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Wessex Water environment grants help reduce food waste, enhance wildlife and restore rivers

A partnership between Wiltshire Community Foundation and Wessex Water has resulted in more than £19,000 worth of funding for 15 projects aimed at improving the environment in communities across the county.

The Wessex Water Environment Fund was launched with the community foundation by The Wessex Water Foundation, a multi-million-pound initiative launched in June 2020 to provide a dedicated funding stream for projects across the region.

Among the recipients of the grants is funded is £1,500 to Pewsey Parish Council and Pewsey Avon River Restoration to restore native plants to the chalk stream running through the village.

Community planting will help restore its biodiversity and create food and habitats for fish, mammals and birds.

PARR committee member Stuart Murray said the grant will make a huge difference to the group and to the centre of Pewsey.

“By `greening` a space in an urban setting and bringing nature into the heart of the village we can enable everyone to connect with nature, which will especially benefit those in our community who are less able to access the surrounding countryside,” he said.

“A community planting event will provide an excellent opportunity for people to engage with and learn about their river.”

Youth charity Rise:61 in Salisbury will use its £1,500 grant to create a sensory garden and composting area at the community garden its volunteers have reclaimed from bramble-strewn waste ground at the Bemerton Heath housing estate.

Chairman Robin Imeson said: “We have cleared a large area and created a community garden with a gazebo, log cabin and a small woodland trail.

“The idea for the sensory garden came from two local mums and volunteers as we’re all aware of a number of SEND children living nearby, many of whom find it difficult to leave the house.”

He said the composting bins will allow the group to teach its young members, as well as parents, how to compost and why it is important. This improvement will change the quality of the soil on the site for the future,” he said.

Sustainable Sherston has been awarded £1,000 to buy juicing equipment to press and bottle apple juice from local gardens as part of the village’s annual Apple Day. The event is aimed at reducing food waste and encouraging fruit growing.

Group chairman Hannah Griffin said it has planted a community orchard in the village during lockdown and in response to that, and comments about unwanted apples going to waste, launched the Apple Day last autumn.

“We had a really good response and carted all of the apples to Hungerford to be juiced and bottled. It was quite a lot of travelling but it was a good trial run and we produced 700 75cl bottles,” she said.

“The guides went out picking apples because some of the people who have trees are elderly and a farmer brought us a trailer-load.”

The group will buy its own juicer and pasteurising kit, plus a smaller demonstration juicer for children to use at the Apple Day. The bottles will be sold locally to cover costs and raise funds for the group.

“The grant will make a big difference because we can make this investment and hopefully the event will become a tradition. It is really nice to see the different generations coming together and we are dealing with the food waste issue while saving a lot of food miles and creating a lovely product.”

Friends of the Marden Valley will use a £1,500 grant to carry out a water vole study and plant trees to help reduce weeds that are choking part of the Abberd Brook in Calne.

Treasurer Andrew Jones said: “The canopy of trees will help to reduce the temperature and the direct sunlight along this stretch of brook which is likely to reduce the volume of reeds that choke the channel.” He said they would also provide food and shelter for insects and mammals and that the cooling effect on the brook will enhance the fish population.

Kirsty Scarlett, Wessex Water’s head of community engagement, said: “We are pleased to support these wonderful projects and we are looking forward to seeing how they help to transform communities and raise peoples’ appreciation of the local environment.

“We are delighted to be working once again with Wiltshire Community Foundation and independent community panel members to help us in the decision making process, including representation from Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and environmental experts.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver added: “We are thankful once again to Wessex Water for putting its faith in our ability to deliver these grants.

“We are proud that our expertise and local knowledge is bringing this money into the county and making such a huge difference to these brilliant projects.”

Pictured: Rise: 61 chairman Robin Imeson, left, and trustee Andy Malcolm at the community garden in Bemerton Heath in Salisbury