We have been back enjoying face to face events out and about in the Culm catchment. Here is a roundup of what has been going on during the first half of this year.

We have been popping up in various locations including, Hemyock repair café, Halberton Court Farm shop and Fordmore Farm Shop, giving us the opportunity to raise awareness about the project and let people know about how they can get involved.

We’ve also had the pleasure of visiting local community groups and coffee mornings allowing us to hear about people’s local experiences. Joy and Anne from Halberton History group kindly showed us the millpond in Halberton and shared a fascinating document about how the water was managed historically in the parish.

We had a range of maps and our latest modelling for people to comment on, different craft activities for families and part of the team from the Westcountry Rivers Trust were promoting volunteering opportunities – encouraging people to get involved and take action on their river. These opportunities include the Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations (CSI), the Culm Himalayan Balsam Action Group (HBAG), Riverfly monitoring, and Devon Biodiversity Records Centre (DBRC) plant surveys. Lots of people were keen to know how they could make a difference in their area and these volunteering opportunities are a great way of doing so. If you would like to volunteer then do get in contact here.

At the River Community Cafés West Country Rivers trust were also engaging people with Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), ways in which we can work with nature to restore natural processes in the river and slow the flow of water. These Nature-Based Solutions vary from wetland creation and leaky dams to green roofs and ponds. Solutions like these are being implemented in partnership with landowners across the catchment as part of the Connecting the Culm project. At the River Community Cafés we gave people the opportunity to learn more about different solutions with the help of our NBS dartboard and then asked people to call on their local knowledge of the area to help us find places where water needed slowing down, and together we thought of how Nature-Based Solutions could be used to do this. Not only on large areas of land, but also locally in and around people’s homes. If you would like to help slow the flow of water in the Culm catchment at home you could try creating a rain garden, use permeable paving on your driveway, or connect a water butt to your downpipe.

As we moved between different communities, we have been asking people to contribute to our River Reflections community art piece (see the image at the top of this article). We have asked individuals to create an image or pattern inspired by their local river and surrounding landscape on A5 pieces of paper. We’ve then cut the images into smaller triangles, mixed them up together and put them back together like a patchwork to create one large Culm catchment community art work. This process reflects how the water within in catchment runs off and mixes together within the river. It has been wonderful to see the artwork grow as we visit different communities. Please do come and contribute to it at any of our future events.

We have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work with Culmstock and Hemyock primary schools this term. It has been great to have the pupils contribute to the project and hear their ideas and aspirations for the future of the river. Both schools made an excellent contribution to the community art work. Hemyock school also generated ideas for creating Nature-Based Solutions for the catchment. Thank you to the schools for welcoming us in to share the project with you.

It has been a pleasure meeting and chatting with so many of you and always interesting to listen to your suggestions about the actions we can take and how to move forward with the project. We look forward to meeting lots more of you at our summer and autumn events.

Halberton Court Farm Shop stall
Halberton history group
People in a village hall talking and looking at information on a table.
People looking at some information on a stall
Hemyock primary school