Green Gym sessions transform the city

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During four Green Gym sessions in January and February, volunteers worked hard to transform a prickly row of hawthorn trees into an excellent hedge, using the traditional craft of hedge laying. Using hand tools only, like billhooks, loppers and saws, participants braved the cold weather as well as sharp thorns, and the result is looking wonderful.

Hedge laying developed as a way of making a stockproof barrier out of readily available material. But many hedgerows were neglected or cut down e.g. to accommodate bigger agricultural machines for ever larger fields. In more recent years, the hedgerow has made a comeback as it is now recognised that they are valuable for wildlife, stock and the landscape in general.

In this case, the Green Gym volunteers worked on the hedgerow in the Hanson Environment Study Centre.

Monique van Assouw, Community Project Officer with BTCV, said: “It is an interesting skill to learn and you soon get the hang of it. The result is just brilliant and everybody was very pleased with their work.”

The Green Gym is open to everybody. They are free to attend and tools, gloves and refreshments are provided.

The Green Gym takes place every Thursday and on each fourth Saturday in the month. Sessions are held on a variety of sites and always start at 9.30am and finish at 1pm. People are welcome to join in for just an hour (or two) or stay until the finish. Each session can accommodate up to 15 volunteers and booking is therefore required.

Evaluation of over 100 Green Gym set-ups nationwide has shown that participation in a Green Gym is a great way for people to increase fitness and energy levels and reduce anxiety and depression. It also reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.

The Milton Keynes Green Gym is run by BTCV and supported by People’s Health Trust. BTCV aims to improve peoples’ health and well-being and further our vision for a better environment where people are valued, included and involved. Without funding from Peoples Health Trusts, BTCV would not be able to reach as many people to improve the local environment, their community spaces and their health. BTCV want to reach people in the community who are most at risk of poor health.

Monique van Assouw, Community Project Officer, says: “BTCV is delighted to have received funding from The Peoples Health Trust, which will help us to improve the health & wellbeing of people in Milton Keynes. The Milton Keynes Green Gym is a great opportunity to get outdoors, meet people and get active while also helping to improve the local environment”.

For information on the BTCV Green Gym call Monique on 07801 686 027 or email