Fullarton Connexions is the latest development of Fullarton Parish Church (Church of Scotland), originally built in 1838 as a Chapel of Ease to serve the growing harbourside population in Irvine. The buildings have been extensively renovated and remodelled to serve both the church and the wider community. Such has been the success of the project that the church decided to buy a triangular patch of woodland to the north of the site for a possible future phase of development, but in the meantime for use as a car-park extension.
A member of the church volunteers with the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), who are the lead agency for the Irvine to Girvan Nectar Network, working with landowners to try to create a pollinator-friendly corridor for 50 miles down the Ayrshire coast. The church and SWT agreed to work together on a habitat creation project. The land had been partially cleared and surfaced for the car park, leaving 3 banks of earth around the plot, which rapidly became colonised with nettles, brambles and sticky-willy. The earth banks looked ideal for development to include bee hotels to provide suitable habitat for solitary bees and other insects, habitat which is in short supply around our towns.
SWT volunteers cleared some of the more aggressive plants from the banking and constructed two bee/bug hotel structures, which were subsequently filled by children from the church. The materials used came from local SWT reserves and from the site. An inventory was taken of the flowering plants growing in the area, including some sown earlier. More wildflower seeds were collected from around the parish and sown on the banks and surrounding area, again by the children.
The project draws favourable comments and interest from church members and visitors alike. The remaining woodland has been used as an outdoor classroom and is regarded as an asset to the congregation and a contribution to the Nectar Network. We hope it will raise awareness of the need for wild habitat and provoke thought about our place in creation and our obligations to be responsible stewards of what God has entrusted to us.