the site by ecologist Judy Webb). We'll spend today building a low-rise 10 meter boardwalk to traverse a poorly drained section of path that is more often a mud slide than a secure footway.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 20 Jun 2017Punting social 7pmCherwell Boat House
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Join us for a traditional Summer activity for Oxford and OCV: punting on the river. Meet at the Cherwell Boat House at 7pm. Bring food and drink for a picnic and money for punt hire and we'll head up the river. Everyone welcome as usual. Contact chair@ocv.org.uk for more information.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 25 Jun 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our monthly return visit to this important National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. It's a site that includes important chalk grassland grazed by flocks of sheep. We'll be working with a warden from Natural England. Early summer means it's likely that we'll be working to improve public access on the site by improving paths, installing hand-rails and gates, or repairing post and wire fences. Whatever the work, and whatever the weather, full details will be in the weekly email as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 2 Jul 2017Fen Cutting and RakingLye Valley, Oxford
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There are two fens at Lye Valley: one to the north, off the Slade; and one to the south, by the golf course. Today we'll work on the south fen. Once again, we'll be joined by the Friends of Lye Valley, and ecologist Judy Webb, who usually manages to find, and photograph, all kinds of fascinating things (click on 'Reserves', then 'Lye Valley', then 'Photos'). It's the kind of job that needs lots of people, so come along and lend a hand. If there's been rain, you'll need wellies.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Tim Evans

Tuesday 4 Jul 2017Committee Meeting 8-9pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 9 Jul 2017Fen Cutting and RakingLye Valley, Oxford
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A second successive Sunday at Lye Valley. It used to be the case that we could rake both fens in the valley in a single day. It's a mark of the progressive improvement in the quality and extent of this relatively rare habitat that it now takes us two full days. The Friends of Lye Valley have been making constant improvements and the results are impressive - come and see for yourself. This Sunday we'll be on, and possibly in, the north fen. As last week, if there's been rain, you'll need wellies.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ray Hitchins

Sunday 16 Jul 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our regular monthly visit to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve in the Chilterns. The site is run by Natural England and, as usual, we'll be working under the guidance of one of the site wardens. Summer time work at Aston Rowant could be fencing, path work, or looking after the sheep. As usual, the details of the planned work will be announced on the mailing list in the week preceding the task. So if you're not already on our mailing list, then now is the time to join it.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 23 Jul 2017Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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Stansfeld Park in Headington Quarry, Oxford is set within 18 acres of woodland with ponds, marshland and meadows. The undulating landscape results from quarrying for limestone in the area that was used to build many of Oxford's colleges, churches and civic buildings. When quarrying ended, a variety of habitats formed, including limestone grassland, ash and hazel woodland, dense hawthorn scrub, ponds and wetland. We'll be working for the Oxford Trust who have taken on the job of rejuvenating the site partly as a local amenity and partly as an educational resource. For more on the exciting prospects for Stansfeld Park under the management of The Oxford Trust see their website: http://theoxfordtrust.co.uk/stansfeld-education-centre/.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Saturday 29 Jul 2017Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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One of our occasional Saturday tasks at this special location in North Oxford sandwiched between the canal and the main railway line into Oxford. It's managed by the Friends of Trap Grounds (http://trap-grounds.org.uk/) and has been recently granted the status of Local Wildlife Site. We usually tackle a challenging list of jobs whenever we go to the Trap Grounds and, as normal, the details will be posted in the weekly task email. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 30 Jul 2017Dry Stone Walling & Site MaintenanceRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Today we'll pick up, literally, from where we left off earlier in the summer, and if today's task goes as well there's a good chance we'll finish the current section of wall. There's a surprisingly large amount of good quality stone on site, so there's plenty of material to work with. Do you have a knack for dry-stone walling? The only way to find out is to do it! There's still a significant amount of stone that needs to be dug up, sorted, and laid out for future work. We'll also take down an old post and wire fence to clear the way for some extensive hedge-laying later in the year. So even if you don't fancy the dry-stone walling there should be enough to keep you busy.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Ray Hitchins

