Community Fund – Fundación Fauna de la Amazonía – September update

Greetings from Canton Mera, Pastaza Region, Ecuador, where the Fundación’s land is located, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the equator at the edge of the Llanganates National Park.

We were delighted to welcome two new volunteers to the land this month, Geni and Graham, who both had travelled a long way to help us carry stones, sand and rocks to continue the work on the new pathway! Wilson had joined us again, for a few days so with Pete’s help too, we managed to take the surfacing of the path a goodly distance onwards…………..

However, we did find time to show them round some of the more accessible parts of the land as well, and we also went on a short trek (or mini-canyoning adventure) up a nearby river until the ubiquitous rainstorm stopped play! Many thanks for your help and company.

On the way back down, we were able to spot, under the bridge and just before the waters of the river rose and washed them away, some Guatusa footprints and evidence of some of its more recent meals. The Guatusa (Dasyprocta fuliginosa) is a relatively common large rodent (about the size of a small dog) and we have often seen individuals crossing the road – usually in the late afternoon/early evening.

Another slightly smaller find this month was a young specimen of a Map Tree Frog (Hypsiboas geographica) unusually seen out in daytime. The youngster looks nothing like the adult form and so is often quite difficult to identify – well-spotted, Geni!

It did take our new visitors a little while to acclimatise to the night sounds……. the squeaks, croaks, chirps, night bird calls, occasional rustling sounds, which surround nearly always and which peak and trough according to the time of night, amount of cloud cover, the phase of the moon, humidity, rainfall, etc!

A few more plants were added to the edge of the pathway close to the river in order to help prevent erosion and there is some more work to be done on this yet.

Many birds, as ever, were seen and heard around and over the land- including hawks, kites, tanagers, oropendolos, pavas, the thrush-like wren, amongst others. The myriad of insects – including butterflies and grasshoppers, cicadas and katydids – continue to amaze. There is always something new to see………………

Community Fund – Rowanbank – September update

Rowanbank Environmental Arts & Education’s Summer Tour has taken us to Southern France, in search of some September sunshine and evergreen oak trees! We are now busy rehearsing our new show, and organising our exciting Autumn projects (more info on these will be coming soon).
Since we were last in touch our Magical Woodland Walk ‘creatures’ have continued to pop up in the trees with their trapezes, ropes, hula hoops, fiddles and golden tea pots, and have been delighting audiences with their unruly tea parties!!
We have travelled far and wide to reach the tallest (and smallest) of trees (and people), and have been celebrating the amazing apple harvest in Wales with the Woodland Trust; performing in Porthkerry Country Park;  performing with the Playtopia crew at Shambala Festival and premiering our new show at at the Just So Festival. We’ve also visited the inspiring National Communities Resource Centre (Trafford Hall) and the Green Britain Centre (Ecotricity); and last but not least, we have facilitated two creative learning projects for the Galloper off-shore wind farm and Goole II on-shore wind farm (with Innogy Renewables UK).
Follow our footsteps on Facebook, and if you like what we do, please let us know. Also do let us know if you would like us to visit your woodland, tree, festival or beach as part of our 2018 tour.

Community Fund – The Yard – August update

With summer holidays coming to an end, The Yard in Edinburgh was closed in August for essential maintenance for ten days. This gave us a chance to refresh the indoor and outdoor play area and we managed to upgrade our popular bedswing, solardome and sensory room.

Before we closed for maintenance, we celebrated International Playday by holding our very own Hayday, Playday. Our playteam pulled out all the stops to decorate the place with hay bales, wooden horses and cardboard cut outs that made it seem like The Yard had been transported to the Wild West. Our senior playworker Ivan set up a big Teepee structure in the garden. It was a lovely day, and the hay created an amazing play experience for all the children who enjoyed crawling through it, ripping it up or chucking it on each other! We had so much hay we were still playing with it a week later before we called Gorgie Farm who came to take the remaining hay away. It was a great day, and it inspired our playteam to plan lots of fun play sessions for September and October!

Community Fund – Garden Gate Project – August update

We have had a bumper crop of tomatoes this year, all sorts and all shapes and sizes… Fabulous!
We have also been enjoying a lovely summer that is sadly coming to an end…
August saw some of our guys complete their ‘Recovery through Activity’ course.  This course is devised to encourage people who have been suffering with mental ill health to re-discover and appreciate the benefits of various activities and find one that suits them.
Our photography course continues with Jason Evans, the seasons flowers against printed back drops are creating some great images for our exhibition at the end of the year.
We hosted our AGM this month and presented to our members all the good things that have been happening at the garden this year… we are looking forward to another great year.

