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Wonford Planters formed in 2016. We are a small community voluntary gardening group and we all live on the Burnthouse Lane estate. Cuts to local authority funding have meant that a lot of the public green spaces in the area had become very unsightly and badly overgrown. This is where we step in.
We love our community and our aim is to enhance and improve these spaces for the benefit of Wonford residents and Exeter as a whole, making the whole area much improved for all who live here and anyone travelling through it.
In 2016 we began work on the mini-roundabout in Laburnum Road. This was very badly overgrown and will take some time to improve but it’s getting there. In the summer of 2016 Wonford entered the ‘Village’ category of South West in Bloom for the first time and we achieved a silver award. Wonford Planters as a group entered the IYN ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ category and we achieved ‘Level 3 – Advancing’. We were extremely proud to attain this level at our first attempt.
In 2017 we worked on the Wonford Green GP surgery gardens and planted many wildflowers.
We plan to plant more this year.
Another of our projects is the two spaces outside the One Stop shop and the Dolphin Fish & Chip shop in Burnthouse Lane. In 2016 we began to raise funds to make repairs and improvements to these spaces and enlisted the help of Graham Densham and his lads from the Dolphin.
We had various set-backs and delays in gaining information from Devon County Council and then found more funding had to be raised in order to get the repair work and improvements done. Finally, in January this year we achieved it.
Here are the before and after pictures.
The next steps now are to get these areas planted up with suitable shrubs and plants and we hope you will agree that it’s a vast improvement on what they looked like previously.
We are planning to enter South West in Bloom again this year and would greatly appreciate any feedback or ideas. Please contact us via our Facebook page, ‘Wonford Planters’, or Twitter, @wonfordplanters.
And finally, some history of our estate. During the 19th century the West Quarter of Exeter had become a slum area with overcrowded and unhygienic accommodation. The City Council embarked on an ambitious development of new housing, using some of the new ideas developed by the ‘Garden City Movement’. On 21st February 1928 a compulsory purchase order was made by the City Council for 90 acres of farmland on either side of a lane in Wonford, which took its name, Burnthouse Lane, after a farmhouse that burnt to the ground one Saturday night.
The estate was designed by city architect John Bennett with the ethos of the Garden City in mind. They built schools, churches, shops, a recreation ground and its own pub, the Dolphin, named after the Dolphin Tavern that was established in Guinea Street in the West Quarter in 1844. Bradley Rowe School (now Wynstream) was built in 1932 and was a mixed primary school with a separate secondary school. In 1937 boys from the secondary school were transferred to the Senior Boys School at Ladysmith Road and in 1952 the girls transferred to Priory High School (now Isca College).
Wonford Planters’ aim is to bring back some of the garden city ethos and reintroduce the power of plants and colour back into Wonford.
Thank you for reading.
Learn to Use Social Media for your Group
Fun, relaxed workshop
run by volunteers for volunteers
Saturday January 27th11.00–2.00
Phoenix Suite, Wonford Community Centre
When? Saturday January 27th11.00–2.00
Where? Wonford Community Centre (Phoenix Suite), next to Wonford Leisure Centre / 1 minute walk from Lidl Wonford. Plenty of free parking, and well served by buses
What? Informal, relaxed hands-on ‘learning how to do’, being shown how by people in the network who have done it for their group. Twitter, Facebook, creating a free website and using mailchimp for newsletters will be the main focus.
Bring? Please bring your own laptop if you have one, but we will have some spare ones if you don’t. Hot drinks provided, please bring your own lunch and ideally, something nice to share around eg biscuits.
Cost? Exeter Green Spaces Network has exactly £0 in the bank, so we will ask everyone attending to make a minimum donation of £5 to cover room hire.
I want to come! What do I need to do?
We need to know how many people to expect in order to make the experience work for everyone.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place, and let us have:
- Your name and which green space group you are in
- Whether you can bring a laptop with you
- The main areas of social media you want to learn about and anything specific you want to learn eg ‘how to set up and use a Twitter account’.
This event has been planned by and for people from Exeter Green Space Network’s member groups. If we find we have spare places, we will open the workshop up to people from other community groups.
This year we’ve made substantial improvements to the uncared for spaces around Wonford. Our current work includes the brick planters along Burnthouse Lane and the mini roundabout in Laburnum Road. We’ve also worked with the Wonford Surgery GPs to improve and enhance the surgery gardens and will soon begin work on the top corner of Kipling Drive. Large wildflower areas are now in place around the lower end of Burnthouse Lane and we have plans for more in 2018.
