Welcome to the SRT blog No. 37

22nd January 2021 – Welcome to our blog post No. 37

It’s the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch next weekend – January 29th > 31st and we thought it would be fun to take part this year.

Northchurch will be setting up bird watching spots around the site and carrying out their counts, taking photos and making notes and we would love you to do the same and send us photos and your bird counts to publicity@sunnysideruraltrust.org.uk

So to get started why not sign up to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch, if you haven’t already done so. Here’s the link. https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/  . Signing up is easy and there are things to do on their website, including a quiz, as well as great ideas on their face book page. #BigGardenBirdWatch  including how to make other bird feeders easily.

You can do the count online or request a pack to be sent to you, but be quick so that it reaches you in time. And to help attract the birds to your garden we have put together a bird feeding kit which you will receive next week. Sam helped to find some of the pine cones with Matt.






Enjoy an hour with nature and discover the wildlife on your doorstep. Taking part is easy, there is a quiz on the website & do take photos. Here are links to other great websites to help you get the most out of watching the birds around you.




Have fun and do let us know how you get on. A few ideas that you could send us:

  1. Photos of the birds at your pine cone feeder
  2. Photos of birds in your garden
  3. Your bird counts
  4. Your colouring in
  5. You making your bird feeder


The Activity Centre Team have been busy continuing work on the new project in the Fruit Area. Everyone has worked really hard, staying cheerful despite the weather. Areas of ground have been levelled, old willow beds dismantled and new ones filled with compost ready for planting.






Here you can see Noreen, Becca and Aisha potting up strawberry plants before taking apart the bed and transporting the compost to a freshly made new one (using Hazel and Willow grown and coppiced at Sunnyside).






Monday was a busy day, with Noreen and Mark joining Ian and Suvi on a litter pick around Bovingdon before visiting Hemel Food Garden to drop off some Sunnyside made jams and chutneys for the shop, and pick up a delivery of empty jam jars so that we can make some more!






The Northchurch team also delivered a crateful of brightly coloured chillies for us, so Roxie and Louise have been busy making River Cottage Chilli jam – delicious!  There are also plans to try making chilli chocolate over the next few weeks. Watch this space …





On Wednesday Ellen, Mark and Michael H measured out 1m spacing for 100 lavender plants that will be arriving soon and planted in the orchard area near the beehives.  The plants will line the main pathway through the orchard, and as well as providing colour, scent and nectar for the bees, once they are established, they should also provide a harvest of lavender that can used to make products and sold in the Sunnyside shops.

Smiling in the rain at the beginning of the measuring out…

… and still smiling at the end after a job well done in the wind and rain!

Thursday morning Noreen, Mark, Ian and Suvi delivered some packs to trainees that are staying at home at the moment. In the afternoon the same team made some pickled chillies – they should be appearing in the Sunnyside shops soon! The rest of the team were busy working on the new project in the fruit area, which is progressing nicely.







Another productive week at the Activity Centre!


Back to the bird theme, your Sunnyside Up farm shop has put together a great display of selection of different bird feeds and bird boxes all available to buy now.









There are winter doorstep pots already planted up for just £10 at Hemel Food Garden. You will also find winter bedding plants, hanging baskets, hellebores, perennials and indoor plants, available as well as essential food items from the farm shop. Open Mon to Sat 10 > 3pm.

Both our shops now have pre packed 200gm bags of onions – Stuttgarter Giant White onions, Red Barron and Red Sun red salad onions, and Golden Gourmet  shallot/escallion type onions, plus garlic all ready to start planting and get growing. They also have Arran Pilot 1st early, Cara and Desiree main crop pre- packed Scottish seed potatoes in 2kg bags ready for chitting now.

Next week is the Scottish Burns Night and Hemel Food Garden are getting ready to take part ( not sure we have many true Scotts but it’s the taking part that counts). There will be a Scottish & fun theme to some of the activities through the week including welly wanging, music and bunting is being made to go up. Plus of course a taste of haggis, a crumbly sausage, with a coarse oatty texture and a warming peppery flavour






Burns night – is a festival to celebrate Scotland’s most famous poet – a man called Robert Burns. … He was born on 25 January 1759 in a village called Alloway in Scotland and is always celebrated on this night. The festivities include someone reciting the  Burns poem ‘Address To A Haggis’, eating haggis, neeps and tatties and a drinking a wee dram – or, in other words, turnips, potatoes and whiskey.


Work progresses at the new pond which is now full of water and settling well. The next jobs will involve fencing and gates to protect the space and then the creative bit – the planting later in the year.

The relative warmth of the bubble house has allowed for the horti team to get some early seeds sown and the young plants are doing well – salad leaves and perennial kale.

The old buildings at Northchurch are now being looked at again and are being re-purposed to help make some jobs a bit more efficient and in a bigger space. The old shop is designated to now become the new veg prep area. 2 sinks have added and the plumbing will take place over the next few weeks. And then the much used but now unloved old mess room is going to become a ‘super-dooper’ dedicated workshop, with new electrics, shelves and racking. A big re-vamp.





But the normal work goes on, come rain or shine – the outside contract at Northchurch Recreation ground is tended to by Jim Kenyon.







As we are in lock down again and some of you are not going to the sites at the moment, staying at home it would be great to see some photos of what you are up to as well. Just e mail to me – Dawn at publicity@sunnysideruraltrust.org.uk and we’ll include them over the next few weeks. Look forward to seeing them