Category Archives: Our community allotment

BHOGG’s Starter Bed scheme at Weald Allotment site

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We are pleased to confirm that the Organic Starter Bed scheme operating at the Weald Allotment site has the green light from the Allotment team at B&HCC to continue in 2019. Read on to find out more about what the scheme is and why it has been so successful

In 2014 the Organic Gardening Group (BHOGG) worked in cooperation with the City Council’s Allotment officer to pioneer a project enabling 6-8 people on the Weald allotment waiting list to spend a year cultivating a “starter bed” and gardening on the organic community allotment. The scheme has been in place ever since, with great outcomes from a survey of users covering the period 2015-2018.

24 people were involved and responses were received from 16 with all 16 rating the scheme at “very good” on a scale of ‘very bad’ to ‘very good’. What participants loved: hands-on gardening experience outdoors, use of equipment, learning from each other and access to a breadth of gardening knowledge, sense of community engendering friendships and sociability.

All participants believed that the scheme helped them prepare effective for their own allotment or to continue as a volunteer on the community allotment to gain further experience. As one grower noted:

“It’s been really useful for learning what crops I would like to grow, how much work will be involved and what size Allotment might be manageable for me”

Of 14 people who have gone on to have their own allotments, 12 have successfully cultivated their allotments and we only know of 2 people who have given up. This appears to be a very low drop out rate compared to the allotment strategy figures for allotment holders generally.

There were no notable problems reported, and in fact participants suggest that more sessions and communal events be held. Unexpected benefits were reported, such as the impact of the plot on wellbeing for volunteers:

“Although I joined BHOGG to learn about organic gardening, I found it also had massive benefits for my mental health (I suffer from anxiety). The effect of going once a week has been very noticeable I i.e. I notice a change in my mood if I don’t go”.

In conclusion, there seems to be much to recommend this scheme, and support from B&HCC and from sponsors Infinity Food have made the project possible. It would be great to offer the scheme to a larger number of people and on other allotment sites.

“In my view the project is a wonderful community enhancing, educational and healthy living inspiring network and activity. People are helpful to each other, there is a good balance of personal accountability and group responsibility, co-ordination is brilliant despite that task being obviously akin to herding cats. I have personally enjoyed making new friends, the fresh air and exercise and feeling much more prepared for my own allotment when that time comes.”

If you are interested in becoming involved in the scheme, offering some volunteer time on the BHOGG Weald plots or in helping support the work of BHOGG generally, please do get in touch with us.  You can read Alan’s full starter bed scheme report here.

A round up of what’s happening @ Seedy Sunday, 3rd February

Seedy Sunday is less than a month away! Here’s a summary of what’s happening on the 3rd of February.

Venue: BHASVIC, 205 Dyke Rd, Hove, BN3 6EG. £3 entry, kids free!

The Seed Swap

At the heart of Seedy Sunday is the giant seed swap table. Bring seeds to swap saved from last year’s crops. Seed saving experts and gardeners will be on hand to offer all the advice you need to choose and grow your seeds. You can collect Seedy Sunday envelopes from Infinity Foods in Brighton.

No seeds to swap? Simply make a 50p donation at the seed table. We have already prepared over 2500 packets of seeds to get us started on the day!

Learn something new with a diverse range of speakers and talks

This year we have herbalists, gardeners, authors, university lecturers, and an international NGO speaking about weeds as medicine, wildlife gardening, sustainable food production, and pesticides.

We are also hosting a Local Gardeners’ Question Time featuring:

Joshua the Gardener – after the popularity of his ‘no dig’ talk last year and the queue of people waiting to ask him questions, we are delighted to have Joshua join the panel.  He has lots of advice to share about no dig gardening, organic gardening and design.

Chris Smith from Pennard Plants – another Seedy Sunday favourite. Pennard plants specialise in heritage and heirloom seeds and Chris is a gold medal Chelsea flower show winner, accomplished speaker and potato expert.

Ros Loftin is our seed saving expert and is the heart and soul of the seed swap since 2012.  A trained horticulturist, she has been saving seeds for the past 10 years, and each year brings between 20-30 different varieties of open-pollinated heritage tomatoes to swap on the seed table.

The panel with be chaired by our very own Alan Phillips!  He has been involved with Seedy Sunday since the beginning (back in 2002!), including serving 5 years as the Chair.  He is an integral part of Brighton & Hove’s vibrant organic gardening community, providing expert advice to many novice organic gardeners on our Community allotment.

A world of discovery in the Market Place

Visit more than 50 stalls from specialist growers, seed merchants, charities and community groups and more.

Children’s activities galore!

As ever we have some fun and inspiring activities for children and their parents or caregivers. Making decorations, planting seeds and discovering how to make an ‘ecobrick’ from plastic waste, there’ll be plenty to keep young people interested on the day.

Infinity Foods and Cafe

A special thanks to Infinity Foods who generously sponsor us every year, display our posters and give away our seed envelopes in their shop on North Road, Brighton.  They run a fantastic stall on the day selling organic seed potatoes, and the award winning Infinity Cafe will be upstairs to serve teas, coffees, cakes and lunches.

Be inspired for the gardening year at Seedy Sunday!

Our community allotment: The allotment in the community

In addition to the wonderful Sunday sessions at our Weald Plot, we enjoy inviting vulnerable groups and healthy volunteers to our community allotment.