Saturday 5 Aug 2017Tool Shed Clearout and Tool Maintenance 11amCutteslowe Tool Store
Today's plan is to clean out the tool shed: get everything out, get rid of any rubbish, sweep out the dirt that's built up, and seal up some of the holes that let the mice in. We'll also do some tool sharpening before the start of the scrub bashing season, renew some yellow paint and maybe even clean the minibus if we have enough people. There's absolutely loads to do, so the more people who can help the better. Afterwards we might go to a pub in Wolvercote for a well-earned pint and/or something to eat. Contact chair@ocv.org.uk for details if you're able to come and help out.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 6 Aug 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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This National Nature Reserve is an OCV favourite. It's set on the chalk slopes that mark the western boundary of the Chiltern Hills. The sheep-cropped grass that covers the chalk is an ideal wild flower habitat. Our work here in high summer usually involves either the maintenance and improvement of the means of public access or hands-on care of the sheep. We'll be working with one of the reserve wardens, which means that if you've ever thought about leading a task then this would be a good one to start with. If you're interested contact Phil at tasks@ocv.org.uk. Full details of the day's work will be posted in the weekly email as usual.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Tuesday 8 Aug 2017Committee Meeting 8pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 13 Aug 2017Reed Cutting & RakingIffley Island, Oxford
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Another OCV task for high summer: our regular cut of this SSSI by the Thames, on behalf of the Oxford Preservation Trust. Despite its name the site is not quite an island, but there are houseboats on an inlet to one side and the open river to another. We'll cut the sedge and reeds and rake the cuttings off so they won't enrich the soil. The end result is beneficial to the wild flowers on the site, and, in particular, to the fritillaries hereabouts. If the sun shines this is one of the high-lights of the OCV calendar. As last year we'll be using our set of Austrian Scythes.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Ed Polehampton

Sunday 20 Aug 2017Meadow Mowing & RakingCuxham, South Oxfordshire
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A new site for OCV. The residents of Cuxham want to establish a new wild flower meadow in their village. So today we'll help out by cutting the meadow and raking clear the mown swaths. It's a good size, but mainly level ground and with grasses rather than reeds and sedge (unlike Iffley island), so today's task is likely to be a lot closer to the genuine experience of traditional scythe mowing.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 26 Aug 2017Platform Construction IRivermead Nature Park
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You might not expect to find a nature park hard by Rose Hill housing estate, bordered by the Southern Bypass and the River Thames - but here it is. Back in June we built a boardwalk on site and this weekend we'll return to do some more construction work. The plan has two elements. The first is to install a rectangular dipping platform on the edge of the pond. The second is to extend an existing platform so as to fit a shallow ramp that will enable wheel-chair access. We'll be working on behalf of the Council and in cooperation with BBOWT's Wild Oxford project (see http://www.bbowt.org.uk/wildoxford for more details).
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 27 Aug 2017Platform Construction IIRivermead Nature Park
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Today we'll finish what we started yesterday! If you worked on the boardwalk in June, or on our other recent construction jobs in Lye Valley, you'll be familiar with the materials we'll be using: recycled plastic rather than treated timber. It can be tough on saws and drills but should last until kingdom come. The platform extension and ramp is all on dry land, but the dipping platform will involve some work in the pond itself so we'll provide thigh and chest waders.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Phil Hunter

Sunday 3 Sep 2017Grass RakingSt Mary's Fields, Kidlington, Oxfordshire
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As last summer, we'll be working with the determined group of volunteers who maintain this popular conservation area owned by the local parish council and situated between St. Mary's Church and the river Cherwell. The job is to rake off the mown material from the yearly grass-cut. This is important to keep the fertility of the soil low and so encourage the rarer plants and wildflowers. It will be hard, but straightforward work and important for biodiversity. It's a big site, and a big task, but if last year is anything to go by the provision of generous, high quality, home-made cake rations will help.
Leader: Tim EvansDriver: Tim Bletsoe

