Seeing Creation – Hathersage Parish Church, Sun/Mon 1st-2nd May 2022.
The Land Group of HVCA was just one of a host of different groups setting out their stalls in the Parish Church on the bank holiday weekend to celebrate “Creation” in a variety of ways. Most of the exhibits were artistic in one way or another: exquisite needlework, woodcarving, photography, paintings, and of course the children’s decoration of paper plates strung above us across the aisle.
Ours, inevitably, was rather different. I think initially the church authorities may have had some doubts about the wisdom of inviting us as we trundled from the car park to the church porch with armfuls of containers filled with soil, water and plants. These were not the sorts of elegant, cultivated blooms usually found adorning the area we had been allocated just below the pulpit, and there was obviously potential for a messy disaster. However, everyone was very tolerant and we proceeded to set up our display using photographs of the surrounding moorland, meadows, road verges etc., as well as specimens of some of the common wild flowers such as Jack-by-the-hedge and bluebells. We had trays of turf, allowed to “do its own thing” without any chemical interference and full of a whole variety of plants, just to show what lawns could look like. Possibly the most exciting of our specimens was a small tank of tadpoles which of course fascinated the children but also took many of us back to our own childhoods.
During the two days we talked to a steady stream of interesting people, some of them local but others who just happened to be in Hathersage for the weekend. We tried to show them how we are changing the management of road verges in Hathersage to see if we can increase the numbers and variety of wild flowers and thus the numbers and variety of insects. We talked about the work on the moorland to reverse the damage done to the peat through drying it out and showed them some peat and demonstrated the water-holding capacity of sphagnum moss. We talked about planting trees, and showed them photos of wild flowers and birds. Some of the youngsters didn’t seem able to recognise dandelions or bluebells. They need to get out more!
Although most rewarding, talking to people over a couple of days is remarkably tiring; but it was definitely worth it. As well as learning a lot from some of the folk we met, I hope we encouraged others to think a bit harder about the natural world and what we are doing to it. Several people took information about Hope Valley Climate Action and perhaps they will follow that up by looking at the website to find out more.
Heartfelt thanks to the “Hospitality” team in the church who kept us fed and watered.