News and Events

Managing Grass in Churchyards

posted 17 Jul 2018, 01:21 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 17 Jul 2018, 04:03 ]

Managing Churchyards Grasslands for Wildlife outlines some advice about making the most of your grass to the benefit of people and conservation. Please see file below.


Inter Faith visit to Dartington (Delia Law)

posted 5 Jun 2018, 05:10 by Martyn Goss

Earlier this Spring some people from the Devon Earth and Faith Network went to see this forest garden which Martin Crawford, of the Agroforestry Research Trust, had started in 1994.

A forest garden is designed to mimic the structure of a natural forest based on trees, shrubs and perennial plants. The purpose is to be biologically sustainable, and able to cope with disturbances such as climate change. Also to be productive and, once established, to require low maintenance.

We explored the two acre site with Martin showing us the edible crops, such as sweet cicely (herb has sweet aniseed flavour), wild garlic, Solomon seal, ostrich fern shoots (fiddleheads) and hosta stems (needing roasting first). There were currants and berries of all kinds and carpeting species of rubus (blackberry family) along with ground cover using dwarf  species of bamboo.

 This forest garden is self-fertilising, using nitrogen fixing trees and shrubs, particularly alders, elaeagnus, comfrey, sorrel and coltsfoot.  To avoid using plastic material Martin grows and uses New Zealand flax to tie back plants. Attracting insects and especially bees means including plants, like the lungworts, that bloom early in the season when not many other plants are in flower.  Martin has seen this project flourish and has written several books entitled Creating a forest garden (2010),  Food from your forest garden – a cook book for gardeners (2013), and How to grow your own nuts (2016).

Later in the day we visited the Bee Meadow at Dartington, a more recently founded project. Beehives were made from tree trunks, with openings for the bees to enter and a door for the collection of the honey. Set in a vast meadow wild flower meadow this is an amazing location. Our group stood in the sunshine in the bees meadow to reflect on the day we had shared. We gave thanks to our Creator for the earth and all the blessings that we receive daily from our natural environment. We know how humans gain healing by being interconnected with the plants and animals around us. We humans are interwoven into the web of life and we need to act for the wellbeing of all life. May we all respect and protect our world as we live in God's acre.

“Earth's crammed with heaven,
  And every common bush afire with God,
  But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
  The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.”

(Elizabeth Barrett-Browning)


Prayers for Environment Day 2018

posted 5 Jun 2018, 01:11 by Martyn Goss

June 5th is World Environment Day. Prayers from the Church of England are attached below for public use.

O God, 

Remind us each day of our connectedness to you through the Earth you create.

May we walk on her softly, 
treat her gently,
and live humbly, 
as we seek justice for the flourishing of life,
and the integrity of your whole Creation.

Maker, sustainer and redeemer of all.


May-June News and Activities

posted 22 May 2018, 06:43 by Martyn Goss

1. Attached is an outline for a Rogationtide service from Canon Brian Davis. If it is too late for 2018 you might like to store for next year for marking the beginning of the Spring planting time.

2. Church Times Green Health Awards. The Church Times has launched new award scheme in National Gardening Week to encourage churches to use their green spaces to help communities benefit from improved mental and physical wellbeing. This is hoped specially to promote links between nature and human health.

The awards are open to all churches and other Christian organisations in the UK and the deadline for applications is 31 July 2018. The make-up of the judging panel, and details of the Green Health Live conference will be published shortly. For more information, and an entry form, visit:

3. Devon Development Education has launched its summer programme from May to July. Please see attached.

4. Cherishing Our Churchyards week takes place from 9th-17th June. This is a chance to recognise and celebrate the natural and historical richness they contain. See details attached from David Curry.

The Devon Living Churchyards project now has a new standing display which will be used initially at the Buckfast Abbey Millennium Fair on 1st June. (photo enclosed)

If you would like to borrow this for your own future event please contact David by email:

As part of this work a target workshop on bees and beehives in churchyards will be held on 15th September (see poster attached). Places are limited and booking essential.

5. Plymouth Green Book Club will be reading Richard Mabey’s book ‘Cabaret of Plants’ on 12th June at 6.30pm in the University’s Babbage Building (see attached)

6. Double Elephant is offering a free print animation workshop on Saturday 7th July 2018. Two sessions:10am - 12.30pm or 1.30– 4pm, at Top Studio, Exeter Phoenix Centre. Be a part of a new project helping Climate Scientists to tell their and your climate stories in innovative ways… (attached)

7. Devon’s Orchards are particularly affected by temperature change and over the past 60 years Devon’s mean temperature has increased by 20 C giving us a climate similar to that of mid-west France.

