The land is currently owned by the County Council and has been farmed by a tenant until recently. The policy of the CC is to sell off land when it becomes vacant and they planned to do this but the Parish Council, having been refused their request to have the land transferred to them as a community asset, have now obtained a right to bid and the CC has agreed to a price of 60K, to be raised in a limited time. The Trust has been set up under the auspices of the PC and it is in the process of becoming a charitable incorporated organisation.
The first aim of the trust is to secure the land by raising the 60K. We are currently applying for grants and advertising the project as widely as possible to encourage donations. In February we held a "Teas for Trees" event in the Old School Room in Curry Rivel. Despite atrocious weather around 40 people turned up to chat, drink tea and listen to a presentation about the need for more trees to combat climate change and specifically why this land is of great importance to the village, as outlined below. At the end of the event the total raised as donations, pledges and interest-free loans stood at £24,912. Since then we have received a grant from the Fairfield Trust of £15,000 and a further potential loan of £10,000. This makes us very well on the way to achieving the required amount by the deadline - but some further help would be very much appreciated!
The land includes a considerable amount of heritage woodland that forms part of a continuous band of woodland across a ridge of land which has Somerset Levels below on both sides. The village of Curry Rivel is on the south side and parts of it, including the school, have been flooded twice by run off from the ridge in the last decade. Maintaining the woodland and adding to it by planting more trees, the second aim, will slow down water run-off and capture more carbon, both now universal aims in our fight against climate change. Thirdly we aim to involve the local community and the wider public in tree planting and seeding a wildflower meadow in the area that is not woodland and plan to reinstate the disused footpath across the site, with explanatory boards about the flora and fauna to be seen . We hope to involve the local school and youth groups in these activities and also to have some picnic tables near the path to encourage families to visit.