March Digest - Mucknell Abbey
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March Digest

It’s very much been a month of two halves here at Mucknell Abbey. All was running as usual until Tuesday 15th, when 5 members of the Community tested positive for Covid-19. Two others then tested positive later the same week, leaving us with just 4 people to run the monastery for a couple of quite interesting days! ‘The Healthy’ were greatly relieved when ‘The Sick’ started gradually testing negative and finishing their isolation periods; as I write, the final person isolating has just tested negative and so we’ll be back to ‘normal’ tomorrow.

Prior to this, there have been a couple of projects ongoing round the garden and wider estate. On the wider estate, we had a contractor in to remove the reeds from our swales. The reed beds in the swales have become an important part of the range of habitats we have on the estate, and so removing them like this was not ideal. If left, however, the reeds would have continued to spread, eventually choking the swales due to the accumulation of dead plant matter in the water. Over the next few years, however, the reeds will regrow, and so the swales will continue to provide habitat for a whole variety of species. In these photos, you can see part of the machinery in action, the swales in their post-reed state, and the pile of reeds that was removed from all 3 swales.

While reeds have been disappearing on the estate, a new structure has appeared in the Kitchen Garden. A while ago I (Sr. Jessica) read about the idea of a spiral herb garden in a book on permaculture, and thought it was worth trying. The advantage of doing this is that it provides a variety of microclimates in one space, therefore making it possible to grown a variety of herbs close together. The bottom, for example, will be damper than the top as water drains downwards, and there are patches that receive either full sun or partial shade. Thanks to a donation of old bricks from a friend of ours, construction came together fairly easily. I found this guide to building a herb spiral very useful.

As the community gradually gets back on its collective feet after our Covid outbreak, we are looking ahead to Holy Week and Easter. Rehearsals and choir practices for the various services are in the diary, and we are looking forward to welcoming guests back from this weekend. While no-one enjoyed Covid, we were all very blessed to see the Community at its best, caring for one another and keeping the place running as best we could. We continue to pray for all those still suffering as a result of Covid, as well as for the people of Ukraine and all who are affected by war and conflict. We pray too that we may all increasingly become people of peace.