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The community project designed to put Brixham Road Open Space of South Bristol on the map is getting closer to completion. The maze, which will feature 232 berry plants, ranging from blackberries to jostaberries, is now a real 3D maze, not just a nice map and it’s awaiting planting.
September has been an extraordinarily busy month, with volunteers working at the maze every Saturday and even some Tuesdays in between. As with every project of this size, the surprises came one after the other (and most of them were not pleasant). After the initial shock of finding a real tip underneath the weeds, which had to be cleared before the Open Doors Day event (how lucky that Good Gym was around to save the day!), volunteersgot down to the unending task of digging. And they dug… and dug… and dug: shoes, wellies, cassettes, car radios, bricks, knives, forks, cables. As one of the volunteers, Anna, put it: “Anyone thinking of building their own car should apply - we found nearly all the bits you need!”.
Meanwhile, the tasks planned beforehand still had to go ahead, so some visible progress could be made: mulch had to be layed on the paths, wooden posts had to be driven down to their place (and they were, thanks to the equipment lent to the project by the National Tool Hire local branch) , planters had to be built and wires set up. The volunteers worked bravely through the most challenging situations (even in the pouring rain), most of the time accompanied by the phenomenal runners from Good Gym. Raluca, the project manager, recalls: “Nearly every weekend the Good Gym came to our rescue – they came for one hour at a time and were given the most difficult tasks, but they’ve done brilliantly! One of the children saw them coming and said ’Here come the superheros!’. I really don’t think he was far off from the truth.”
Superheros were also the handful of dedicated volunteers who have been working hours and hours at a time, week after week, sometimes making painfully slow progress. “We are amazingly grateful to have some fantastically dedicated people who volunteer with us: Jackie Smith, Germinal Magro, Barney Smith, Davina Blake, Ben Brooks, Patrick Rainey (and his delightful little boy Tom, who even shared his birthday cake with us) and more recently Duncan Butler with his family, have been attending our work sessions almost every week and worked extremely hard. Others, like Emma Lashwood and Gavin Spittlehouse, have come only on one of the sessions but worked extremely hard and made such a huge difference. There are others who have worked really hard and it’s difficult not to mention them all, but we would run out of space. We are planning, however, to make a banner at the end, thanking and naming all the wonderful people who have made a difference to this project and also all the businesses who helped us, be it via in kind donations or help with delivering the maze.”
October started with more working sessions, in an attempt to finish everything before the planting – which will take place on the 18th of November. On the 14th of October, local artist Ollie Gillard, aka Gage Graphics, painted on the centre of the slab initial maze map - the winning picture made by 9 years old Harry Ward from Parson Street School. He was joined by Harry himself and a few volunteers and the result is fantastic. With most of the preparatory work now ready, November will be the month when the whole project comes together. And what better way to crown this project than having a very special guest? ”We are very lucky to announce that Karin Smyth MP, our local representative in the Parliament, managed to find some time in her very busy schedule to come round and show her support for this initiative. It will be wonderful to meet her and exchange ideas about how the berry maze can help our area and increase the people sense of ownership of this park.”
If you want to join the project for the big planting event, the volunteers will be in Brixham Road Open Space, just between Parson Street and Marksbury Road, between 9 and 16, on the 18th of November, to plant over 230 berry plants in one go and cover the beddings with mulch, in what is set to become a record on its own.