About HBUF

Become an HBUF trustee

We’re looking for some new trustees… could that be you?

What you can expect…

The Trustees typically meet once a month. As well as being responsible for the running of the charity, we also act as the management committee for the forest. We set the long-term goals and plan the day-to-day activities.

Each month, we review whatever has happened since the last meeting. That includes any progress on ongoing projects plus our volunteer days and other one-off activities. We also plan for whatever events are coming up, deciding what activities need to be prioritised and making sure we have everything in place to make them a success.

As Trustees we have a responsibility to ensure that we run the charity in accordance with the rules set out by the Charity Commission and our own Constitution. On a practical level that means proper management of our accounts and equipment, sorting out things like insurance & grant applications and engaging with other organisations, like the Parish council and volunteer groups.

You can find out more about how the charity is governed and the responsibilities of a trustee in our Constitution and our Trustees Job Description and Code of Conduct

Who we’re looking for

The trustees each take on the tasks and responsibilities that fit in with their own skills and experience, and that they have the time and commitment to deliver. Each of us has our own strengths and something different to offer. Maybe you know about trees & plants, could run our social media, organise volunteers, or do some fundraising.

Applying to become a trustee

Trustees will be elected at the AGM on 19th September. The list of candidates, with a short statement from each of them, will be sent out to members in advance of the meeting. If you would like to be considered, please email contact@hbuf.org with your name and a couple of paragraphs about your background/experience and why you would like to become a trustee. Close of applications is 5pm on Friday 1st September. If you’d like to find out more before applying, then please get in touch and we can have a chat.

Our current trustees

HBUF may have between three and eight trustees. We have seven at the moment:

  • Andy Bentley – Chair
  • Mary Farragher – Secretary
  • Kate Henery – Treasurer
  • Steve Thompson
  • Sue Gwinnell
  • John Ballman
  • Flora Wilkins

Become an HBUF trustee Read More »

2022 Report from the Chair of Trustees

It was my pleasure this year to deliver the Chair’s report to our AGM. This was the first time I’ve done it since taking over as Chair from Steve Thompson, one of the charity’s founders.

Andy Bentley, Chair of Trustees

The report covers the edited highlights from the year gone by.

We followed it (after tea and cake of course) with a discussion about what we have planned for the year ahead and of the suggestions that people had about what they’d like to see us doing, of which more will follow.

We have had another fabulous year, with some significant new additions to the site and increased participation from members of the local community.

Miyawaki Forest
With support from the Parish Council, we added our Miyawaki tiny forest of fruit next to the existing orchard. Councillors paid for the fencing and some of their trees from their allowances. It’s already seen its first crop this year and we look forward to next year’s harvest with great anticipation.

Celtic Circle
The idea for the Celtic Circle had been floating around for quite a while so it was great to make a start on that. As some of you will know it’s based on the old Celtic tree calendar, with each of the 13 lunar months represented by a different tree. I was very happy to find out that my birthday falls in the month of the mighty oak, much better than my zodiac sign of Cancer the crab.  All the big trees are in. Next, we have to finish it off with the vine, ivy, and reed that will complete the circle. Oh, to be around in 20- or 30-years’ time to see it in it’s full glory!

The one-off event we had to plant sunflowers as a small show of solidarity with the people of Ukraine was a great success. For weeks now we’ve had a great display of colour in among our Miyawaki forest trees and the flowers keep coming. It will be interesting to see if any of them have self-seeded for next year.

Volunteer Days
Our volunteer days have proved popular, attracting new people along throughout the year and allowing us to do all the wonderful things we do.

The local Scout troop has paid us a couple of visits, helping to plant our fruit trees in the Miyawaki Forest and growing sunflowers to be part of our display.

In July, children from Swindon Academy school came along to help us with various jobs around the site. They did a spot of pruning, had great fun rebuilding the dead-hedging around the badger setts, and shifted about a ton of woodchips.

I met a lady while walking the dog who mentioned that her granddaughter had been one of the kids who came to help that day, and who had gone home to tell her family what a great time she’d had.

By getting more children involved we hope to develop a connection between them and the forest. We want them to love it as much as we do. And maybe in years to come, some of those kids will be here in our place.

