So what did we achieve :)? Fiona and Lea set out the tables with goodies and welcomed our visitors. Lea took a million photos of us and nature to cherish, Duncan, James and Edward cracked on with the wood store, Gaynor, Heather, Lea, Kacper, Michaela and more friends weeded bed after bed after bed, Kamil started sorting our storage and cleaning up. We enjoyed a beautiful meal, Fiona and Alicja made it a special occasion. Kids being kids enjoyed each other and played while also getting stuck in here and there. Iwona took on a plot next door and popped in with her family. Overall we had 18 people, 6 plot sign ups and my step counter showed 23k steps. Not bad in a days work 😊
On Sunday it was lovely to see friends from before the pandemic. The little one helped us empty the pond for the dishes and plants enjoyed the nutrient dense water. We swapped seeds and stories. Ed came on board and cleared the remaining prunings and planted our artichokes so they can continue to bless us into the coming year🙏😉. Good conversations about wellbeing, health and importance of pacing. Kamil continued with the sort out, clear out. Bridget and her friend came not long after and helped clear the perennial kale bed and stayed on to feed them with the compost tea. Oh what brave souls 😍🙏
Bridget did an interview for her research related to sustainable food systems.
We could not do this without everyone’s help making the plot accessible to everyone
An update from the Open day and follow up visits. Tilly took care of the rhubarb bed, nice to see it again and potted up 10 plus for give aways and donations. Demanding job but satisfying indeed
The plot is looking lush and abundant while tranquil thanks to so many people helping to create this space.
Shaun brought his hand drawn map of the allotments part of his art project and got involved with Clive in preparing the wood for the pergolas. They will give us vertical growing spaces and a pleasant feature to the plot.
Duncan did his mid season check on the grape vine by pruning it to encourage fruit growth.
Kath in turn helped us to experiment with the green cuttings and applied rooting gel and potted them up.m
Mia watered some of the plants and herded some snails.
Susan and Susan popped in for a chat, a nit of inspiration and some tips.
A few days later I planted runner beans , courgettes, climbing beans, potatoes, perennial onion and leeks. Strawberries are ripening as well so good time to visit
Interested? Join us on the 10th and 24th Sat 10-14 😊
We did have our doubts about starting up Taster Days in Jan and Feb but the weather and people were very kind to us. The weather kept its worst face hidden away giving us good and even glorious days like today to get on with the work and the joy of meeting together. People seemed hungry to start up the plot days and turned up in great numbers despite the chill of the first two days. Those who came today felt the sun take care of them as if it was Spring already.
Tony from the Youth Offending Team was the first to arrive today to introduce himself and tell us about the community allotments being started up in Norwich Avenue allotments site. They are there every Tue 9-12 and if you see a big Connexions van then you are certain they are there. Sounds like an ambitious project and we will make a visit to them as well. There are a number of plots in this area now moving us towards the dream of having a community allotment on each big allotment site and in every residents walking distance. Only in this area we have the St Lukes Community Allotment, Eastern Avenue Figure of Eight allotments and now Norwich Avenue joins the ranks. Great! Tony enjoyed and we will be support each other in developing our sites.
Then came Janice and did not shy away from the wheelbarrow and heavy soil to fill in some holes in the paths and then started working with Nella on weeding the strawberry patch. It is great to see the little on developing confidence and skill and you could hear her tiny voice asking “this one?” when picking out weeds from among the strawberries.
Fiona whizzed around with the cordless sander (courtesy of the Essex Community Foundation grant) preparing the shed surface for the layers of paint we hope to get from the kind folk at Homebase.
We put on the storm kettle to heat up the soup prepared for Alicja and had some fun with keeping the fire going and drawing using the burned sticks.
The lunch was gorgeous as usual – thank you Fiona for the bread and Alicja for the soups. Dessert was bread with slow gin jam or Hamstel Road honey bought from the Trade Hut. Flushed down with plenty of coffee and tea.
Vanessa visited us to chat about gardening and we exchanged gardening tips and tricks.
I continued digging up soil from our neighbors compost heap as they kindly agreed for us to use it for our hungry raised beds. A few more sessions and we will have them ready for planting.
Fiona was preparing the strawberry saplings and seeds for the Seed Share next week and we have closed the day very happy with a little sunburn.
Last weekend we surprised ourselves with the abundance of produce and friends who came to the plot.
Before we started feasting though we cracked on with removing dead grass, Duncan combed the grass with lots of determination and I swear I could hear the grass having a sigh of relief having lost bushels of dead hay. Later on Duncan went off with the new strimmer and was very impressed with its efficiency. One day when we have more volunteers than work we will go back to the manual tools but for the sake of efficiency we are resorting to battery powered tools.
Sarah started work on potting up the strawberry runners using some of our very own compost. Last year we must have had around 50 and they were quickly gone to friends gardens. Can we make 100 this year and get some donations to help us buy materials as needed? Remember to give your strawberries a haircut this time of year to remove dead leaves and the roots will spring new leafs before winter still. Give the plants space even foot wide to let the plant have a chance to deliver on its fruiting potential and not fight off other strawberries. With runners when you pot them cut the leaves off if there are too many. The root might dry out otherwise if the leaves have to transpire too much moisture.
Fiona painted signs for the allotment so it will be easier for prospective plot holders to get hold of the contact details of the main site society and also smaller signs for us so people can get to use easier.
