Environmental volunteering: from nurturing nature to growing communities

Environmental volunteering is a great way to support the planet whilst giving back to your local community and there are many opportunities that can fit into your schedule.

Dr Karolina Rucinska, Sustainability Consultant at Cynnal Cymru shares her volunteering experiences with Oasis Cardiff and Good Gym:

This summer I will continue my work as a head gardener at Oasis Cardiff, a charity offering a warm Welsh welcome to asylum seekers and refugees. Oasis is based in a former church with a paved courtyard on a busy road full of takeaways. The area is littered and there are almost no trees or shrubs on the street apart from the ones at Oasis.  My job is to ensure they flower, attract birds and pollinators, and grow from strength to strength.  This year was particularly difficult because of the long periods of rain followed by drought but knowing that life is better with plants around us, keeps me motivated to do more.

When I am not looking at the garden at Oasis, I get involved with tasks at the Good Gym. It is a UK charity whose motto is, “Do good, get fit”. Instead of going to an actual gym, we walk, cycle or run to community centres, gardens, and allotments to do various tasks, from weeding and planting to building sheds and fruit cages. We are often referred to visit elderly people living alone who need help in their gardens too, so all in all, there are a lot of nature-based tasks.  It is hard work at times, but incredibly rewarding.

How to get involved:

Oasis Cardiff – whether to volunteer in the garden or to offer your teaching or cooking skills as a volunteer go to www.oasiscardiff.org/

Good Gym has currently got one branch in Wales, and it is in Cardiff. To get involved go to www.goodgym.org/

For nature-based activities in urban areas, I recommend getting in touch with Social Farms and Gardens or searching for a community gardening group via the RHS website.

Keep Wales Tidy – from organising a one-off clean-up to setting up a new community group, there really is something for everyone.

Volunteer with Keep Wales Tidy

Apply for a free nature garden for your local community.

You could also:

Attend a foraging workshop to truly realise how incredible plants are even in the middle of a city. I was lucky to be invited to one in Bute Park with Tizzy from Forager Cardiff, so I recommend getting in touch.

Take part in citizen science projects – The Springwatch website features a range of projects from hedgehog spotting to beetle sightings, you can contribute to find out how little or much wildlife is on your doorstep.

Make you garden a little more wildlife-friendly – the Gardeners Worlds website has some great tips for August.

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