Community Fund – Broomhouse Health Strategy Group- August

We have completed our summer programme with the fantastic ‘Street party’ on the 11th August.

The day was full of variety. Several local projects came together to provide the venues and activities – Broomhouse Health Strategy Group, The Broomhouse Centre, The Big Project, St David’s Church and The Big Project There were over 200 local people at the event, with many volunteers who made the day possible. We had fun with food with an outdoor BBQ and indoors preparing fresh fruit faces and fruit kebabs and some tasty cooking. There were lots of entertainments on the stage with our local DJ, live bands and Big Project Choir, Book Bug singing with the younger children. There was a taster session for our new Dance Aerobics group. Stalls from interesting health and wellbeing groups and charities. We also continued our ‘Community Chat’ with Napier University supporting a local community survey.. Out of doors there was a bouncy castle and the Fire Services brought their Fire Engine and Fire Officers to offer for the families safety advice and families see and sit inside the Engine. We were pleased to be able to offer all the activities free for the community .

Other August activities included the end of the ‘Summer Programme’ activities. Our older adults had a very enjoyable trip on public transport  to the City Art Centre ‘A-Z’ Exhibition. We had a nice tour from the staff, which added to the experience. There was great fun at with some ‘Family Outdoor Exercise’ and we got some sunshine.

There was fun bus outing to Craigie’s Farm for families. That was very popular with everyone having an opportunity to pick fresh strawberries, raspberries and cherries.

The month ended with us getting started with some of our regular Autumn activities., Chair Exercise and Walking Group and preparation underway for September’s new ‘Adult Cooking’ sessions and ‘Dance/Aerobics’

Community Fund – Scottish Beekeepers Association – August

With the holiday season in full swing, August was a quieter month for us and visits. However, around 30,000 visitors attended The Black Isle Show, near Muir of Ord on the 3rd of August. Dingwall and District Beekeepers and their live honeybees were a fantastic draw, whether old or young everyone was delighted to meet the queen!

Dingwall Beekeepers, Live Honeybees and The Queen!

We then hosted our Scottish National Honey Show at the Flower and Food Festival in Dundee. We were delighted to see so many entrants into the competition classes, and over the moon when we received hundreds of posters from the Primary 4 to Primary 7 pupils of Eastern Primary School in Dundee. Boy did they brighten up our tent! It was wonderful to see pupils winning first, second and third prizes! A big thank you to everyone who entered and a special thanks to Rhona and Hilary for organising all these posters!

Scottish National Honey Show & Eastern Primary Poster

It’s back to school with a bang for us in September and we can’t wait to meet many new bee friends across Scotland.

COCA August Update

August: Our busiest month yet!

In spite of struggling with cabbage white butterfly, turnip sawfly caterpillars, aphids and slugs we have been able to harvest potatoes, carrots, beetroots, onions, two varieties of cabbage, three varieties of kale, two varieties of turnips, radishes, lettuce, chard, courgettes, four varieties of tomatoes, cucumbers, French beans and runner beans for our weekly organic veg boxes.

It’s been an incredibly busy month, and in addition to the usual tasks revolving around growing the vegetables (sowing, transplanting, weeding, harvesting, watering, trimming) preparations for the annual Harvest Party, a key fundraiser for COCA and Caerhys Farm, were in full swing.

Luckily, our German EVS volunteer received reinforcement from WWOOFers and five international helpers who joined us for almost three weeks as part of the UNA Workcamp scheme. The volunteers from Denmark, Germany, France, Spain, Russia, and Japan helped with the preparations for the Harvest Party including transforming the farm into a festival-worthy space, ensuring a smooth running of the event, and helping to clean up after the festival. Katya, one of our Workcamp volunteers, sums up her experience: “To tell the truth, I spent an amazing time with wonderful people, not only at the farm, but in St Davids, too. I met a lot of guys from different countries, explored farm life and beautiful sights of Wales. Some things like harvesting beans or weeding seemed daily routine for me, but I had a great time, especially during the Harvest Party”.

