Category Archives: Wildlife

So, so many of us

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.

 

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There was so much going on…

The last Taster Day felt like the community allotment is coming of age. There was lots to do, lots of generous helping hands to do it and plenty of chatter and food.

We had Freya and Tom help us with the grass mowing and the team cleared the prolific broad beans to give the gooseberry some breathing space. It will make lovely compost in months to come.

People kept on streaming in and the weather was becoming hotter and hotter so we decided to set up the compact gazebo and fold-able table which we purchased from the Essex Community Foundation grant. Great thanks to Tilly and her family for help with setting it up – good to have someone who knows what they are doing. The gazebo is of professional standard and will last us for a long time. Built in Britain so it will be easy to source parts if needed. We got it for exactly for this purpose – to protect us from the elements on the plot and events. The gazebo sheltered us from the scorching sun and wind this time but in Autumn when it rains intermittently it will be nice to have a dry spot to wait the worst out with a cup of tea.

Ines and Alex visited and told us more about the community theater workshops and the people’s choir. We will be working together to make use of the plot and maybe stage a play! I would love for us to have a play there, maybe in the evening with some candles and lampoons hanged on the trees and plenty of burning herbs to drive the mosquitoes away. To find out more about the work of the theater company see www.capataro.com.

Thanks to the grant we were also able to purchase some battery powered tools and Duncan was able to crack on with the fencing for the family plot and in no time erected a many of the required posts. The quality tools will enable us to speed up some of the DIY efforts and involve a greater number of people to learn how to use them and build confidence. Alex and Ines came forward to help with the wood work on the plot so we might see some construction work going on soon.

We had more visitors streaming in with Piotr and his family who brought tasty smoothies and cookies. The latter ones must have been very popular as they disappeared in no time. The kids played with the water and in between the beds and then we enjoyed the beautiful lunch.

Following lunch we explored the wilderness next to our patch. Some revelers from other plots must have cleared paths in the thick jungle and we went for a walk about. The ivy covered wild cheery trunks shooting straight up to the sky give an impression of tropic wilderness. There were deep holes dug up by foxes and birds enjoyed the thicket. It’s going to be a few more weeks and we will be able to gather the juicy black berries. At the moment we have to carefully navigate their branches growing in all directions and reaching out for us like greedy fingers.

We returned to the tasks and some of us chatted about life, community and projects.

See the pictures and come see us in two weeks time.

 

Team effort goes far… plot session 27/08/16

 

Re-invigorated by the cooler start to the day after the heat wave of late, Fiona, Jodi, Kamil and I keenly arrived at the plot first, to set up ready to welcome volunteers or visitors, there has been a steady flow of new faces and regular visitors this year and pleasingly today’s session followed this trend.

We were very happy to welcome four plot first timers (or first time I’ve seen them!), Councilor for Kursaal ward, Hellen Mcdonald, partner Jim, their friends Hellen and Aisha.  A more frequent visitor the plot recently Jason, a poetry collective member joined us just in time for Lunch, always great to hear Jason waxing lyrical on hot topics of mutual interest.

The work party helped turning over the raised beds to a fine tilth, as Jim says if the large clods are left to get sun baked they turn into brick hard.  I appreciated Jims collaboration to help with the next stage of the potting / tool storage structure build, namely creating the framework to support the roof sheets, these will also collect more rain water.

 

On a recent trip to Edinburgh we visited my Uncle who had kindly prepared dozens of cuttings from his beautiful ornamental, herbaceous garden.  Adding more diversity of plants to the plot not only looks pleasing but should encourage more varieties of insects and wildlife, a better balance means a healthier garden.

Such a hive of activity on the plot this time so much so we were all so ravenous come lunch time we even forgot to photo the wonderful feast , how sinful!  Alitja’s meditereanean gluten free pea pasta bake, some fresh toms from the plot, yum and to keep up the standards fiona had baked superb vegan chocolate brownies.
Re-energized we finished the day’s session by giving the plot a good drink before we went on our merry ways.

Taster Day 06/08/16 and Tamalpa Life Art Process

We arrived on the plot with a busy schedule in mind.

Duncan and Fiona were hard at work keeping the weeds under control who seem to be encroaching from each side of our remote plot. Oh yes, community allotment is not only glamour you see:). We had a discussion with Duncan on the pros and cons of a grass path vs a mulched path. Not sure we got that settled. What’s your preference and why?

Soon enough two visitors arrived and put themselves to the task of gathering black berries – free food forever!. W have not put one ounce of work towards the brambles and they still produced lots of lovely berries for us.

Even more visitors arrived and after a short chat and tea threw themselves into planting our two  apples trees. They will need plenty of watering in the coming weeks but we could not wait anymore as the pots were more likely to dry out then if we put them in the soil.

