Free tree packs for communities

Help plant 6 million trees to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

To celebrate the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth ll’s historic 2012 Diamond Jubilee, the Woodland Trust is helping millions of people across the UK to come together to plant 6 million trees.

They hope neighbours, communities, schools and families will come together to plant thousands of individual trees in their gardens, playgrounds and community spaces – each taking the chance to mark this special moment in history in a way that will stay with them forever.

Schools and community groups are welcome to apply for free tree packs to help local people get involved in the celebration, or you can browse our range of Jubilee trees to find the perfect one for your garden.

Interested? Contact the Woodland Trust on 0845 293 5689 or email

via Help plant 6 million trees to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee.

Operation Noah Declaration

Leaders  of the UK’s mainstream churches are today calling for repentance over the prevailing ‘shrug-culture’ towards climate change by signing Operation Noah’s Ash Wednesday Declaration.

‘Traditionally, Christians commit themselves to repentance and renewed faith in Jesus Christ on Ash Wednesday,’ said David Atkinson, Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Southwark. ‘We must live out that faith in relation to our damaging consumer economy, over-dependence on fossil fuels and the devastation we, as a species, are inflicting on God’s world. We believe that responsible care for God’s creation is foundational to the Gospel and central to the church’s mission.’

The Declaration is framed around seven biblical themes and argues that, to be a Christian is to accept the call to radical discipleship and to work through the implications for church life of a real change in lifestyle. In 1934 the Church took a stand with the Barmen Declaration which rejected Nazism.  The lead author, Karl Barth, had guts.  He mailed the declaration to Hitler personally.  The authors believed that the subordination of the church to the Nazi state was a confessional issue, an issue which touched the very heart of faith, not something that they could politely disagree about. Operation Noah believes climate change to be a confessional issue of similar magnitude.

The declaration affirms that God wants a richly abundant earth.  It states that now we know the dangers of climate change, repentance is the responsibility of every Church and every believer.  It argues that the challenges facing us are not merely economic and scientific but are moral and spiritual as well, and that we must hold our governments and corporations to account.

Operation Noah is encouraging individuals and church fellowships to read through the Ash Wednesday Declaration carefully and then, if willing, to sign the pledge on their website, where you will also find a wide range of resources to support the Declaration:

Treasure in the Field : Spiritual capital and sustainable living – 10th March

Christian Ecology Link invite you to take part in our 30th anniversary day conference “Treasure in the Field : Spiritual capital and sustainable living”, to be held on Saturday 10th March 2012 between 11am and 5pm, at St Michael’s Church, Stoke Gifford, not far from Bristol Parkway train station.

CEL have invited a range of thought-provoking speakers and workshop leaders. The keynote speaker in the morning is Jonathon Porritt, founder of Forum for the Future, followed by Tim Gorringe, Professor of Theology at Exeter University.

Paul Bodenham, CEL’s chairman, explains the conference theme : “We are spending the natural capital on which our children depend – not to mention the other species in our trust. Whether oil, metal, water or nutrients, it’s time to leave it in the ground and become treasurers, not consumers, of the earth. That requires investing in the source of ultimate value: spiritual capital.”

In the afternoon, workshops will explore alternative ways of living leading to a sustainable future for our ravaged world. Tim Gorringe explores the contradiction of infinite growth on a finite planet and transition town thinking. Chris Sunderland from EarthAbbey reflects on the contemplative heart of environmental activism. Jeremy Williams from Breathe suggests a radical change in our consumerist culture is vital to any hope of a sustainable future. Edward Echlin argues small scale, biodiverse, organic food production is not only the best way food growing preserves soil and stabilises climate but is also the most productive. Mark Letcher explores low-carbon living in an overall context of faith. Jonathan Essex asks if democracy can deliver sustainability.

The conference tickets cost £15 (£10 for CEL members). Concessionary price of £5 is offered to students and young people under the age of 25.

Booking forms and further details can be found on

Unearthing the secret to growing your own

The secret to growing food in your garden isn’t about expert knowledge, space or time – it is about doing it with a group of friends and helping one another get started. Bringing people together and starting such a group is straight forward and rewarding with Grow Zones, a community growing resource with a difference.

Unlike many other community growing initiatives Grow Zones equips people to use the power of community growing to grow fruit and vegetables in their own gardens, rather than a shared piece of land. This makes it a much simpler process, with a much quicker and rewarding impact.