Apples and pears are flowering 4 to 6 weeks earlier than they were 20 years ago and in the south of the country pears are getting easier to grow and ripen. Likewise, warmer climate apples such as Braeburn and Gala can now be grown.

Check the planner on the Orchard Network's web site and see what jobs you could be doing in the orchard now.

8. ReGen (formerly ReGenSW) has just published a report on the ‘Devon Community Energy Impact Report’ and it has plenty of useful data demonstrating the added value of locally owned, grassroots energy activity. This includes churches participating in community energy schemes with their finance, buildings and volunteers.

The generation of 17,431 MWh of clean, green and community-owned energy, which can power 3,423 homes a year, and has saved 6,080 tonnes of CO2 emissions, are great achievements. But the thing that has stuck with me about this report is the story behind it, the ordinary people involved in community energy who mostly volunteer their time to install renewables and to tackle fuel poverty. Th
ey are taking direct action to run successful community businesses, motivated by climate change and social injustice, rather than profit for profit’s sake. The 23 community energy organisations in this report have supported 2,717 homes to save money on energy bills and use energy more efficiently, some of them track the impacts of their work on people’s quality of life and have found that community energy makes people happier. See details:
by clicking here

9. Exeter Eco Diocese continues to develop slowly and a gathering with Bishop Nick McKinnell to progress Eco Churches in Devon will be held at St. Edward’s, Eggbuckland, Plymouth on 24th October (poster attached).

EcoChurch SouthWest will be mailing readings and reflections during the Season of Creation/Creationtide again in 2018. Details will be posted on their website here in the coming months.

10. Devon Churches Rural Forum conference on the theme of Re-imagining Rural Ministry takes place at Cullompton Community Centre on 28th July. Details are on the poster enclosed.

Cherishing our Churchyards

posted 22 May 2018, 06:37 by Martyn Goss

Saturday 9th June – Sun 17th June 2018

Are you interested in celebrating your local churchyard or burial ground? Then join us for a special week to celebrate churchyards and burial grounds and to raise awareness of the treasures they contain.

Devon’s churchyards are special places:

·                   They often contain a rich diversity of plant and animal life.

·                   They are important places for archaeology and history.

·                   They often have distinctive and veteran trees.

·                      The stonework and boundary walls provide a home for a mosaic of   mosses, ferns and lichens.

·                    They provide a tranquil place for quiet reflection.

·                     They are a resource for inspiration and community learning.

Churchyards are often within walking distance of local communities and can provide a focus for community involvement.

Examples of activities include:

For families: A quiz, a treasure hunt, a mini beast safari, tree bingo, letter or leaf rubbing, making gargoyles out of clay…

Open days: guided tours, slide talks, tower tours...

Volunteer activities: making compost areas, scything the grass, repairing the boundary walls, memorial recording, bramble clearing, nest box making, path clearing…

Workshops: plant identification, animal identification, dawn chorus, geology, tree care, archaeology, creative writing, art.

Please visit “Caring for God’s Acre” website on Conservation Advice/Advice Sheets for Download if you feel the following information may be useful:

·         Activities for Young People

·         Attracting Volunteers

·         Health & Safety Information

·         Cherishing Churchyard Logo

If you would like to register your event as part of National Cherishing Churchyards week, please contact David Curry Email:


April news and activities

posted 6 Apr 2018, 02:36 by Martyn Goss

1. ‘The Good Immigrant’ is the book under discussion at Global Book Club Plymouth at 7.00pm on Wednesday 11th April. See details attached.

2. Storing Renewable Energy in Homes and Communities. Thursday 12th April 4.30pm at the Bateman Lecture Theatre, University of Exeter. Click here for further details and to book a place (also attached)

3. Plymouth Green Book Club will be looking at Miriam Darlington’s OWL SENSE at the Babbage Building, Plymouth University on 26th April. 6.30pm (see attached)

4. DEFAN (Devon Earth and Faith Network) are organising an inter-faith visit to the Forest Garden and other appropriate venues at Dartington, south Devon on Sunday 29th April, under the theme of ‘Foraging, Forests and Faiths’. See poster enclosed for booking and other details.

