Welcome to Newham Green Gym, the East Ham Nature Reserve Conservation Volunteers
Please note that Green Gym will not be meeting until further notice. In the meantime, stay well and come and join us when the difficult times are over.
The nature reserve is open every day, so please visit. Please don’t pick any flowers. The bees and butterflies need them much more than you do.
There are lots of articles now encouraging people to forage for food. It is OK on a very small scale, but if too many people take too much it destroys the habitats, so our plants and animals cannot survive. Here are the rules:
- Only take a small quantity, maximum 150g – think a small bag of salad at the supermarket.
- Use a sharp tool so you don’t accidentally pull out the roots. You must not dig up plants.
- Don’t pick in one place. Take a leaf here and a leaf there.
- Leave no trace. Don’t trample any plants, and don’t disturb wildlife. Ensure areas don’t look damaged.
- Only pick from where there are lots of plants. If you see bald patches, do not pick there. Collect from more than one spot, and away from footpath edges (it looks bad, and think dog wee…).
If you are ever not 100% sure of what you are picking, please do not forage it. We wouldn’t want you to accidentally poison yourself.
If sweaty gyms are not for you, why not join our friendly group to exercise in the open air, giving nature a helping hand at the same time? We work to maintain the diversity of habitats at the nature reserve. We do a variety of tasks from digging out brambles to planting wildflowers and clearing ivy from gravestones and paths. We also do more specialised tasks like hedge laying, coppicing and scything. There is something suitable for everyone and you can work at your own pace.
Last winter we cleared some areas of woodland and meadow so that we could plant wild flower seeds in the open ground. You may have been out in woods and seen cut back trees and wondered why – at first glance it doesn’t look a lot like conservation! This is called coppicing, and it is a very important conservation practice. Coppicing is only carried out in winter as the trees are dormant and there are no birds’ nests that may be disturbed. We have coppiced hazel trees, which have grown too big. By cutting them near the ground we can get them to grow as straight poles, which we use for woven fences.
Come and meet some of the inhabitants of the nature reserve. Our slow worms and common lizards are now hiding for the winter, but will be back when the warm weather starts. You may notice squares of roofing felt around. These are refugia for slow worms. If you lift them you may find slow worms underneath, but make sure you put them back in exactly the same place. If you look under logs there are plenty of minibeasts like wood lice, slugs and snails to find.
The cherry plum and blackthorn trees are covered in blossom. We hope they will carry a good crop of plums and sloes later. The daffodils are flowering and wild garlic is starting to appear. Brighter green leaves will become bluebells later on. Ferny leaves of cow parsley, also know as Queen Anne’s Lace, are starting to push up. They will be over a metre tall when they flower in May.
Here is a list of animals and plants featured in our old newsletters Animals and plants
We have a commissioned art work, a willow circle near the bridge. Other works have been added by members of the public and Green Gym members.
The idea is that the works will gradually decay, becoming habitats and food for animals and plants, which will themselves decay. It illustrates the cycle of life that is essential to existence. Come and see what you think.
Our address is East Ham Nature Reserve, Norman Road, London E6 6HN.
We meet every Wednesday 10am-1pm. Even if you don’t want to work, come along at 11.30am for hot drinks, biscuits and chat. We make a small contribution of £1, or whatever you can afford, to cover our costs.
If you would like to join our group, just turn up wearing suitable clothes and shoes (there are a lot of brambles and stinging nettles on the site). We provide gloves and tools.
Please note that, as all our tasks involve using sharp tools, we cannot take responsibility for under 18s. Children are welcome, but must be supervised at all times by a responsible adult.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone Frances 078 4597 3156
We are an independent community group, which is a member of the TCV Community
Network, but is not run by TCV leaders.
There is a second Newham Green Gym, which is the Greenway Orchard Project, run by trained TCV leaders. They focus particularly on mental health issues. For information go to http://www.tcv.org.uk/london/green-gym-london/newham-green-gym