Individual Volunteers
We also owe a great debt of thanks to all those people that can’t necessarily make it to our volunteer sessions, but who help when they can, particularly with litter picking. People out walking their dogs or making a special effort to go out and help. If it wasn’t for them the forest would soon get buried under a mountain of other people’s rubbish, or we’d be picking litter every month instead of planting trees or looking after the meadow, the paths and so on.

Plans for the future
Over the next twelve months we aim to carry on with some of the things we have started this year.
The Celtic Circle needs to be completed and we’ll be giving some TLC to the plants in the Miyawaki Forest. Some of you may have noticed that we’ve cleared a new area to the north of the Miyawaki Forest where some more trees will be going in.

We hope to have more collaborations with the Scouts, local schools and other groups so we can carry on cultivating relationships between young people and the forest.

One thing we tried this year was to hold some of our sessions on different days and times, so that people who can’t make the regular Sunday morning slot get the chance to become more involved. That’s been really successful, so expect more of it this year.

More than that, we’d love to hear what ideas you have…

Andy Bentley

2022 Report from the Chair of Trustees Read More »

Learner Drivers

Last year HBUF took delivery of the tractor that we have been using to support some of the maintenance activities around the site. We share it with Central Swindon North Parish Council. You may have seen it in action mowing the picnic field and the wildflower meadow. It also has other attachments, like the wood chipper and trailer, that allow us to do a variety of other jobs.

Until now, Steve was the only person with the necessary skills and experience to operate it safely. To share the load, Kate and Andy volunteered to get trained up.

At the beginning of March, Kate and Andy spent two days on a training course run by the John Oldacre Rural Innovation Centre. The centre is part of the the Royal Agricultural University and offers a wide range of training in practical and managerial skills for anyone involved in food production and land management.

The “Tractor Driving – Introduction” doesn’t mess about. After a session on health and safety it was straight out and into the cab. And there’s no little baby tractor to practice on, it was straight into the real thing. Quite daunting when the wheels are bigger than you are!

It’s a little bit bigger than our one!
Reversing the trailer on day one!

The two day course was a real eye-opener into how sophisticated (and complicated!) modern day tractors are. The beasts that they learnt on are a LOT bigger than our little one at HBUF, but the skills and techniques still apply.

After learning how to drive the tractor in the yard it was on to attaching implements like the trailer and mower. Ironically the bigger tractors make that easier, with a lot more adjustment and tweaking possible from the cab than is available with our little one. Not surprising, given how hard it is to make manual adjustments to the bigger bits of kit.

And who would have guessed that they’d be reversing with the trailer on the first day?

Of particular importance for us is the safety aspect in all of this. Learning how to operate the tractor and associated equipment safely for both our volunteers and members of the public is essential at HBUF. One thing that sets us apart from a farmer in their field is the number of passers-by we need to look out for.

Kate and Andy pose beside a tractor out in the field.
Kate and Andy, having mastered the tractor

There was an unintentional age test as part of the course, with a bit of word association. The instructors over the two days were Steve and Austin. Ring any bells?

Depending on your age that might bring to mind a much loved TV show from your childhood or, for younger folk, a star of the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). We’ll let you decide who it reminded our pair of.

Learner Drivers Read More »

Our Miyawaki Mini Forest

A new creation for HBUF in 2022 is our ‘Miyawaki’ mini forest. Akira Miyawaki was a Japanese botanist and plant ecologist who was interested in how plant species interact with each other within communities. He came up with a technique for restoring degraded land by the very dense planting of native species, planting trees and other native species far more closely together than we would normally do.

We have already planted hundreds of native trees and thousands of wildflowers on HBUF, much of it on what used to be allotments. We decided to put our own twist on the idea, creating a Miyawaki mini forest of fruit.

The mini forest has several layers of fruit, starting with gooseberries and currants down at ground level, with plums, cherries, apples, pears, hazel and sweet chestnut rising above them.

The Miyawaki Forest is nestled between the Orchard and the Wildflower Meadow

We’ve selected a range of different varieties too. Each one is ready to harvest at a slightly different time of year, which should give us fruit throughout the season.

HBUF is here for the benefit of all the community. In years to come you’ll be able to wander through and pick a bit of fresh fruit to go with your picnic.

