Sixteen Sky employees took a day away from running TV cables yesterday (October 8) to instead help with the creation of a wildflower meadow with heritage fruit trees on land between Palm Bay and Botany Bay .
The team started on the green space at the Sandhurst end of Knockholt Road at 830am and, joined by 15 local volunteers, they spent the entire day scarifying, raking, digging, planting and pruning.
More than 50 kg of mixed bulbs were planted which will add colour from next Spring for residents walking from the Palm Bay estate to Botany Bay. The heritage fruit trees were sourced from Brogdale Nurseries. It’s hoped to have 16 different varieties of apples, pears and even mandarins within a few years. The team also planted a number of thornless soft fruit bushes.
Barry Manners, from Friends of Botany Bay CIC, coordinated the event.
He said he was overjoyed at the response from the community, adding: ” Without the help from the team at Sky we could not have made anything like the progress and eventual transformation we can now look forward to.”
The project has so far cost approximately £2500, raised partly from a community GoFundMe page.
Barry said: “Kent County Council has promised funding and hopefully it is on its way. Meanwhile we have been grateful for the help of Southern Water and local donors who made it financially possible.
“The community response to the meadow has been overwhelming. I’d like to thank East Kent Hire who jumped at the opportunity to help. Also Young’s Nurseries and Brogdale’s expertise has been invaluable. We were also fortunate to have input from volunteers at the Kent Wildlife Trust in the planning stages.”
Three kilos of native wild flower seeds were sown by the team at the end of the day – watered in by neighbours who allowed use of their garden hoses and were still out at dusk to help ensure the seeds get a great start in life.
The land is owned by Thanet District Council.
Barry said: “The officers have been supportive throughout. It was great to have their dedicated Tree Officer on site to help and guide us.”
The project was the idea of Palm Bay resident Scott Manclark who is also a co-director of Friends of Botany Bay CIC. He enlisted the enthusiasm of district councillor Cedric Towning, who has helped with a number of community led initiatives to improve Cliftonville.
Together with Peter Blem, of Thanet Biodiversity, they put a plan together in April this year to transform this otherwise neglected open space.
Scott said: “We are hopeful that nature will now take its course so within a year or two we have a valuable community asset where kids can discover the beauty and diversity of our local ecology.”