Community campaign secures wildlife meadow at Starston, near Harleston
A wildlife haven at the centre of south Norfolk village has been secured for future generations after the community rallied round to buy it.
Starston, near Harleston - one of Norfolk's smallest villages - demonstrated its big community spirit by raising �22,000 in the space of a year to purchase the two acre site.
More than half of the households in the 120 home village made a contribution to a more than �10,000 fundraising campaign, which was followed by a �3,500 community conservation grant from Norfolk County Council and �4,250 from South Norfolk Council's Waveney Valley neighbourhood board.
Work has now begun to improve and enhance the green space for everyone to enjoy after the privately owned meadow was bought for the community.
The project will also see the planting of 24 Norfolk fruit trees including apple, pear, cherry and quince to create a community orchard and an oak tree sapling has been donated by the Woodland Trust in honour of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The meadow, which is bordered on one side by the Starston Beck that feeds into the River Waveney, is already visited by a host of wildlife including kingfishers, otters, egrets, and barn owls. The project was led by a sub-committee of the Starston Jubilee Hall and was boosted by a variety of fundraising activities and generous donations from local residents.
Peter Grimble, a member of the Starston meadow management group, said: 'The Starston parish plan in 2008 identified the wish for somewhere central in the village for people to meet and make the heart of the village and this came on the market in the last year.'
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'We believed it could be done and people have been only too happy to help. It is a beautiful place for people to come and enjoy the natural environment.'
Volunteers have been working to clear timber from the thinning out of trees around the site for the last few weeks and families are being invited to come and help with the planting of the community orchard on the weekend of February 18 and 19.
The project will also see the introduction of a new footbridge across the beck, new benches and the planting of new hedging to enclose the meadow.
Michael Bartlett, chairman of the meadow group, added: 'This is a real community project. So many people in the village have given time, expertise, enthusiasm, and money to make it possible.'