The approach is simple. A team gather, share ideas and expertise, and help one another plan their growing season. They then get together for an easy schedule of Saturday morning visits to each others gardens. Everyone brings any useful tools they have for the jobs that morning and something to share for lunch. The host gets everyone to work on tasks they have planned for their garden, and the morning ends with a real sense of accomplishment and a shared meal.

The result is powerful: gardens are transformed and enjoyed; knowledge and expertise are shared; friendships are made and strengthened; and fruit and vegetables are grown like never before.

Last year the anglican church hOME facilitated a Grow Zones team in the spring and the autumn. When asked what was good about Grow Zones for them, those involved commented:

Simple, yet effective. Builds community far more effectively than a discussion group.

Lots of people feel instinctively that they want to make more of their small plot of earth (and get better connected to nature) but don’t know how or where to start. Grow Zones is a simple and fun way to do all that.

As a relatively new person to church, it has been great to get to know people better in a relaxed and informal way.

Working on a shared project with other people brings a group together.  It’s also easy to chat while you work without it feeling ‘forced’.

Grow Zones has helped us grow closer together as a community and closer to the land as we learn how to use it fruitfully.

The Grow Zones Kit helps everyone from seasoned gardeners to beginners to bring people together and start a group. The kit addresses the challenges facing a new grower with little time, little knowledge and little space, and provides all you need to plan and facilitate a team.

The gardening writer and presenter Alys Fowler said about the Grow Zones Kit: “At last, an easy to use guide on how to get a community group up and running. This is a brilliant resource for anyone who wants to gather some like-minded people together to get gardening. Now all you have to do is get out there and garden!”

Why not start a Grow Zones team in your area? Find out more and order a kit at

Soil & Soul Festival – 28 April 2012

Still Point, in association with the Diocese of Oxford, are organising Soil & Soul a one day festival celebrating the earth and contemplative spirituality in the Jesus tradition.

Taking place on Saturday 28th April from 10am until 10pm at the Isis Farmhouse Pub & Boathouse in Oxford, there will be speakers, including Peter Owen-Jones, art creation, workshops, folk music, poetry readings, meditation and yoga.

Early Bird Tickets Tickets costing £20 are available until 1st March, and then tickets will be £30 / £25.

Full details and ticket booking at:

Download poster.

Carbon Fast for Lent 2012

Join Tearfund and churches across the world for the Carbon Fast this Lent – starting on Wednesday 22 February – with daily actions and prayers to help you and your church reduce your emissions.

Whether you’re a nervous novice or a carbon-cutting champion, there’s something in this year’s Carbon Fast for you.

The daily actions focus on weekly themes providing something for all walks of life, including more adventurous actions for carbon-cutting experts who want a challenge and weekly actions who’s like to take things more slowly.

How to take part – three ways

  1. Get the actions: Download the actions at or order an action guide from or by calling 0845 355 8355.
  2. Sign up for Carbon Fast daily emails at – these include reflections and prayers and will be sent to you every day during Lent.
  3. Follow the Carbon Fast on Twitter – @carbonfast, #carbonfast

Please tell your church or small group too. Look for ways for your church to take part in the Carbon Fast, for example by featuring an action a week. You can order action guides in packs of 5 if you’d like lots to share with your church or group.

Spirit-led Sustainability Workshop – Sat 25 Feb

The Society of Friends in Reading is organising a Spirit-led Sustainability Workshop on Saturday 25 February to which all are

It will take place between 10.00 am – 4.00 pm at Reading Friends Meeting House, Church Street, Reading. The event will provide an opportunity for reflection on how we can, as individuals and as a community,  work towards a more sustainable future.

There will be a choice of workshops:

1.     Sustainability – Exploring The Challenges That Face Us, led by John Madeley and John Crosfield
2.     How to make best use of our gardens, a practical workshop, led by Jill Wheatley
3.    A Sustainable Economy; what needs to change in financial systems and in economics, led by Steve Mandel
4.    How Much Money Do We Need? a practical workshop using the JRT Minimum Income Calculator led by Marian McNichol

If you would like to attend, please advise John Crosfield tel 0118 9481557, e-mail

If you need to travel by car and would like parking, please say and we will send you a residents’ parking permit for the day. We will be having a vegetarian lunch. Please bring a dish to share.For further information please contact John Crosfield, as above, or Chris Griffin tel 01252843407, e: