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St. Arvans Countryside and Gardening Club - meeting 7.30 3rd June in the Memorial Hall - 'Herbs and Uses in the Past'

The club aims to appeal to wide interests by providing a varied programme through the year. Come and enjoy some good company and have an informative evening. Meetings are the first Monday in the month in the Memorial Hall unless it is a bank holiday.

St. Arvans C& G Club was previously known as the Village Produce Association and by 1958 was one of 20 VPAs in Monmouthshire. They were formed to carry on from the Dig for Victory campaign during the Second World War. Annual County Shows, County Quiz competitions and Harvest Festivals were held at various locations. Donated home grown produce would be auctioned at the Harvest Festival with proceeds going to charity.
The Associations paid a fee to be affiliated with the Usk College of Agriculture and held the Annual County Show at the college on its Open Day. Competition was serious but amicable, with many friendships formed over the years. For this affiliation fee the VPA were able to call on speakers for their monthly meetings.
Founder members of St. Arvans VPA were Ray and Nancy Bull, Mrs Betty Clay, the Neal and Dixon families amongst others.Members brought along their surplus garden produce to swap or give away, and held their own Annual show in August, which included cookery and hobby sections. A Harvest Supper was held every year in October. This continued until the 1990`s when changes at Usk College meant that the connection with the VPA ended, and St. Arvans was renamed the Countryside and Gardening Club to widen the interests.

Membership fees are £6 per annum and visitors welcome at £2 per visit. Reports on some of the meetings are below.

May 2015

The speaker was Mr. Allen Lloyd whose subject was `Travels around the World`which he illustrated with some spectacular slides, accompanied by music.These included views of Nepal (before the earthquake)and of the Nepalese going about their daily lives, happily smiling for the camera.Also animals on Safari in Kenya, colourful birds and some breathtaking views of Tintern and the Wye in the dawn mists. A vote of thanks was given by Mrs Pauline Widdas.

After a break for tea and biscuits, secretary Rita Owens accepted apologies and read the minutes of the April meeting. There were no matters arising.

Vice Chairman Tony Newman gave details of a possible outing to Usk Castle and Gardens in either June or July, to be decided at the next meeting.He announced the winners of the monthly competitions which were for the best foliage plant and garden bloom. Prizes will be presented at the end of the year to the entrants with the highest number of points overall.

The next meeting on June 1st.will be a talk on `Growing Herbs and their Uses`The competitions will be for` An Arrangement of Herbs on a Plate `and a` Garden Bloom`

June 2015

Despite the wind and heavy rain, there was quite a good turnout for the meeting at the Village Hall on Monday evening June 1st. Tony Newman welcomed Mr Mark Jack who has a BSc Honours Degree in Herbal Medicine and is a member of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists. Mark offers personal consultations at his practice in Chepstow and also leads herb walks and workshops, details to be found on his website.http://markjack.co.uk
Mark described how herbs can help most conditions and answered the many questions from members. Tony Newman thanked Mark for a most enjoyable and interesting talk. During the tea break Mark judged the two evening competitions, which were an Assortment of Herbs and a Garden Bloom.
After a short business meeting, garden visits were again discussed and it was decided that a group of members will visit `Woodhaven`, Itton on 20th June to the Open garden and also the Art and Craft Exhibition at the Itton Village Hall, where refreshments will be available together with cake and plant stalls.Members to meet at St. Arvans Village Hall at 1.30pm for car sharing.

July 2015

Mrs Rosemary Parkhouse, representing 'Transition Chepstow' gave a talk at the July meeting on the improvement and management of open spaces in and around Chepstow. An example of this is the planting of wild flowers on some verges and roundabouts. Home owners are also being encouraged to plant wild flowers and other species that would attract wild life into their gardens. Some work remains to be done on this project. She was thanked by Tony Newman.

After the tea break Tony Newman gave a report on the group outing to the excellent Art and Craft Exhibition at the Itton Village Hall, and then on to the Open Garden at `Woodhill`Itton for a delicious cream tea and tour of the beautiful garden and a meadow with spectacular views.

Abbey Mill, Tintern will be providing the catering for the club’s Harvest Supper in October. Menu choices to be made menu at the September meeting.

The competition for` Three Hydrangeas`was won by Maureen Newman and the`Garden Bloom` by Silvia Eggert.

September 2015

After the August break meetings resumed on Monday the 8th of September with an illustrated talk given by Mrs Lesley Kelly on the National Parks of North America which she had visited over the years. Mrs Kelly also brought along some produce and cuttings from her beautiful garden at Itton which some members had visited in June. She also judged the monthly competition entries.
A short business meeting was held for members to choose their menus for the Harvest Supper provided by the Abbey Mill at the Hall in October.

October 2015

On the evening of 5th. October, thirty members arrived at the Village hall to be greeted with a welcome drink before the Harvest Supper which was provided by Abbey Mill, Tintern caterers.The meal was of a high standard as usual and was much enjoyed by all.
A raffle of generous donations was held and the competition for the best table flower arrangement was judged by Mrs Rastell of the Abbey Mill.After socialising over coffee, members helped to clear the Hall.
The AGM will be held at the November meeting after a talk given by Mark Langley on `Out and about in Monmouthshire`

November 2015

Mr Mark Langley of Monmouthshire County Council Countryside Services, gave an excellent presentation with the aid of slides, entitled `Out and about in Monmouthshire`.

Report from AGM

a) Officers and Committee will remain the same for the coming year.
b) Membership fees will rise to £7.50
c) Ideas for outings were discussed and will be investigated

Mrs Sandra Hollis will demonstrate Flower Arranging at the next meeting on December 7th and will donate the results to the raffle.

Early 2016

There were good attendances at the first meetings of 2016. In January, Allun Lloyd, an award winning photographer, showed some stunning images of Alaskan bears gathering along the streams and rivers to feast on the salmon runs during one of his many expeditions to North America. At the February meeting, historian Peter Strong spoke on the food situation in Gwent during the first World War.

In March, Colin Elliott presented an excellent slide show illustrating Gwent wildlife a subject he has been interested in all his life. Later that month, a group of members visited Oakgrove Stud to see the new young foals.Other visits to Open Gardens and wildlife meadows are proposed for later in the Summer.

No stranger to St Arvans, Judy Challoner gave members detailed advice at the April meeting on which bulbs and rhizomes to grow in certain soils and situations

June 2016

` The Foresters Forest` was the illustrated talk given by Sue Middleton, who is programme manager for the Heritage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership Scheme within the Forest of Dean, at the May meeting at the Memorial Hall. The aim of the programme is to raise awareness and preserve the cultural and industrial heritage for people living, working and visiting the forest.
At the June meeting, Dr Keith Mosely, recently retired Head of Physics at Monmouth school, and organiser of the local Astronomy club, gave a presentation, with slides, of the Sky at night. In uncomplicated terms, Dr Mosely inspired quite a lot of interest in members and was able to give advice on purchasing telescopes e.g. his talk was much enjoyed by all.
Final arrangements were made for a trip to the Wildflower meadow at Penallt on 24th, June and a visit to Westbury Gardens on 20th July.
The entries for `A Flowering Stem` in the monthly competition have increased greatly . It isn`t an easy task for whoever does the judging as freshness and flawlessness should be taken into consideration, and also the rarity of the bloom. The second entry varies every month.
The July talk will be given by Rosemary Parkhouse on Transition Chepstow`