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Community Earth Project – Background

One of the ongoing conversations during this summer’s highly successful Community Earth Festival collaboration between the Esk Valley and East Cleveland was how we might create a ‘legacy project’. The idea was that something tangible and lasting might emerge from the festival that would continue to develop links between Loftus and Esk Valley, while doing something for nature recovery, climate change action and community wellbeing.


Having collected a mailing list of local people interested in such a project, the Community Earth Festival organisers held a public meeting in Danby Village Hall on Saturday 16 September. It was heartening to see over 30 people willing to give up their Saturday afternoon and join the proceedings.


The steering group presented four possible areas of activity going forward:

1    The River Esk – Besides, connecting many of us, our little river also highlights many of the wider environmental challenges in our area. Could we dedicate ourselves to clean up projects, public information campaigns, and possible public access projects?


2    A nature restoration project – Could the local community, secure a piece of land (by lease or purchase), for the purpose of creating a ‘rewilding’ showcase project in the area? This could also be a project across a mosaic of smaller plots of lands (such as the ARK movement –


3    A local food production project – Could the local community secure a piece of land to promote local food production? (Possibly in conjunction with point 2). Part of this could be a social, cultural and educational aspect.


4    A local community ‘Earth hub’ – Could the local community use or create a building, which could form a focal point for environmental work in the area? Such a hub could include an organic café; environmental awareness (talks, courses, films); environmental projects involving children / disadvantaged people; wellness therapies; or showcasing experimental agricultural and energy projects.


There followed a wide-ranging and positive conversation, during which it became clear that there could be interest in any of these directions, or possibly a combination of them.


Marshall Best (Loftus ACCORD Walking Group), who chaired the meeting, proposed that we also consider whether a Nature Recovery Project in the Esk Valley could be a a stepping stone for a regional objective or series of objectives. For example, Loftus already has ‘Walkers are Welcome’ accreditation (one of 100 towns/villages in the UK making areas attractive to walkers to visit and enjoy) – could the Esk Valley acquire similar status? Could parts of East Cleveland become an AONB or extension of the NYMNP (Glover Report)? Could the region aim to qualify as a Unesco Biosphere (like Newton Stewart, gateway town to the Galloway Hills, with its annual walking festival etc)?


A number of people stepped up to join the Steering Group. It will meet in October to reflect on what the next steps might be and arrange a meeting with representatives of the National Park, who are eager to engage with the initiative. A follow-up public meeting will be arranged, at which we hope to present more concrete proposals.


Community Earth Project Steering Group


If you wish to be kept up to date with developments in the project, please email:

Eddie Thornton at

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