Tuesday 5 Sep 2017Committee meeting 8pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 10 Sep 2017Reed & Bramble CuttingSimon's Land, Sandford on Thames, Oxford
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This secluded half acre of gently sloping reed-bed leads down to the Thames to the North of Sandford. The river bank was once the mooring site of the former Magdalen College Barge. In March 2007 the land was donated to the Oxford Preservation Trust by Mr and Mrs Simons of Boars Hill. This will be our second visit of the summer. We'll knock back any re-growth in the reed bed and, after grazing on blackberries, tackle the large bramble patch that borders the upstream side of the site. As before, we'll be working on behalf of the Oxford Preservation Trust. It'll be wet underfoot so bring wellies!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Thursday 14 Sep 2017Burger Social 7pmAtomic Burger, Cowley Road
Join us for a burger at Atomic Burger on Cowley Road in Oxford. It's highly recommended for its unique menu and style. Everyone's welcome, even if you're not a regular on tasks, but just want to find out about OCV. If you'd like to come then please email chair@ocv.org.uk so that we can book a table for the right number of people.
Contact: Chris

Sunday 17 Sep 2017Site MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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The Oxford Trust are pressing on with the rejuvenation of Stansfeld and it's likely that today we'll be mowing and raking the grassland areas of the site and cutting back extensive areas of scrub. There's a good chance that today will see the first bonfire of the season - a significant moment in the OCV calendar.
Leader: Chris SkepperDriver: Tim Howard

Saturday 23 Sep 2017Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another Saturday at this special location in North Oxford managed by the Friends of Trap Grounds (http://trap-grounds.org.uk/). Recently granted the status of Local Wildlife Site. We usually tackle a challenging list of jobs whenever we go to the Trap Grounds and, as normal, the details will be posted in the weekly task email. Make sure you're on the OCV mailing list!
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 24 Sep 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our late Summer visit to our most regular work site: a National Nature Reserve on the Chiltern escarpment just above the Ridgeway footpath. On a clear day there are extensive views across Aylesbury Vale past, and sometimes over, the Red Kites that cruise the updrafts. Whatever the task, we'll be working with one of the highly-knowledgeable wardens from Natural England. Exact details of the work involved for today's visit will be announced nearer the time via the OCV email list.
Leader: Tim BletsoeDriver: Tim Howard