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Then came the turn for some composting – we filled the bins with garden green waste, covered with some used coffee grounds and watered them. Last Taster Day’s bins seem to be doing well with the materials slowly moving slower. I’d like to start up making somecomfrey tea to fertilize the beds but also as I found that the remaining sludge is a great compost activator so we could use it in the bins.

We took part in the http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/ and spent 15 min walking the allotments spotting butterflies. Some of us went old school and had print outs and some downloaded the app for the phone. No one felt an expert in recognizing butterflies but the materials were quite self explanatory and soon we were marking off first findings. In all honesty I don’t have much appreciation for the white butterflies especially after they found a hole in our brassica bed netting and their offspring devoured the plants but thinking of them as performing an important pollinator function helped me appreciate that nature is about relationships and that sometimes we get and sometimes we give. All in all we counted 26 butterflies and around 5-6 varieties (ie. large and small white, gatekeeper) as some of them were not willing to perch down for us to allow more accurate inspection.

Following a scrumptious lunch we set off on to the green for the Tamalpa workshop with Donna who kindly offered it to us prior to her trip to the states.

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We walked, we moved and swayed and sat and drew about our experiences. It felt great to connect in this way with our bodyscape in nature and hear from everyone about their experiences. It reminded me of the different ways of observing activity I tried during the Permaculture Design Course and how it helped me and others see our surroundings with new eyes and get fresh insights.

That’s it for now and see you on the 27/08 for the next Taster Day.

 

Upcoming Taster Days at the SiT community allotment

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Sun 10/07 10-14 – regular day with good company, food and learning new skills, bring your drill:). Lunch time planning for a network to start up projects helping communities unite in these unsettling times. FB event, please share.

Sun 24/07 10-14 Poetry on the Plot – featuring spoken word as we liked it a lot the last time around. FB event, please share.

Visit us to plant, catch the sun, grow, water, sit, enjoy, drink tea or just chat.

How you can help us grow:

  • donate tools (even if broken as we might be able to fix them)

  • donate seed

  • donate your time

How to find our little plot MAP

And a write up of one of the days at the plot.

26th June Taster Day Overview

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A beautiful day spent enjoying the sunshine and harvesting some of our produce.  The plot was buzzing with activity, with children watering every possible plant in sight and feeding them with coffee grouts.  A job much appreciated by the growing seeds and plants.

 

With the grass cut, hedges trimmed and seedlings planted where necessary, the energy was flowing as was the delightful conversation.  Due to the wonderful turn out of attendees many jobs were completed, including decorating our tools with SiT logos and bright adornments.

 

Of course no plot visit would be complete without some tasty food bought along by attendees and washed down with several cups of tea and coffee.  A fine end to all the hard work and a time to get to know each other a little more.  Blissful.

We look forward to seeing you at the next taster day on Sunday 10 July.

Saturday 12 March at a glance…

Our second official visit to the plot of 2016 saw us enjoying the first hints of Spring with the glow of warming sunshine accompanied by bird song – what a great start to the year!  The warmth enabled some to shed a layer of triple winter clothing as recycled wood was moved to the site ready for plans to create a performing stage in the near future and the addition of the first few bags of a large batch of shingles to the site ready for a team effort to transport the rest in the next week or so.

 

Totals from the day:

Present 6 adults and 4 children of which 1 new adults and 2 new children

Social action hours – prep 2, garden 13,

Produce – approx. 0.3kg of 1 variety

Calories burnt 2600 cal:)

The theme of the day was to test the pH balance of the soil so that we can gain a better understanding of its changes over time and gauge its current levels.  Our youngest plot supporter, Nella, was on hand to help oversee everyone and make sure that the soil testing was going to plan ;0)

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We used a pH testing prong as well as took soil samples in jars from various areas and combined these with water ready for testing.  The children were extremely helpful in gathering these samples and labelling them accordingly, but were also specialist in discovering the woodlouse kingdom lurking beneath a slab.  Well done guys!

 

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Duncan also tested his drone in order to get some aerial shots of the plot, although the batteries failed us on this occasion but show that we can blend tradition with modern technology!

 

 

The first seeds of the season (basil and rocket) were planted in the greenhouse and accompany the bed planted horseradish, all of which were generously watered by the younger helpers.  A spot of weeding and tidying around the plot saw the days work nearing to an end, with the children enjoying a game of swingball before sitting down to enjoy a nice cuppa and the delicious food brought along by attendees to share which included buckwheat and roasted veg salad (Alicja’s masterpiece) and fruit and nut cake (Duncan’s delight).

 

 

Our friends at the the Allotment Society trading hut would also like to share some of their fine produce with you, as pictured below.

 

 

Our next session at the plot is Saturday 26th of March 10:00 – 14:00. Exciting things planned

10:30 Easter Egg Hunt

11:00 Seed Swap

12:45 lunch

13:15 Seed Bomb Making

We look forward to seeing you there.