We delivered lots of wood which will be used to build a pergola over the storage area which can be used for climbers such as our favourite (!) shark fin melon or an actual favourite which is the grape.
The families kept on streaming in and while some of us measured the plots to be able to create designs for the orchard and family plot others prepared the gazebo, tables and food and of course harvested the food.
We had our very own cherry tomatoes, welsh onion greens, grapes (10kg), courgettes, gem squashes, corn, kale, donated aubergines and cucumbers and anything else I might have missed. There was food a plenty and we rested while chatting.
Kids played and ate and played, it was a joy to see everyone relaxed and entertained.
At the end Piotr and his daughter offered us a gong bath which everyone enjoyed after a tiring but wonderful day. The vibration took everyone on a journey of relaxation and although only short everyone looked refreshed. Amazing what different interests and skills get brought and shared at the plot. Here’s to more surprises.
And some lovely comments from everyone:
Thanks for coming today. Please let me know how it was for you and I will include your feedback in the next blog post. It will help us and others understand the impact the project is making. It could be a word/sentence/ picture or paragraph describing yours or your child’s experience. As an example but not to limit you: What Connections have you made, what did you Learn, what did you Notice, what Physical Activity did you do or what did you Give to others of the project. Cheers and see you again.
food, chat, friends and fun outdoor play for the children
Nice to meet friendly people, lovely food, great playing opportunity for Samantha. She had loads of fun in the family plot with all the toys and play kitchen. And yes, grapes! Oh, and I learned about bananas being used to encourage tomatoes to ripen!
I enjoyed how my sense of well-being changed as I intermingled with gentle people. The sharing of each others food really resonated with me, eating, laughing, sharing and talking outside of your comfort zone has a positive impact on your mental health. To see people coming together to grow, dig and share their knowledge reminds me that I’m not alone in wanting a better future for me and my family. Thank you SIT for providing that
Great weather, plot of land and plenty of helpers made for a splendid open day. People were pouring in and finding ways to get themselves involved. It is nice when newcomers build confidence and over time feel like they can and want to help out on the plot. It is not a requirement as we enjoy having people for just company but the place is at its most therapeutic when one gets lost in as simple an activity as weeding, watering, thinning or compost making.
The kids played in the shade, on the water table and explored the allotments but I think they will remember the water balloons most:) and so will everyone who got splashed.
The gazebo was again blessing us with its shade and it is certainly hard to miss us from a distance now.
Me and Duncan went back to my base to pick up the scaffolding boards we had been kindly donated by LAB Scaffolding 01702535265. By the time came back the hungry folk were stuck in lunch and enjoyed the potato salad and everything else that was brought in.
Ines and Alex signed their souls away…ahem… signed the health and safety note and were going to use their advanced woodworking skills to get the work started on the raised beds on the family plot. We were thinking and dreaming of that plot and its design for months now so to see it actually happening is very satisfying. The tools we bought from the Essex Foundation grant will help us accomplish the work quickly and give man and women a level playing field in working with the scaffolding boards.
See you Sunday the 23rd 10-14 for another open day. Bring yourself, friends for a jolly time. If you want make or bring some food for sharing but most important just give yourself the permission to feel better about the place and community you live in and look after the body given to you by nature.
Some late pictures from a wonderful day on the plot. Thanks to LAB scaffolding for the donated boards. Planted potatoes and flowers in the new beds on the family plot under the watchful eye of Duncan working on the heights of the shed.
Southend in Transition supports the development of resilient and thriving communities and believes that local residents have the skills and talents needed for the big challenges and opportunities ahead.
A perfect example of an organization enabling people to utilize their talents is Southend Time Bank. It allows local people to offer their skills to others and get 1 time credit for 1 hour of their time. In an exchange you can use your credits to request a skill from another time bank member. Tens, hundreds and thousands of exchanges of skills between strangers are happening daily around the globe without money made easy by time banks.
What better then for Southend in Transition to join the Southend Time Bank so that our volunteers’ hours could be transformed into credits?
We can use credits as individuals, they can be used by our organisation to request help with our projects from the time bank members or we could donate hours to other groups and individuals in need.
You might ask how does it differ from regular volunteering? As people offer their skills on an hour by hour basis it might be easier for them to contribute as a one off or here and there rather then have to commit to regular help. It creates new connections between people who would not normally have a chance of interact which builds social capital in our community. It adds value to the volunteering and recognition of the effort people put in in helping others without monetizing people caring and sharing activity.
With lots of skills on offer from DIY to computers we sent a few messages and got Pepe messaging back offering his DIY and gardening skills. There is always a lot to do on the plot to maintain it and another willing pair of hands is very welcome.
Pepe visited the plot for an initial chat and returned twice so far to help with the weeding, planting and digging of the plot for which his account was credited with time credits. He has a wealth of other skills and we will find ways to utilize them as well in the coming months.
It was great to meet and chat about community matters while getting our hands dirty and Pepe commented that the exchange helped him get to know another part of the community which he would otherwise not know about.
With our volunteers signing to the local time bank we are looking forward to more exchanges and to get to know the other members of our time bank.
Get in touch with Emily at SAVS if you wanted to find out more or you can do it online. Signing up is as simple as going onto this page, click on the Become a Member button on the left side, completed your contact details and details of two people willing to supply character references. Once they are processed you are in the game of creating a resilient and thriving community one hour at a time.
Cheers to many surprising meetings of strangers no-more.