Despite the fact that especially Saturday saw less visitors than last year, it was a weekend filled with fun, food, music, dance, games, talks, and theatre. Highlight of the weekend? For Silvia from Spain it was her new found love for Cider, for others it was dancing to Fiddelbox’s Ceildhi on Friday night.

An enormous thank you to everyone who helped out before, during and after the Harvest Party. Without your dedication and hard work this fantastic event would not have been possible!

Howdenclough Cooperative Farm

Well the end of our ‘Summer’ is here, it’s a shame we didn’t get much of one this year. It’s safe to say, Winter is coming and we are finding signs of it everywhere: holly bushes are sprouting little red berries, the conquers have begun to fall from the trees and our surrounding area is filled with juicy blackberries! Autumn is setting in.

Despite the poor summer, we had, this has not had an adverse affect on the vegetables, which have been growing in our poly tunnel. With it been our first year using it, we went a little over the top with the amount of cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn; they seem to have taken over the entire poly tunnel, however, the vegetables we have produced is absolutely delicious. With the help of the Children, our new baby Ducks had such a wonderful start in life  and have continued to flourish over the 6 week holidays they are now 4 month old and we can not believe how quickly they have grown. Over the summer months, we have let some of them go to new owners, who live in the local area , and many of our ducklings are now well-loved pets living in there new homes . One of our local pubs even give them the “rule of the roost” in there wonderful beer garden  and apparently, they are doing an excellent job of attracting customers.

Now the school holidays have come to an end and the pupils have returned the animals are filled with a new found curiosity as thy watch the children during there break times and vice versa On another note we have purchased new, petrol lawn- mower thanks to you continued support. This will make life a lot easier when tending the land!

Community Fund – Fundación Fauna de la Amazonía – July update

We always love hearing from our Community Fund recipients, Flor de la Amazonia. To date they’ve been with us since 2012 and they are one of our longest standing members. They’re committed to protecting the beautiful and endangered Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador and at present they are in the process of expanding from conservation to build an animal rehabilitation centre. Below is their latest update :

It has been much hotter and a bit drier around the land this month. However, thanks to the water storage tanks on-site, we have not run out of water for a while. Sometimes in August, when the rivers and streams run much lower for a time (usually just a few days, but sometimes a week or two) we have to be more careful regarding how much we are using.

Recently, Omar Tello, the Vice-President of the Fundación, spent some time on the land and brought with him some endemic trees and other plants, as well as some seeds to be planted up, and some volunteers to help while he was there. Omar is the driving force behind “Jardín Botánico Las Orquídeas” in Los Angeles, Pastaza, and has been a long-term supporter of our conservation activities and our plans to develop the animal rescue centre. See….

Pete has been continuing to develop his own project on his land close to ours and he has also been carrying out basic maintenance and keeping an eye on the Fundación‘s land while we have been a little lower on numbers.


One of our other neighbours has recently seen evidence of tapirs close to their habitations. Tapirs are large mammals related to horses and zebras and are listed as an endangered species due to habitat loss and fragmentation, and hunting. It is the largest mammal in the tropical Andes and is vegetarian. It is estimated that there may only be 2500 mature individuals remaining in the wild in South America and their numbers continue to decline.

Unfortunately, another of our neighbours has been seen carrying firearms for ‘protection’ as he had seen evidence of large cat (probably ocelot) footprints on his land. Usually such cats tend to avoid being near people and rarely, if ever, attack. Again, reduction of habitat, increasing use of land for farming and the results of global warming are all having an effect on where endangered animals may live and roam. Hopefully he is not going to be shooting ocelots and tapirs! People are becoming more aware of their ‘at risk’ status and are a little less likely to be killing them…………………..

We are delighted to include some photographs, this month, from some of our recent visitors to the land: Andreas Kay, Danilo Medina, and Pete (Peter Archer). Many thanks to them for allowing us to use their photos. These photos and others on their various sites give a small glimpse of the huge variety of different flora and fauna around the land and within Ecuador.

Samaritan’s Purse & Snowdrop fundraiser

The event was a fundraising fete held at the local church, raising money for two charities, Samaritan’s Purse (International Aid) and Snowdrop Project (helping victims of human trafficking in Sheffield). We raised several hundred pounds which will be divided between the charities (unsure of final total just yet). We had a very busy day and it was lovely to meet more of the local community too.