Author Archives: Andrew King

New Project; New Help!

Due to the sterling efforts of our Chairman, there is a new initiative to improve our Field and with lots of extra help …… The Lancashire Youth Challenge team ( have agreed to help us and they will be working with our volunteers over the next few months. 

What’s the project? you may well ask.

The aim is to improve the ground at the bottom of the Field where the conditions are both acidic and wet, and hence not suitable for the fruit trees we are trying to grow down there.

The work will involve digging trenches … like this……


Yes, it looks like a miniature version of a 1st World War trench, but it’s perfect for holding the magic ingredient, which is crushed limestone.



It looks a lot neater when it’s full:



The limestone improves drainage and ‘sweetens’ the soil, making the conditions much more suitable for fruit trees.

Plant nutrients will also be added.


The limestone arrives in bags. A ton was delivered to the Field initially and as you can see from the picture above, some of this has already been used. A second ton has now been delivered and three of our volunteers are seen here congratulating themselves on their efforts……. though it doesn’t look very stable!! 

If you would like to be part of this major project and to work with the Lancashire Youth Volunteers then simply get in touch… (… and you will be kept informed of what’s happening and when. It would be really good for us to be able to match the effort being brought in from outside to help us.

Don’t Delay; Volunteer Today!


Your Field needs YOU!

We usually like to organise work parties when there’s a project on the Field. It’s sociable and productive but it does take a lot of organising and the day and time doesn’t suit everyone. Besides, we cannot control the weather on the chosen day, though Chairman Paul has a strong track record of delivering sunshine!

However everything is growing very rapidly and there are many jobs that need doing, so we cannot leave it to young Jack, willing & enthusiastic though he is:

What we now need is people who are reasonably fit and healthy and happy to work on their own, or with a friend, at a time that suits them. Does that sound like you?

The ideal area for work would be the new orchard area at the bottom of the Field. It’s a bit damp down there, so work involves digging sumps to collect water, adding limestone to neutralise some of the acidity, digging up bramble roots to stop them taking over, planting wild flowers such as Flag Iris (see above) and general weeding. All fairly tough jobs but our volunteers have proved on many occasions that they are well up to it. (In fact there have been suggestions that women often lead the way on tough tasks …….we couldn’t possibly comment!) 

Anyone who has a few hours to spare and would like to help should simply send a note to the FMWF email account. (The address is at the bottom of the Home page.)

People often say they would like to help but they aren’t sure about what to do, or they don’t have any tools. Do not worry………..Ben, who is one of our volunteers, is leading on this project. He will arrange to meet you on site and brief you on exactly what needs to be done. He will also be able to answer any questions you may have, so don’t be shy. 

Thank You.

PS This probably isn’t one for the kids, but they can still enjoy themselves while you work – and hopefully not get in the way too much. Jack here has only recently moved into the area and absolutely loves having the Field to explore and play in.





OK, OK,  Don’t get excited. We are talking about birds here, not a certain female singer. Sorry!

Anyone who lives in the Freehold area of Lancaster for a summer is familiar with Swifts.

On a warm summer evening the sky above Freehold is full of these extraordinary birds, flying at ridiculous speeds as they chase insects, ‘screaming’ as they do so. It is one of the ‘sounds and sights of summer’ for anyone living in our area.

Swifts are one of the most extraordinary birds we see in Britain. Did you know…..

  • Swifts are believed to be a very ancient species and are unique in the bird world.
  • Swifts migrate (which is why we don’t see them for the rest of the year). They fly to Southern Africa and back every year (about 14,000 miles), a trip which takes them only about 4 weeks in each direction.
  • They are fast – they have been speed-checked at 70 mph which makes them the fastest of all birds, in level flight.  They are known as the ‘jet fighters’ of the bird world because of their speed and manoeuvrability.
  • Swifts rarely stop flying, only coming to the nest to feed their chicks. Everything else is done ‘on the wing’! How they manage to sleep is a bit of a mystery. It’s probably by having a system to turn off half of the brain, while the other half continues flying. (Humans could benefit from this system!)

Unfortunately, we seem to have lost more than half our swifts in recent years. Fewer insects to eat is a big problem, due partly to use of pesticides in fields and gardens. (Miss Whalley’s Field is a small contribution to increasing the number of insects.) A shortage of nest sites (typically in the eaves of houses) is another, and many local people have installed special nest boxes for them, (though the swifts have been rather slow to occupy them, according to reports!)

Now there is a new initiative to help the Swifts: Lancaster is to be a Swift City!

You are invited to the Declaration of Lancaster as a Swift City by our current MP, Cat Smith, on…..

Friday 7th June at 10am on Grasmere Road (LA1 3HE), near No 24.

Everyone is very welcome and refreshments will be available!

All we are saying is………. Give Swifts a Chance!