Funding from city and county ward grants have meant that we’ve been able to procure the services of the Community Payback teams to assist with some of the heavier work and they’ve also planted many spring bulbs around the area. We also work in conjunction with Wynstream Primary School who supplied compost and wood chip materials. Even the cat helped…
One of our main projects is the two spaces outside the One Stop shop and the Dolphin Fish & Chip shop. We’ve had a few quotes for repairs to the edges and installation of a low fence and are planning to submit a further bid for the funding to get the work done. Once the edges are repaired we can then plant up with suitable shrubs and spring bulbs.
This summer we entered the It’s Your Neighbourhood category of South West in Bloom and achieved a ‘Level 4; Thriving’ award, which is one step up from 2016.
And finally, a bit of history; during the 19th century, the West Quarter had become an impoverished slum area, with crowded and unhygienic accommodation. On 21 February 1928 a compulsory purchase order was made by Exeter City Council for 90 acres of farmland on either side of a lane in Wonford, which took its name, Burnthouse Lane, after a farmhouse that burnt to the ground one Saturday night. The estate was designed by city architect John Bennett and built with the ethos of the ‘Garden Suburb Movement’.
More recent times have seen our public green spaces falling into disrepair and becoming uncared for and unsightly. The aim of Wonford Planters is to make these spaces lovely again for the benefit of our community, thereby bringing the Garden City ethos back to Wonford!
Wednesday, June 28th
6.30 – 8.30pm
Wonford Methodist Hall, Burnthouse Lane
What’s Going on in Ludwell Valley?
Come and find out!
FoodCycle Exeter serves 1000 meals
FoodCycle Exeter, a project which serves community meals made from surplus food has reached a significant milestone: 1000 meals in just over a year.
The project, which has grown from strength to strength, has served over 1,000 three-course meals every Tuesday night since March 2016 in Wonford Community Centre.
In the last year, the volunteer team has saved over a tonne of food from going in the bin and instead used it to cook and serve 1,000 meals as well as give away over 350 parcels of food for guests to take home.
Regular guest, James, said “I really appreciate it. I like chatting to people”
Nick, a new guest with no family said he saw the flyer adverting the meal and that “it is great if you are a bit lonely…it feeds your mind, it feeds your body“.
Sue, a regular guest, takes two buses across the city to get to FoodCycle Exeter and has has been attending weekly for a year. She said “I like the variety of food and company”.
Ali, a volunteer who leads the volunteer team, said “I love meeting new volunteers and guests every week. It is really motivating to see the positive impact FoodCycle has on guests and volunteers alike.”
Eat with us: come and join us for a free, delicious meal every Tuesday night at 6pm in Wonford Community and Learning Centre.
Community Café opening, in the Phoenix Suite (next to the sports centre)
Mondays 1pm -3pm and
Thursdays 10am – 12pm
Join us for a tea or coffee, find out more about what’s on in Wonford
We started work again early this year, carrying on with the improvement on the Laburnum Road roundabout and once again the Exeter Police Cadets came to help us start the work off.
We’ll carry on with this; it will take some time as we’re still concentrating on getting the brambles, weeds and couch grass cleared out, whilst gradually putting in various plants from our own gardens or those that have been donated. We’re meeting lots of lovely people who walk through as we’re working. All say that they appreciate our work and efforts towards improvement to the area. We do intend to enter into South West in Bloom again this year but just the It’s Your Neighbourhood (IYN) category.
The other main focus is to carry on with the improvements on the two areas outside the One Stop shop and the Dolphin Chip Shop in Burnthouse Lane. Last summer five local guys cleared off the weeds and did a great job. This secured funding from Alcoa Howmet. We have drawn up a plan to make these areas look a lot better but needed to ascertain permission for these from Devon County Highways. This took several months.
We’re now looking at getting the edges repaired and to that extent would like to seek the assistance of a local builder to do us a quote for this work. Once that’s done we can move forward with getting those areas looking a lot better than they do now. We have drawn up some plans and would like to ask the students from Isca College to design and build some sort of structure for us. We have been in touch with the school about this since last year but to date haven’t received any news that anyone is interested in becoming involved.
If any Isca students read this and would like to make your local area outside these two shops looking a lot nicer then please get in touch with us via the Wonford in Bloom facebook page or call Jenny on 07910 847 097.
Ludwell Life is running an event in Ludwell Park.
A Community Clean Up.
All Welcome to join in for as little or as long as you like.
