Headlines from our AGM: 15th October 2020

5 December 2020

Our delayed Annual General Meeting was held on line on the 15th October. It was good to see seven members attending, in addition to the current Core Group.

Our activities have been curtailed this year by the pandemic and we look forward with hope to a much more active and engaged 2021.

If possible we plan to hold an event in the spring along the lines of the ever popular Grow, Share, Eat! and seed share of previous years. Keep an eye on future newsletters for further details.

We also hope to reinstate the clothes swap events to our calendar.

The pollinator project goes from strength to strength, due in no small part to the generous grant support given by the Town Council. We will be repaying this by making the town a prettier as well as a more pollinator-friendly place.

We continue to be financially stable with relatively few outgoings or new sources of income due to the current circumstances.

The existing core group was re-elected for the coming year: Dee Ross, Chair and core group leader, Esther Mann, treasurer, Caroline Romijn, secretary, and John Craythorne, newsletter editor. Here they are pictured on a cold day in the square when Co Cars from Exeter came along to promote their services. John Ross continues as our representative on the Town Council: thanks John!





This year and a half has presented many problems! Up until March we had been putting on events such as the Seed Share and Clothes Swap, and were looking at expanding. We did manage to get the new project for pollinators off the ground but then everything ground to to a halt.

Due to lockdown restrictions the AGM had to be delayed; apologies for this. The core group has been getting to grips with online meetings, building up to the AGM today. It would be good to see more online meetings or other ways of keeping in touch, as it is now clear that the pandemic is not going away in a hurry. We would welcome members' help in this regard.

Core activities:

Over this period the Core group activities of finance, insurance, networking and communications via the newsletter and Facebook have continued. We welcomed a new secretary, Caroline Romijn, replacing Emma Mitchell who had to move on to other things; thank you Emma for your work over the past few years.

We were instrumental in encouraging the Town Council to declare a Climate Emergency and set a target for achieving Zero Carbon by 2030. They also agreed to sign the Devon Climate Declaration.

We supported setting up the Town Council's Climate Change & Sustainability Sub-Committee, which unfortunately had to stop meeting with the advent of Covid. Sustainable Crediton are one of the voting members of the meeting, though any member of the public can attend. We are continuing to encourage the council to restart the meetings online.

We have been attempting to reach out to Mel Stride again to persuade him to "step up his efforts to champion the environment" (his words, his website). Our recent newsletter outlined our work to encourage him in his role as Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, as it considers the way forward after Covid and where money should be spent. Naturally we championed a green recovery!

We obtained a wonderful grant of £1500 from the Town Council for the Pollinator Project: many thanks to them. We also took the opportunity to raise funds by taking a Christmas slot at Tesco's, which was very successful both for our funds and for showing residents what Sustainable Crediton and the Pollinator Project are about.

Sustainable Crediton was promoted by attending the Mayor's reception, Crediton Museum opening, promoting the Chamber of Commerce's Totally Local initiative, attending Exeter University Climate emergency events. The core group have recently attended online events in order to keep up with fast moving changes. We are also aiming to work more closely with other local transition groups: an online pilot meeting was held on 12th October.

Events before lockdown:

· We publicised Sustainable Crediton and the Pollinator group at the Picnic in the Park during the Crediton Festival: the star attraction was Simon O'Sullivan's transparent bee display;

· We organised talks, presentations and a Bee Hotel workshop, the latter enlisting the help of Turning Tides;

· We collaborated with Tesco, Granny's Meadow and Turning Tides to establish a small wildflower meadow at the Tesco site. Tesco are keen to continue collaborating with us on further space there;

· We once more took part in the Parish Church Christmas Tree festival where we highlighted (decoratively!) the environmental impact of the clothing industry;

· We attended the Natural Devon Wildlife Conference;

· We attended the Naturally Heathy forum and held discussions with Devon County Council and the Crediton Wellbeing Project with a view to taking part in Social Prescribing where local people in need could feel able to come along to our projects and take part, helping with wellbeing in the Town;

· We held a promotional street stall in the High Street;

· Our food, woodland and waste groups also held events: more about these in the group reports.

As you can see we have been busy, though slowed considerably in recent months. We want to thank everyone who has contributed during the past year and a half.

The future:

The green shoots of change are becoming apparent with greener attitudes being shown by big business and government - it is up to us to keep them to their word and see action! Locally there is still a lot we can do to encourage residents to reduce, reuse and recycle, and rethink how we treat our planet.

Sustainable Crediton puts out a plea for help each year. There is so much we can do, even now, but we need your help to do it. A very small but enthusiastic group have kept Sustainable Crediton going, helping to educate and impassion people to make changes to their lives to help our planet. But we could do more with help. Do get in touch at info@sustainablecrediton.org.uk

4. Treasurer's Report

Esther Mann reported as follows:

We continue in a stable position financially. For the year ended 31 December 2019 we achieved a surplus of £169.16 of income over expenditure. Total assets amounted to £5,026.60. Detailed Accounts had been circulated by Email in advance of the meeting.

The Treasurer's report was approved by the meeting: proposed John Craythorne, seconded Frances Anson.