Friday 22 June was a fabulous day when 16 students and teachers came from Hurstpierpoint school and rebuilt some of our beds, moved a large raised bed and reconstructed our large wooden containers that had rotted down with the compost. Thanks especially to Steve and Alan for transporting the wood and clearing the rubbish, and all those who helped on the day Phillipa, Barbara, Pete, Andre and Paul.

A-H

If any groups (especially vulnerable groups) would like to come to our community allotment please send us an email info@bhogg.org.

Solstice Pick & Cook with Caroline

Those long sweet summer days have arrived; we enjoyed one of those on 24 June when we celebrated the summer solstice on the Community Allotment. It was too hot for most people to do any gardening, so chilling out, chatting, drinking Sarah’s cool, homemade, elderflower pressé and the fabulous food prepared by the evergreen Caroline.

 

Caroline was excellent as ever, working hard and chatting sociably with everyone as she cooked delicious food.  It was difficult to find seasonal food on site for cooking in June but Caroline rustled up a feast seemingly out of nothing.

Gorgeous vegetable pakoras and frittatas, garlic bread, salad with nasturtiums and home baked treats were the reward for the hard working gardeners (Jenni and Steve mainly!)on a beautiful summer’s afternoon.

 

Review by Jenni and Alan

SAVE THE DATE: Sunday 24th June. Solstice Pick & Cook with Caroline Whiteman

We are delighted to have Caroline Whiteman from Brighton & Hove Food Partnership come along and cook for us using fresh ingredients from our community allotment.

Come and enjoy some tasty bites made using seasonal produce grown on the plot. Vegan and gluten free options will be available.  Please bring a plate to share as the seasonal cooking will just be a small taster for attendees.

11am at The Weald allotment site.  Find us at plots 238 & 239 at the Weald Allotments, Neville Avenue, Hove, BN3 7NA

Our annual seedling swap Sunday 6th May

Our annual Seedling Swap is taking place this year on the Organic Community Allotments at the Weald allotment sites (238 & 239) on Sunday 6th May between 11 am and 12.15pm.

We will then have our own picnic lunch in the peaceful setting of the Community allotment – as ever please bring a delicious contribution! It’s a chance to see our three beautiful community allotments cultivated by over 20 regular volunteers.  The seedling swap is for members only, and we need you to bring along any seedlings to swap – any leftovers will be found a good home and bed! Those who have little or nothing to swap should make a donation to BHOGG.

If you need to drop off plants by car, the Weald Allotment site can be located just off the Old Shoreham Road on Weald Avenue, BN3 7JN.  Once through the gates turn right and follow the lane East and North to drop off your plants. The lane is too narrow to cope with parking so please park either in the small central car park or outside the site.

In previous years we have had a great time with the chance to chat to over 30 of us. Fingers crossed for glorious weather as well as great company! If there is rain we have a polytunnel to retreat into, where it will be warm and cosy!

 

Volunteering at our community allotment: INTO transforms our south plot

A lot of great things have been happening at our Organic Community Allotment this spring.  A group of seventeen staff members from INTO marketing department joined us on April 4th, as a day for working in the Community and for Team-building.  The photos show some of their hard work that has helped transform the newest of our three allotments.

Every year, INTO helps thousands of young people from around the world to study at a leading university working together with university partners, providing specialist degrees and pathway programmes.

If you would like to get involved  come along on Sundays (11am – 1pm). Efforts are rewarded with a share of whatever produce is available and this allotment is very productive. Come and visit!

Winter at the allotment

Things have been pretty quiet on the allotment over the winter.  Still some hardy souls come along regularly enjoy the peace and tranquillity at the site. And we were treated with some spectacular scenes with the snow.

A gale-force rainy day compelled us to relocate our annual outdoor Winter Solstice celebration to the warmth and comfort of Alan’s house.  Mulled wine was sipped, delicious soup and cakes were consumed and carols were sung while the rain pelted the window.

CakeXmas

Now spring is here we are looking forward to the regular Sunday sessions 11-1pm at the Weald Allotment site.  For more details about how to get there click here.

 

Growing, Gluts and Generosity

Kate Harrison’s talk on Growing, Gluts and Generosity posed some interesting questions around what we as gardeners can do to take responsibility for our own food production. We discussed sowing less, sowing successively, thinning out more boldly, choosing varieties with longer harvest seasons, or growing multiple varieties to stagger production. But despite these ideas, we will still be likely to have gluts during the year. Solutions to this could be inventive recipes, food fermentation (see Kate’s fermenting article from last month), gifting to friends & family or even composting.

There were some shocking figures around food waste, yet 8.4 million people in the UK struggle to afford a meal (source: Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations).

Fareshare, Food waste in the UK statistics, WRAP

Fortunately, many charities and organisations are working to ensure that the food waste meets the needs of those most vulnerable people struggling to afford to eat. FareShare (a national organisation) manages just 4% of the edible surplus food available, distributing food donated by supermarkets and food producers to frontline charities and community groups. Last year they provided enough food for nearly 25.8 million meals!

How FareShare Works

FareShare Sussex Impact

FareShare Sussex is based in Fairway Business Centre, Westergate Road in Moulsecoomb and is very happy to receive food donations from individuals.  This means for those months when you’re grown too much there is another option: you can bag it up and drop it off to the warehouse where volunteers and staff will be genuinely glad to see you.  Our community allotment volunteers delivered over a ton of apples to Fareshare in 2017.

To ensure your surplus stock is put to the best possible use, please contact:

Rachel Carless, FareShare Sussex Development Manager
Email: rachel@faresharesussex.org.uk
Tel: 01273 671 111

Review by Jenni, and special thanks to Kate Harrison for use of her FareShare slides.