The Stour is the river that flows through Canterbury in different channels, including this one, from which L’Arche Kent draws the water for its garden project. When I looked at the photo on a large screen I almost discarded it as it shows more of the flats opposite than the river. But the river is healthy, as the weed shows, and this is confirmed by a survey a friend took part in, counting the different micro-organisms at various sites along the river.
It was not always that way. In the 19th Century Ashford’s sewage went into the river, not good for Canterbury or the schools built near the river (in those days, going downstream, St Mary’s, St Thomas’, and St Peter’s). But Canterbury tossed in sewage as well, and worse: opposite us here, where the flats now are, was the tannery, source of industrial pollution.
That has gone, the river is clean enough for trout and eels to thrive; we’ve seen both on this stretch. This would not have happened without dedicated and focused hard work, continuing to this day with the Our Stour project.
One way to help is to use water wisely; Our Stour provide some good advice for gardeners. This is part of our responsibility as stewards of creation, something to consider in this season of Creation proclaimed by Patriarch Bartholomew and Pope Francis.