Annual General Meeting of the Biddenham Gardeners Association on Tuesday 18th July 2023 at the Village Hall, Biddenham, Bedfordshire.
- The chairman, Paul Fricker, gave his report which is attached. The treasurer Charles Duchenne produced the accounts which had been passed by Bryan Cheyne, the Scrutineer. These accounts are also attached.
- Linda Truscott on behalf of the BGA committee presented Paul with the book “The Gardens of the National Trust” and thanked Paul for his hard work as chairman during the past 4 years, and also Kathy Fricker for the support she had given during that period. Kathy was presented with flowers from Linda’s garden. A bottle of sparkling wine was also given to Paul and Kathy.
- It was agreed by the AGM that Linda Truscott and Charles Duchenne should be the joint chairs of the Association, Linda remaining as membership secretary and Charles as treasurer. The other members of the committee would carry on in their previous positions. Chris Charlton had kindly agreed to join the committee (and subsequently agreed to become the secretary).
- The Biddenham Horticultural Society challenge cup was handed over to Linda Truscott by Paul Fricker.
- There then followed a talk about the Forest of Marston Vale by Jo Roberts, the Community Engagement officer of the Forest of Marston Vale, and Gilly Cowan.
- Jo Roberts remarked first of all that the history of forests goes back a long way and mentioned the cedars of Lebanon which were connected with Solomon. Marston Vale is a community forest. It would be possible to get contractors to plant saplings, but this was not the best way. Tens of thousands of trees had been planted, mostly by volunteers of which there were some five hundred. The community forest had been designated by the government to regenerate the area, and woodlands were the best way to do this. Marston Vale was probably one of the smallest of these forests. The area which needed regeneration had been occupied by brickworks. London Brick had produced 500 million bricks every year, and had left huge scars in the ground. The brick works had shut down early in this century and the land was being regenerated by Marston Vale forest which had an area of 65 square miles. New woods were being created next to ancient woodlands, such as Ampthill and Cranfield. Two million trees had now been planted on one hundred hectares of land. Oak tree, as an example, lasted more than 900 years. There could be 2500 different species on an oak tree. HMS Victory, in Portsmouth, had 6000 oak trees incorporated in her. Hornbeams were being planted instead of Ash trees because of the die back Ash trees were suffering. Hornbeam was used to make durable things like cart axles. It was hard to work. Other trees being planted were wild cherry, lime trees (tea can be made from lime flowers), silver birch, and field maple. Rowan trees were reputed at one time to protect people from witchcraft. Alder trees like to be in the wet. The government had realised that carbon capture is best done by trees. Forests attracted kingfisher birds, blue butterflies and otters. Hedges and trees were vital to prevent the disappearance of top soil.
Gilly Cowan said that as a volunteer she was involved in family fun days, wood processing (logs and firewood). Volunteers could be involved in administration work or reception work, butterfly surveys, there were considerable mental and physical benefits being a volunteer. Other activities were hay raking, tree planting, hedge laying, and management of vegetation also tree watering and bird watching. The necessary tools and equipment were provided. The website to look at was marstonvale.org/volunteer.
- The meeting ended with refreshments, an excellent spread of various cheeses with wine and other drinks provided.