If We Build it… #30DaysWild – Day 9

#StayWild Tip: Construct a bug hotel with lots of hiding places and holes for insects and other creatures.

At the Youth Project we enjoy bringing a little bit of wild into every child’s life, and I get immense satisfaction from seeing a young person (or even an oldie like myself) become enthralled by a natural wonder, no matter how small.

I have all sorts of of ideas to create and inspire, and hope to develop a wildlife and eco-friendly garden for our social-enterprise Callander Hostel. It’s already a wonderfully wild space to spend some time – it has play furniture for young children, picnic benches, raised beds where we are growing potatoes, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and onions, as well as several herbs, and a polytunnel which has tomatoes, sweetcorn and cucumber growing inside.

The best thing is the view – arguably one of the most stunning in Callander, and our cafe customers really enjoy spending time here. From our garden you can see the entire eastern aspect of our wee local mountain Ben Ledi, as well as the wooded Callander Crags which tower above the town and dominate the horizon to the north.

One of my missions is to convert a small patch of the garden into a range of habitats to encourage as much wildlife diversity as possible. I had planned to include a small pond or bog, log piles, a bird feeding station, a small dry-stone wall, and – for Day Nine’s mission – a huuuuge insect hotel. No, an insect mansion, a veritable “Bug-ingham Palace”!

I had been offered help with this project by our friendly neighbourhood Ranger Bev, who works with the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. She had succeeded in rustling up a group of enthusiastic volunteers from the Central Advocacy Partnership, who provide a range of services for people with a learning disability, and they rocked up on Thursday morning armed with tools, hard hats, packed lunches and bags of energy! With wonderful serendipity, this week is also marks the launch of the BBC-sponsored #DoSomethingGreat for Nature initiative, as well as being #NationalVolunteerWeek – what a perfect time to be working in partnership with our local community to help local wildlife.

I had been collecting materials for a while: logs, pine cones, twigs, tins, tubes, bricks (the ones with the holes in them), bamboo canes, rocks, bark and some hefty big pallets to use as foundations, and Bev supplemented this with even more goodies including tiles, slates and turf.

Together, the group made short work of clearing a patch for the project. While some got on the heavy lifting, a different group began creating “rooms” for the hotel. There was something to do for everyone, including accidentally hosing down our very friendly Ranger, but I won’t dwell on that….

Building the “rooms”
It’s going to be huge…
Everyone got stuck in!
Our supervisor takes a well earned break!
Bev takes charge
Ranger Bev Approved™
Almost done…
Me, Bev and our awesome volunteers – all finished!
What a monster 😀

I can’t wait to see who moves in, and I’m especially looking forward to sharing the progress with local young people, CAP and the National Park. The day’s work proves that a kind and compassionate approach to nature can encompass all abilities, ethnicity and ages, and deserves to be one of the foundations for all youth and community work.

Nature offers a canvas for inclusive activities that can be enjoyed on so many levels by people who are just as diverse as the wildlife we hope to attract!

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