If you are interested in the idea of a Miyawaki Forest, here are a couple of links that tell you a bit more about it:

Fast-growing mini-forests spring up in Europe to aid climate (Guardian)

The Miyawaki Method for Creating Forests

Our Miyawaki Mini Forest Read More »

Our Celtic Tree Circle

Our tree circle is based on the idea of the Celtic Tree Calendar. The origins of the calendar are uncertain.  Some believe that the Druids created this system, while other Celtic Pagans think it pre-dates the time of Druidic influence over Celtic religious matters. The version of the calendar that we are using is widely credited to Robert Graves’ book ‘The White Goddess’

What *is* certain is that it’s a great new feature for HBUF and will be a fantastic talking point in years to come.

The trees go in

The Celtic Tree Calendar splits the year into 13 lunar months, with each one having a different tree associated with it, like the zodiac idea that we’re all familiar with.

Our thirteen trees (actually, they’re not all trees!) are:

BirchDecember 24th to January 20th
RowanJanuary 21st to February 17th
AshFebruary 18th to March 17th
AlderMarch 18th to April 14th
WillowApril 15th to May 12th
HawthornMay 13th to June 9th
OakJune 10th to July 7th
HollyJuly 8th to August 4th
HazelAugust 5th to September 1st
Vine​September 2nd to September 29th
IvySeptember 30th to October 27th
ReedOctober 28th to November 23rd
Elder​November 24th to December 23rd
Our Celtic circle trees

The new Celtic Circle is to the east of our Wildflower Meadow. The image below imagines the trees as they’ll be in a few years… they’re not quite big enough to show up on Google Maps just yet 🙂

Our new additions for 2022

If you’d like to check out your Celtic horoscope, or learn a bit about the Celtic Tree Calendar you can find out more on the following sites, which each give their own take:



Our Celtic Tree Circle Read More »

HBUF Recognised by RHS/South West in Bloom

Hreod Burna Urban Forest has again been recognised by the Royal Horticultural Society and South West in Bloom.

We have been awarded a Certificate of Recognition in 2020, for being an important part of a wider movement to make all our communities stronger, greener, and happier.

Copy of a certificate of Recognition issued by the Royal Horticultural Society and South West in Bloom.
There's a typo though, it reads "Hreod Borna" instead of "Hreod Burna".

In a general letter to all South West in Bloom groups, Kay Clark, RHS Community Development Manager said: “This year an amazing sense of community spirit has enabled people to face the difficulties of this dreadful pandemic. Through Bloom, it’s Your Neighbourhood and other community gardening activities, you have laid the strong foundations that helped make your communities more resilient in these testing times.

“We know that people have felt closer to nature through lockdown and valued access to green space so much more and we have heard that people are valuing your work more than ever before. We have been incredibly moved by your stories of courage, creativity and ingenuity in helping your wider communities through this time and we wanted to recognise how important you all are and how valuable your work is with certificates in 2020.”

Steve Thompson, the Chair of Trustees for HBUF, said “We have been given awards from South West in bloom for several years now. Normally they have gone around with me, but this year they couldn’t because of COVID-19. If they had visited, they would have appreciated the new planting. And I’ll have a word with them about their spelling…”

Since the South West in Bloom judges last visited the forest, our volunteers have planted hundreds more trees and over a thousand new wildflowers. Let’s hope they are suitably impressed when they visit us again next year!

HBUF Recognised by RHS/South West in Bloom Read More »

Our Sparrowhawks

For some years now, I’ve been noticing a particular call in the woods during spring.  You should be quite surprised at this, because I am notoriously unobservant and can rarely spot anything unusual or interesting.  Then, this spring, I came across what I took to be a bird of prey with a pigeon not far from the weir bridge; this was just beside the trees we planted in January close to Pinehurst Road. 

I did a bit of research on the internet (how on earth did we manage to find stuff out before this amazing invention?) and had a listen to the birds on www.british-birdsongs.uk.  My dog got a bit mystified as I worked my way through the recordings of black kite, red kite, kestrel, merlin, buzzard, peregrine falcon and more.  Well, enough of the waffle, it transpired that it was the call of the sparrowhawk I was hearing.  Steve (Thompson) posted the information on our Facebook page a little while ago.