Sunday 1 Oct 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston's Eyot, Oxford
As far as we can tell, the first OCV task took place on October 2nd 1977, which makes today's task, as near as possible, our 40th anniversary. There may be cake. To mark the occasion we'll be working on a site in Oxford that predates us by something like 600 years. See the Aston's Eyot Friends website for more info: (http://friendsofastonseyot.org.uk/). One ex-OCV volunteer worked here back in 1981 on a tree planting project and, in his own words, 'now those trees are an urban forest. The group's work has lasting value in the scale of a person's life and possibly in the scale of Oxford history.' If there are any other OCV old-timers out there it would be great to see you at today's task! The large 30 acre site is an 'island' bordered by the Thames, Cherwell New Cut and Shire Lake Ditch, just downstream from Christ Church Meadow. The land is owned by Christ Church college and is managed by an enthusiastic Friends group with some help from the Oxford City Council. We'll be working for, and with, the Friends to open up the southern end of the Shire Lake Ditch at the point where it meets the Thames. It's likely to be mucky, smelly, and wet so bring wellingtons. If the water levels turn out to be too high, then we'll pollard and coppice nearby willows.
Leader: Phil HunterDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 3 Oct 2017Committee meeting 8pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 8 Oct 2017Scrub BashingCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Created in 1997, Crecy Hill Local Nature Reserve is a County Wildlife Site and Local Nature Reserve in Tackley, ten miles north of Oxford. The reserve is sited on the slope of a railway embankment with views across the open, rolling countryside opposite. We'll spend the day cutting back and burning extensive scrub to open up the paths and restore access to the site for both local people and the cattle that will be put to graze over the winter.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 15 Oct 2017Fen Raking I (South Fen)Lye Valley, Oxford
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Today is the first of two days work in Lye Valley, Headington. The early autumn cut of both fens in the valley, the north fen and the south fen, is the major cut of the year. The plan is for Oxford City Council to do most of the cutting and we'll do the clearing, with help from the Friends of Lye Valley. What the Council can't cut with their machinery we'll tackle with scythes. Ecologist and Lye Valley expert Judy Webb will be with us too. (See a selection of her photographs taken on site in the photo gallery.) At the time of writing we'll be working on the south fen first (that's the fen with no public access by the golf course) but check the weekly email for confirmation, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list! Wellies recommended.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 22 Oct 2017Fen Raking II (North Fen)Lye Valley, Oxford
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Day two in Lye Valley. Whichever fen we raked last Sunday, today we'll rake the other one! At the time of writing that should be the larger north fen. Check the general task email that will be circulated sometime in the preceding week. There's also a chance we'll be cutting back and pollarding encroaching willow. OCV have been involved with the Lye Valley Nature Reserve in East Oxford for many years now. Even though it's a small acreage, it's an important, long-standing, and relatively rare, urban habitat. As last week, you'll need wellies even if there's been no rain.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 28 Oct 2017Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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Another Saturday task at the Trap Grounds: a small pocket of countryside in the middle of urban north Oxford between the canal and the railway. A group of local residents fought and won an epic legal battle to stop it being developed for housing. Formerly a dump (literally!) it's now a designated Local Wildlife Site and consists of several interrelated habitats: ponds, wetland, woodland, and meadow. Despite years of successful reclamation work on the site there are still strata of junk and rubbish to be found and dug out in the more remote corners. We'll be working in collaboration with the Trap Grounds Friends. They usually find all manner of things for us to do, last time we took to the large pond in their newly acquired boat. Whatever the work, it's likely that we'll be doing some seasonal bramble bashing.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 29 Oct 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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The beech woodland of the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve always looks magnificent from late October to the onset of winter. This month's visit will most likely see us working in the woods themselves or on the more open slopes of the escarpment cutting back invasive scrub and undergrowth. As usual, we'll be working with one of the Reserve's wardens, and, again as usual, the details will be announced in the weekly OCV email. We're always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn't keep going, and we're significantly short of volunteers prepared to lead at the moment. If you're interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . At Aston Rowant we always work under the guidance of one of the reserve's wardens, so today would be a great opportunity to try it out. Note that British Summer Time ended last night!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 5 Nov 2017Reserve MaintenanceStansfeld Park, Oxford
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November 5th. Gunpowder, treason, and plot? Probably not. But a decent bonfire is a racing certainty. Today sees us back at Stansfeld Park to continue work on the rejuvenation of the 18 acre site that includes woodland, ponds, and meadow grass. We'll work for the Oxford Trust, who have taken on the job of developing the site as a combined innovation and science education centre, and as a new space for the local community to enjoy. By arrangement with Dr. Roger Baker (The Trust's Educational Support Officer) we hope to involve local families in today's task - everyone's welcome!
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 7 Nov 2017Committee meeting 8pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 12 Nov 2017CoppicingShotover Country Park, Oxford
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A return to Brasenose Wood. We'll continue the work we began last winter and, as then, we'll be working with Shotover Wildlife who have been trialling a high-cut coppice regime. This is a technique designed to compensate for the problems caused by deer who graze on the tender regrowth of newly coppiced stools. The wood is a designated SSSI, diverse in species, a great place for bird song, and a rich habitat for a wide diversity of wildlife. We'll also look to harvest hazel stakes and binders for hedge-laying later in the year.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Saturday 18 Nov 2017Reserve MaintenanceTrap Grounds, Oxford
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A Saturday at The Trap Grounds usually involves a mix of conservation work: coppicing, pond-work, bramble bashing, tree-planting, and, given the Grounds history as a town dump, the exhumation of some extraordinary junk. As usual, we'll be working with the ever enthusiastic Friends of The Trap Grounds. Watch out for more details via the general mailing list nearer the day.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 19 Nov 2017Scrub BashingIsland Pond Wood, Launton, Bicester
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Island Pond Wood is a small site of just over 4 hectares located close to the village of Launton. It's a relatively new woodland established in 1999 as part of The Woodland Trust's 'Woods on Your Doorstep' scheme. Members of the local community planted it and continue to take an active part in its management. This will be our third visit in as many years to help them keep in check the dense barrier of blackthorn that borders two sides of the site.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 26 Nov 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Another of our regular monthly visits to Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England and situated on the western edge of the Chilterns with extensive views across the Oxfordshire plain. The Reserve supports juniper, an extensive variety of wild flowers native to unimproved chalk grassland, together with sheep, woodland, and an abundance of red kites. Exactly what we do today, and where, will be announced in the weekly email so make sure you're on the general email list for the details. We're always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn't keep going, and we're significantly short of volunteers prepared to lead at the moment. So if you're interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on a task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 3 Dec 2017Hedge LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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Rectory Farm Fields is an extensive area of open ground just to the East of Church Street, Kidlington. We'll be working for a private client who wants to manage the land for its natural flora and fauna. BBOWT and the RSPB have made encouraging reports on the site's present and future significance for local wild life. The long term plan is to restore what were once extensive hedge and wall lines. Up till now we've been concentrating on the walls, today we'll turn to the hedges, specifically an old hedge-line that's been several years growing further and further out of shape! Earlier in the year we removed an old post and wire fence to improve access and to enable some extensive siding-up work to be done. Today we should get a good idea of just how much of the old material can still be usefully laid.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Tuesday 5 Dec 2017Committee meeting 8pmTown Hall
The committee meets once a month in the Oxford Town Hall to make sure that the group operates smoothly.This month we're in the Jury Room - if you'd like to come along and see how we run things and perhaps get more involved, please feel free to join us. Alternatively, we'll be in the Royal Blenheim pub from about 9pm.
Contact: Ed

