Woodgreen Calendar 2019

by Steve, Bill and David (the Calendar Boys)

Every year, about February time, we gather together and wonder what theme we can adopt to make the following year’s calendar special. It gets more and more difficult coming up with something new every year!

For the 2019 calendar, we decided to highlight our collective good fortune in the number and beauty of our local footpaths. Each month, the calendar features a walk of between 1.5 and 5 miles. There are over 50 stunning photographs showing some of the sights you may see along the routes.

We’ve been on all the walks ourselves, sometimes on several occasions. David has almost succumbed to ‘trench foot’ he’s had wet feet so often and Bill has camped at some of the key photographic locations waiting for the right light, heather colour, or donkey orientation! We’ve also dragged friends and family out there to walk backwards and forwards across the scene for some scale and additional photographic interest.

Of course, there’s not a lot of space on a calendar for maps and walking directions, and you can’t really take it out on a walk with you! So, the calendar is supported by its own website with full route directions and detailed maps including links to Google Maps so you can navigate directly from your phone!

Let us know how you get on. And, if you take any photos, or have any other route suggestions, please send them along and we’ll put them on the ‘walks’ website.

What makes the perfect village shop?

Hampshire Life‘ wanted to know what makes the perfect village shop and, of course, they came to us for some advice!

“Woodgreen Community Shop, in the New Forest’s north-western corner, was reborn from the old commercial village store. When closure was imminent, with help from The Plunkett Foundation, the village set up the Woodgreen Community Shop Association at the end of 2006 and took over its running. This was followed by four years of intensive fundraising efforts along with grant applications which led to the Shop moving into purpose-built premises in 2011 (on a site owned by the Parish Council).

Julie Bottone, one of two part-time managers, attributes the shop’s success to community engagement and research: “When we started we did a tremendous amount of research. We found a lot of village shops focused on high end goods, but had no basics such as baked beans and loo rolls. We wanted our shop to reflect the needs of our customers, encompassing cheaper, mid-range and high-end products. This is a useful shop; people don’t come here simply because they feel obliged to support it. We are really careful with buying and pricing. You can’t compete with supermarkets on price so we don’t, although essential items like milk, eggs and butter are all reasonable.

“As part of our lottery grant we had to source 15% of our produce locally, but that is nearer 30% now with around 50 local suppliers as food miles and provenance are important to people.”

David Mussell and Julie Bottone of Woodgreen Community Shop

David Mussell, one of the shop’s committee members continues: “We sell huge amounts of meat as the New Forest is brilliant for beef, pannage pork and venison.” Suppliers include local Hale Pig and Poultry and Jack’s Jacobs (and pigs) grazing in the field behind the shop.

They continue to listen to customers. David explains how they undertook a huge survey two years ago and arranged focus groups “around the kitchen table” – taking on board many of the findings. Similarly, popular tasting evenings scoring local beers, gins and wines provide valuable feedback as well an opportunity for a village get-together. Initiatives encompass a newsletter, loyalty card scheme which gives back thousands to the community, deliveries to the immobile and events such as an annual Christmas evening that’s become a village tradition.

Services include the post office, although as David explains: “The Post Office makes a loss; always has; always will. So, the shop subsidises the Post Office, however the Post Office brings people into the shop.”

Other services are less tangible. Julie again: “We have an elderly population who come in every day – it’s a real hub for them. They like to come and chat and that’s important.”

History and Information Kiosk

Woodgreen’s new ‘History and Information’ kiosk was officially opened on 13th October. Our Parish Council bought the old telephone box from BT (for £1!) when it was threatened with demolition and have funded its renovation and reinvention.

Many of the stories and photos that appeared in the Shop’s 2017 ‘history’ calendar are now featured in greater detail in the revamped phone box. Pop in and have a look!

Even in the phone box, there is limited space to do justice to the rich history of our area. So, we’ve put a website together to provide a more comprehensive and permanent archive for all the information we gathered when researching the 2017 calendar:

history.woodgreenshop.org

It follows the same completely arbitrary subject order as the original calendar and has extra items that didn’t make the final cut! If you have a story or photo to add, either to the archive or to display in the phone box, drop us an email.

It’s a Party!

Our latest tasting event takes place on the 2nd November. There’ll be wines, beers, whiskies and shots to sample. We’ll have sharing hampers on every table and hot pies and goat curry(!) to try. Tickets on sale now. Don’t miss out – these are popular events and tickets are limited!