EMEC were commissioned by Reach Learning Disability (Reach) to renovate an old pond and create a user-friendly wildlife resource area at one of their horticultural centres – Flower Pod Southwell.
Flower Pod is a 1.5-acre green space initiative created by Reach, a registered charity dedicated to supporting people with learning disabilities in Nottinghamshire.
Surrounded by farmland on the edge of Nottingham Trent University’s Brackenhurst campus in Southwell, Flower Pod locations help people with learning disabilities connect with both nature and their local community.
What did EMEC do?
A grant from the Samworth Foundation’s Transformation & Innovation Fund enabled Reach and Flower Pod to contract EMEC Ecology to landscape the space, create a new pond, a bog garden, and build new paths that are accessible for people with limited mobility or wheelchairs.
EMEC’s land management team are highly experienced in undertaking a wide range of pond and wetland habitat creation schemes. As such we were asked to produce an initial design which focused on the pond area, but this was soon expanded to realise the full potential of what could be achieved given the combined resources we could access.
Once designs were approved, our initial work at Flower Pod involved excavating an existing pond and lining with bentonite and puddled clay. Once this work was completed, we could then begin with the installation of new paths including a bespoke gabion bridge to create a circular walk which would enable users of all abilities to access and enjoy the garden space.
We also helped facilitate the creation of a new marshland area which would hopefully attract further species of wildlife to the wetland project.
Throughout the two weeks of work, volunteer teams from National Grid, NHS Supply Chain, Southwell Lions, Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and local volunteers, gave up their time to complete the transformation of a redundant pond and abandoned wildlife area and turn it into a vibrant wetland space.
Despite, poor weather and challenging topography causing numerous issues, the 40 volunteers built a land bridge with rubble and bricks, shovelled 20 tons of clay into the pond to make the puddled lining, cleared some of the existing paths for renovation and barrowed all the stone down to lay the new paths.
After completing the main works EMEC provided the materials and guidance for Reach to complete additional works which has enabled them to deliver a project which far exceeded their original expectations, particularly given the initial budget.
“We have always seen the potential of the pond area but we lacked the expertise and resources to develop it. We are very grateful that Samworth Foundation’s Transformation & Innovation Programme funded this as part of our Green Citizens Project, and to the 40 volunteers who have helped make this happen.”
EMEC’s involvement in the Green Citizens project made what was an ambitious plan for a small charity into a genuinely transformative end result that will allow us to offer a truly exceptional experience to our clients (adults with learning disabilities).EMEC helped plan, design and execute the building of our new wildlife garden. The combination of ecological and landscaping expertise was invaluable for the project. Dave Sutton kept us well informed throughout the perches of surveying, quoting and during the build itself. The EMEC team were clear and succinct discussing the works as we went along, as well as always being open to changes (some of them last minute!).
The EMEC culture is clearly to have a community-minded ethos, despite working on much bigger projects than this. They were very much partners rather than just contractors. They worked with our volunteers and clients really well, ensuring it was a flexible and engaging process. It was important to us that this was an interactive process for our clients and EMEC took the time to talk to them and the centre staff, so they understood the plan as it unfolded.”
Sam Ward, Horticultural Lead, Flower Pod
Working with NTU Ecology students
There were several student volunteers helping who study Ecology and Conservation at NTU, and they really appreciated how approachable and proactive the EMEC team were in giving them valuable hands-on experience and advice.
The work will also form a brilliant advert for what Reach do as a charity when talking to other organisations, funders and prospective clients; EMEC and NWT’s involvement has proven to be a massive asset.
As a charity Reach relies on larger organisations having a socially engaged and adaptable approach in order to develop an innovative, quality service. This is exactly what EMEC provided during this project.
Client name – Reach Learning Disability
Date – November 2022