Sunday 10 Dec 2017Reserve MaintenanceAston Rowant NNR, South Oxfordshire
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Our final visit of the year to a favourite site on the cusp of the Chilterns managed by Natural England. It's more likely than not that we'll be working either in the woods or on the grassland slopes. Exact details of the day's work will be posted in the weekly email, so make sure you're on the OCV mailing list! Once again, we're always looking for volunteers who might lead tasks, indeed without leaders we couldn't keep going, and we're significantly short of volunteers prepared to lead at the moment. So if you're interested contact Phil Hunter via tasks@ocv.org.uk . An Aston Rowant task is a great way to start. You'll be under the guidance of one of the reserve's wardens - Mick or Kate. Any of our current leaders will be happy to help you get started by doubling up on a task to show you the ropes.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 17 Dec 2017Scrub BashingCrecy Hill LWS, Tackley, Oxfordshire
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Another day's work on behalf of the local parish council to reclaim this small but beautifully sited reserve from invasive scrub. The management plan involves grazing the reserve with livestock - Dexters, apparently the smallest British breed of cattle. The hope is that they'll nibble the nascent scrub, but if they're to do their thing we need to open up some grazing areas for them by taking out the mature bramble and hawthorn.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 24 Dec 2017Christmas Eve
No task today! Happy Christmas.
 

Saturday 30 Dec 2017Hedge LayingRectory Farm Fields, Kidlington
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See out the old year with some hedge-laying! Hedges make great habitat for all sorts of wildlife and for the final task of 2017 we're back in old Kidlington on the penultimate day of the year, a Saturday, to continue work on an extensive hedge-line that borders one of the pastures at Rectory Farm Fields. We'll pick up from where we left off earlier in the month. There will be more scrub and top growth to cut and burn, and we'll stake and bind the laid material to encourage dense re-growth in subsequent seasons.
Leader: Volunteer to leadDriver: Volunteer to drive

Sunday 31 Dec 2017New Year's Eve
Another Sunday off! We'll be back in the New Year.