Meet outside Swan Bungalow, Wonford
Wear Sturdy footwear, tough trousers, wet weather gear and gloves.
More details contact Lynn 07974 414 613
Planting Wildflowers and Refreshing a Copse
P.S. It’s Mother’s Day – bring mothers and cake!
Sunday March 25th 10.30-1.00pm
Contact Lynn for more details 07974 414613
Wonford has two of the four nominations in the Friendly Community Together Section of the Express and Echo Community Awards!
Wonford COGs brings together different community organisations and groups to find out what each is doing, to support each other and to work together. The Echo nomination said that ‘this group has developed a wonderful community atmosphere in the ward’
Phoenix Suite Project
Bernice Endicott, Sue Bulled and Helen Moore have worked tirelessly over the past 18 months to set up the Phoenix Suite and Community Hub in the empty Phoenix Youth Club building. The Echo nomination said ‘all have families and full-time jobs but this hasn’t deterred them from endless meetings, planning, organising and promoting.’
Good luck to both at the award ceremony on 25th November!
Wonford in Bloom, Exeter
South West in Bloom is supported by the Royal Horticultural Society and is one of eighteen regional/national competitions that make up Britain in Bloom, the biggest horticultural campaign in Europe. The aim of the communities that take part each year is to improve and regenerate local environments through landscaping, conservation and recycling projects.
Earlier this year I began volunteering with a local gardening group. When I joined we formally named ourselves ‘Wonford Planters’; Wonford being the area of Exeter in which we live; and I became the ‘Organiser’ of the group.
The estate where I live is partly social housing and partly owned. Cuts in public funding have resulted in areas of green spaces around the estate becoming overgrown and unsightly. Our aim is to bring the community together by gardening and improving these spaces for the benefit of Wonford residents. One of these areas is a mini-roundabout close to where I live. It had become extremely overgrown and overrun with brambles and nettles, generally not a nice space to look at but is one of the main routes for residents and dog-walkers from the estate to the valley fields below.
On the advice of our local Community Organiser, Sue, I contacted our local PCSO to enlist the help of the Exeter Community Police Cadets and on 2 April they came along to help begin the work.
That got us off to a good start and we continued throughout May and June, working towards our South West in Bloom entry for Wonford. The roundabout would be one part of the route through the estate, encompassing the local school, children’s nursery and sheltered housing. Our ‘pièce de résistance’ was a local resident whose garden comprised of a selection of magnificent cacti……
Alcoa Howmet is an American engineering company and we have a depot in Exeter. Sue had advised me that Alcoa will provide community funding upon evidence of a suitable event, which requires five Aloca employees to participate in a voluntary exercise relevant to the funding application. I organised the event on a Saturday in June and this consisted of persuading five local guys to leave the safety of the local pub and clear off a space of weedy ground outside our local shop. It was an extremely fun morning, and a lot of hard work for them. They did an amazing job.
Deed done, I duly completed the Silicon Valley Community Foundation application form and sent this off together with photos and a written statement. Being an American form it included having to agree to the ‘Compliance with Foreign Corrupt Practices Act’, and ‘Compliance with USA Patriot Act’! We were granted funds of just over £2,000.
Bloom Judging Day, 4 July
We’d worked as hard as we could to get the roundabout looking its best. The RHS judge was due at 2.30pm so the morning consisted of walking the judging route through the estate litter-picking on the way; including me jumping into the stream to retrieve a bike mudgard; poor Sue laughed so much she forgot to take a photo.
Our judge, Michael Foy. Such a lovely chap, it was a hot day and he’d already been dragged around the rest of Exeter. By the time he reached he us was nearly done for and clearly not up to walking the route along Ludwell Valley that we’d planned. We cheered him up with a chauffeur-driven (me) tour of the area accompanied by lots of fun and laughter, finishing off with a pint and sandwiches at The Dolphin in Burnthouse Lane. He thoroughly enjoyed himself.
SW in Bloom Awards Event, Taunton Cricket Club, 6 October 2016
My colleague Andy Richards and I, receiving the Silver award for the Wonford Village entry, presented to us by Lord Julian Fellowes.
Our ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ entry as Wonford Planters achieved an ‘Advancing’ status. Our second local group; Wonford TLC (Together Let’s Communicate) is a group from Devon Partnership Trust, which is a NHS organisation that works closely with other health and social care providers across Devon to support the recovery of people with mental health needs. The group started meeting to share their craft skills and support each other in Recovery. They achieved an ‘Improving’ status.