Manna interview: Going greener

4th April 2023

Reduce reuse recycle bunting and bug hotel St James Taunton

Sue Carpenter explains how St James, Taunton is caring for creation in its church grounds for the benefit of the wildlife, and the church and local community.

What made you look to have a ‘greener’ churchyard?

Back in 2018 our PCC resolved to engage with the Eco Church initiative and improving the management of the churchyard came out of that.

What changes to the management of the churchyard have you made?

We’ve created a meadow area, worked with the council to introduce a more eco-friendly mowing regime and our children have created a bug hotel. We’ve also installed a compost bin in the churchyard and have wood piles which support wildlife.

Have your changes reaped any rewards?
The church community has become more aware of the value of our church grounds and what lives and grows within it. It would be great to have had a similar effect on the wider community as we try to make the church grounds more welcoming and open. For instance, we had an Easter trail in 2021 and a Jubilee event last year.  We have a ‘Spring of Hope’ planned for this Spring using some resources from Muddy Church.

It is being monitored by the Somerset Botany Group and in 2022 they found over 120 species of wildflowers, trees and ferns – including the rare Bee Orchid, as well as five different species of bumble bees themselves.

What has been the reaction of the wider church community to the changes?

We have had a positive response. It’s been important to try to keep people engaged and informed, which we try to do with regular articles in the church website and magazine and use our church Facebook page to share events and news. We have labelled the areas where we’ve made changes too, so that those visiting or passers-by can understand what we are trying to do.

Have you achieved an Eco Church award yet?

We started looking at the Eco Church scheme just a few months before the pandemic, which has slowed progress to an extent.  However, we have made good progress in many of the areas, and hope to apply for a Bronze Award very soon. We continue to work across the Eco Church categories so that in each we can meet the requirements of the Silver Award or better. The Community and Global Engagement category is an area we need to explore further.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering making their church grounds more eco- friendly for the benefit of wildlife, members of the church and the wider community?

Attend the Somerset Wildlife Trust/Bath and Wells Wilder Churches sessions online.  These are excellent in providing information, advice, and encouragement. You’ll get to meet like-minded others and it's useful to share ideas. Past sessions are all available on their website, along with a plethora of useful links.

Make good connections within the church and wider community at every opportunity and get to know local organisations with a similar vision, such as: the Wildlife Trust; Somerset Botany Group; local nature enthusiasts; involve yourselves with other related projects.

Get in touch with those who manage the grass on your site. I met with Somerset West and Taunton Parks and Open Spaces team and talked over the mowing management in Autumn 2021 and they started a new regime in 2022.

It’s useful and fun to have a nature identification app on your phone. You could even start a project for your church grounds. There are some great examples on the iNaturalist website.

Our St James’ church website has results from the wildlife surveys, some photos and links to useful organisations which you may like to explore and the Caring for God’s Acre website is particularly helpful.


This interview was first featured in the April edition of the Manna mailing.

Powered by Church Edit