5. Food Action Group report

Dee Ross reported as follows:

In February this year we did hold the annual seed share. This was another successful event. It was very busy; it seems to grow in popularity each year. A great time was had by all, the cooks preparing meals, the Woodmen band and the many stalls that came along. Thank you to everyone who contributed. Though it is not its primary function, the event did raise quite a bit for our funds and the plants sold helped with the expenses of the first pollinator plot. We have booked a date for next year, but it is increasing looking like we

may not be able to hold the usual event. We are looking at other possibilities depending on whether restrictions change.

The Crediton Pig Club (as reported by Nicola Frost) has managed to continue to keep pigs and offer pork to members this year, despite the Covid restrictions meaning that social events and visiting the pigs has not been possible. We were out and about at the Seed Share before lockdown, and attracted plenty of interest from new people, with the help of the salt-dough pigs we brought along for children to decorate! Our two smallholder families from last year, Bert and Carolan, and Mick and Ann, both had pigs again, and very delicious it was too. This year the pigs were fed on locally produced peas and barley, rather than less environmentally friendly soya-based feed, and if anything the meat has been even more tasty. New members, both smallholders and pork-eaters, are welcome every year, and we of course hope to be able to resume our friendly get-togethers next year.

The Pollinator Group started off well but slowed as it took some time to negotiate a contract for a license to manage the land at Belle Parade. We planted the plot at Belle Parade; then Covid-19 struck. We have managed to maintain the plot with small groups of people working safely. Even now it is looking fabulous; many thanks to Simon O'Sullivan for his design work.

We have continued to work on other local possibilities and this weekend will start planting a plot near the Old Landscore School with the involvement of local residents. Other plots are in discussion, and if restrictions get no worse or improve we hope to widen participation in planting and management of plots. We are also working with Eve Malster on her plan to make the unused Spinning Path Gardens play area into a Community Orchard containing trees and pollinator planting. Other residents have come forward suggesting local areas that we could help manage for pollinators.

It was shame things have been so slow as originally several people did express interest in being involved; our apologies but events dictated progress.

Please let us know if you are interested in helping plan, plant and maintain new areas via our info@sustainablecrediton.org.uk e-mail.

6. Waste Action Group report

Esther Mann reported as follows:

We organised two very successful clothes swaps, and the group cooked food using surplus vegetables etc for the Seed Share. We also made the decorations for the Sustainable Crediton Xmas tree at the Crediton Christmas Tree Festival. The theme was the harm that the fast fashion trade does to the environment and this linked in with the November Clothes Swap. We had a clothes swap planned for June 2020 but Covid intervened!

7. Woodland Management Group report

John Craythorne reported as follows:

The Woodland Management Group continued the previous year's work, coppicing on a farm near Morchard Bishop. We meet on alternative Mondays through the dormant months. Activity in the early months of 2020 was much curtailed by very wet conditions.

We have started up again this October and are confident we can provide Covid-safe working conditions which comply with government regulations (at the time of the AGM).

Some members of the group are keen to diversify into tree planting and there can be flexibility around when we do this, depending on the preferences of group members. As always, we are keen to hear from anyone new who would like to get involved. Contact at info@sustainablecrediton.org.uk

8. Election of Core Group

The existing Core Group members indicated their willingness to stand again, whilst very happy to encourage other nominations. No-one volunteered; therefore:

Dee was re-elected as Chair/ Coordinator (nominated Esther Mann, seconded Frances Anson)

Esther was re-elected as Treasurer (nominated Caroline Romijn, seconded John Craythorne)

Caroline was re-elected as Secretary (nominated Dee Ross, seconded Helen Tuffin)

John was re-elected as Newsletter Editor/ Communications Lead (nominated Danuta Karpinska, seconded Frances Anson)

John, who now updates the Heart of Crediton blog as well as compiling and writing the newsletter, said how much he would like to find a volunteer to share these tasks. Anyone interested should contact him at info@sustainablecrediton.org.uk .


John Ross has kindly volunteered to remain our rep on Crediton Town Council.

This concluded the formal business of the AGM at approximately 8.00pm

AOB /General Discussion

· Seed Share: Louise Cumberland mentioned that she had really enjoyed the Seed Share 2020, and asked about alternative arrangements for 2021. Dee responded that we were looking into booking the Town Square (and market stalls) for a March date. Participants were enthusiastic about this, and about preparing and sharing food.

· Tree Planting: Caroline Romijn welcomed the Woodland Management Group's idea of getting involved in tree planting, and asked if others would support efforts to find land in outlying villages as well as with Crediton town? Participants were generally supportive and Danuta offered to investigate possibilities in Gunstone. Dee confirmed that Sus Cred is keen to support woodland/ pollinator areas throughout the district, especially with a view to building wildlife/ pollinator 'corridors'.

· Vegetable Growing: Louise is keen to promote vegetable growing, and suggested members might like to see a Zoom presentation by the Hebden Bridge pioneers who've started growing veg on roundabouts. This raised considerable interest. Prompted Helen Tuffin to wonder whether more food could be grown on People's Park, or on the verges of the new link road? Danuta was keen to support community allotments.

· Co-Cars : John is to attend a Zoom meeting about Co-Cars in the coming week and hopes to raise interest amongst members.

· Community Fridge/ Community larder. Sustainable Crediton would love to support a Community Fridge/Larder. Helen expressed interest; Clare Groom provided useful background info and is available as an advisor. All we need is an enthusiastic Lead Volunteer and some suitable premises! Great if 20/21 can be the year when this gets off the ground.

The meeting closed at around 8:45 pm