5. Cornwall Climate Vision environment day was held at Truro Methodist Church on 12th March. Please see here for talks and other resources.

6. A Rocha has launched a Microplastics Toolbox to help us act against microplastics in our local community- whether we are acting as an individual, a family, a church or any other group. This contributes to global efforts to fight plastic pollution in the oceans under the Sustainable Development Goal 14. Please click here

Also Revd. David Ireson’s talk at Exmouth’s Hard Questions Café ‘Why all the fuss about Plastic?’ is attached.

7. Earth to Earth – a natural history of churchyards by Stefan Buczacki. From the earliest pagan sites to modern urban cemeteries, burial grounds have always enjoyed a sacred, protected status in the history of society. Consequently they have become tranquil oases in which wildlife can flourish – a microcosm of the natural habitat long since disappeared from the surrounding area.

In this new book, Professor Buczacki uncovers the wild animals and plants that thrive amongst the headstones, from the graveyard beetle to the mighty yew. He also explores the history of churchyards and the landscape, as well as what can be done to conserve them for future generations. Accompanied by specially commissioned illustrations by Felicity Price-Smith and selected quotations, this beautiful gift book reveals the natural secrets to be found in God’s Acre.

8. Please see a short Easter Prayer with reference to integrity and wholeness attached

9. In Devon there are an estimated 180 churches and church properties which are on a 100% renewable energy tariff, and a new deal from Ecotricity is hoped to be agreed in the coming weeks which will hopefully increase this. Meanwhile, the Big Church Switch news attached gives an encouraging picture of the national situation as we move towards a low carbon society.

10.             Final quote:

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”

(Stephen Hawking)

Christians in Science Conference 2017

posted 4 Apr 2018, 01:20 by Martyn Goss

The audio recordings and slides from talks at last September's Plymouth conference Science: Exploring God's Creation are now on the ISS website.

Foraging, Forests and Faith

posted 23 Feb 2018, 02:24 by Martyn Goss   [ updated 23 Feb 2018, 02:24 ]

Devon Earth and Faith Network (DEFAN) is organising its next event as a visit to the Forest Garden at Dartington, South Devon. on Sunday 29th April, 10.30a.m. – 4.00p.m.

This interfaith day will consist of some walks around the Forest Garden, Pollinators Sanctuary and other sites in the area.  We will include discussion on the benefits of woodland  and local wildlife. There will also be an opportunity for some foraging and exploring native plant species.

Please bring with you lunch to share, and any appropriate reflections, stories and prayers about plants and animals from your own community traditions.

Shared transport will be arranged from Exeter on request.

All traditions or none are welcome! Please see poster attached.

Please book in advance:  01392-294940

Exeter Eco Diocese

posted 14 Feb 2018, 02:13 by Martyn Goss

The Diocese of Exeter is very committed to the national Church of England’s Environment  (formerly ‘Shrinking the Footprint Campaign’) for a low carbon future, including support for Fairtrade and using local growers and suppliers.

For those of us who aspire to be Christians Lent is a special time to try to live carefully, kindly and counter-culturally - especially with regard to the world around us. In so doing we can enhance our spiritual awareness and deepen our relationship with God. 

Lent encourages us to let go of that which entraps us and thereby freeing us to discover new parts of ourselves. So it’s a great opportunity to explore our lifestyle – on our own or with others.

This year the Diocese of Exeter is launching a voluntary Eco Plan for its staff, to encourage us to think and act more sensitively in relation to the whole of Creation. This is particularly important at a time that our human lifestyles are damaging the processes that sustain life leading to death and destruction for the most vulnerable communities and countries around the world.

This optional Eco Plan helps people to think about their lifestyle and further action they might take to reduce their impacts on the wider environment.


Plan for a Plastic Free Lent!

posted 12 Feb 2018, 02:38 by Martyn Goss

For Christians Lent is the time when we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness, facing challenge and temptation. It is a time when we reflect on God’s purpose for our life.

This year we challenge you to give up single-use plastics – to reduce the actions which damage God’s Creation. Over 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been produced since the 1950s. That’s enough plastic to cover every inch of the UK ankle-deep more than ten times over. Just 9% was recycled.

‘To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth’ is the Anglican Communion’s Fifth Mark of Mission. For actions and reflections see the attached below.

Share your journey with others on the Plastic-Less Lent Facebook Group



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