Then, suddenly, there were no more calls.  What had just happened?  Had we let the cat out of the bag and vandals had done away with our beautiful birds of prey?  On my daily walk, I noticed a car-sticker calling for action to protect songbirds and racing pigeons – horror of horrors!

Then Google let me down.  I could find articles about the effect of birds of prey on local songbird populations (not significant apparently, so the car-sticker person should worry less) and lots of other information, like for example, that the female is larger than the male, so the latter is able to manoeuvre much better than his missus, but no information about seasonal calls.

Eventually, I emailed the British Trust for Ornithology.  The reply was at the same time comforting as well as perturbing:

“In short, you are right about Sparrowhawks only being vocal during the breeding season. The male will call to the female when he brings food in. He doesn’t approach the nest as he might become food himself – males are much smaller than females – the food is handed over away from the nest to much calling by the female. Once the young get bigger they too will call for food. Once the young leave the nest they will perch close by for a week or two and call for food but once they become independent the wood will fall silent until next year. Outside of the breeding season Sparrowhawks are largely silent.”

So, there you have it.  Our sparrowhawks are safe at HBUF, though the male is rather less safe than the female.

Our Sparrowhawks Read More »

Minutes of Meeting, April 2019

Present at meeting: John Ballman, Steve Thompson, Kate Henery, Bob Sherman, Mary Farragher

Apologies for absence:

Sue Gwinnell, Amanda Musto

Minutes of last meeting:

Accepted as a true record

Matters Arising:

  1. New lock for shed – Steve has approached company but received no response as yet.  Will follow up.
  2. As to security – John Ballman reports that the Parish has taken over the depot off Pinehurst Road so that will be secure for HBUF to use.

Compact Tractor:

HBUF has £17,500 in our funds towards this.  The Parish is willing to share buying and costs with us, with the condition that only named drivers will be able to drive it.  We will then share in its use.

Eco-Fest 14th April:

Details about this once more.  Steve has been asked to give a talk about HBUF, which is to take place at 2.00.


Because of elections responsibilities, HBUF will have no meeting in May.

Meeting closed 8.00

Next Meeting: 7.00 Monday 10th June 2019, St Barnabas Small Hall.

Minutes of Meeting, April 2019 Read More »

Minutes of Meeting, April 2018

Present at meeting: Kate Henery, Steve Thompson, Josie Lewis, Bob Sherman, Amanda Musto, Marieanna MacPherson, Mary Farragher

Apologies for absence: Sue Gwinnell, Stuart Batsford

Minutes of last meeting: Josie stated that she had amendments; Steve moved that the meeting accept the unamended minutes as an accurate record and this was passed.

Matters Arising:

  • Josie handed out an extended version of the minutes which the meeting dismissed as an irrelevancy.
  • Steve asked Josie to email to him the quote for planings that she had found.
  • Celtic Tree Calendar: Kate has estimated the costs at £1,200 inclusive.
  • New bank account: Kate is starting the process online (as the bank has indicated).
  • Mini opinion poll: Amanda reported a positive response to this. She will bring the results to May’s meeting.  Hedgehog run query as well.
  • Tree pruning: Steve reported that the Council has not got the budget for this, but that Rob Cove would send someone out to have a look.

Chairman’s Report:

Steve has paid the bee-hive deposit; he will advertise exactly when it is to take place via Facebook.


The wrong mini-dumper was delivered so we have to wait a little longer for the one we want.

Jobs for Well-being Group:

This is for Mon 23rd April.  Steve suggested that concrete posts, wire mesh, rubble should be taken to one spot next to the sleeper bridge, where it should be covered with topsoil and chippings (with reminder about wearing of masks).


  • Steve suggested droppable bollard at main entrance – all in favour; he will get an estimate.
  • Josie – road planings quote from a council source
  • Reminder of Britain in Bloom in July; any photos please send to Steve who will pass on to Richard
  • Litter-picking along cycle track a good idea.
  • Concern about presence (and possible source) of used nappies being dumped in the woodland.

Meeting closed at 7.55.

Next Meeting: 7.00, Monday 14th May, St Barnabas Small Hall.

Minutes of Meeting, April 2018 Read More »

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