Catch-up with our interfaith walk to Highbury Park

On Sunday 20th August over 25 people joined the annual Footsteps interfaith walk through Highbury Park and to the Orchard permaculture project.  We learnt about the the way in which increased rainfall and climate change are affecting habitats and bird populations.

Footsteps member Toqueer reflects on the day:

It was a beautiful day, sunshine, the quite breeze of the wind, a day for people of different faiths and no faith to come together. At 2pm in the afternoon we all met outside the Highbury car park, where a member of the Friends of Highbury Park, our guide Anne Gilbert were waiting for our adventure – and an adventure it sure was!

She explained to us all about the history of the park, we learnt how the park is owned by three trusts (one of them is Highbury trust) and how they all work together to conserve the park. As I walked, I could hear the parakeets – there were only two at first, however, we know there are as a many as 30 plus. We walked and were told about the various species of scrubs and trees.

I walked with the group ’till we reached the Highbury orchard, where we were led by Rhainnon, a member of the Orchard Friends group. She explained to us the purpose of the orchards, which involves volunteers and schools, including a special needs school where pupils benefit from planting. It was a wild, adventurous walk and we moved from a curvy footpath and saw the various fruits that where there, from blackcurrants to fruit trees. We stopped and sat down to have our break. Kindly, Ruth Tetlow, Footsteps president, shared home made cookies and juice.

We continued our adventure and walked along the paths to see the ponds; there were ducks and it was nice to hear from our guide, about plans to create a wetland. Due to high levels of rainfall over the years, some of the trees that need drier conditions have died; this is a result of climate change. It was great to see plans for adaptation and that Highbury park is thinking and planning for the future.

Coming to the end of our walk, we saw the fruit trees that were planted by the local Fruit and Nut project based in the Rea Valley. The benefits of planting these trees include supporting biodiversity, as well as being great for wildlife and humans. The volunteers during the pandemic watered the tress to ensure they survived, it was so amazing to see the efforts of the volunteers. Coming to the end of the adventure, it was a great learning experience for me, and lovely to meet people from other faiths.

As a Muslim who is passionate about interfaith work, I encourage people to meet with your neighbours from other faiths and come along to future walks with Footsteps. After all, every action is one footstep at a time.

A version of this reflection first appeared on Toqueer’s blog, where you can subscribe to hear more about his adventures into green actions and places in Birmingham.

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