We had a fruitful summer at the allotment. A bumper harvest meant that we were able to pick and donate over a ton of local, organic apples to Fareshare, who distribute food to vulnerable groups in Sussex. A vital organisation ideally suited to distributing gluts of produce.
Fungal Forage in the Forest: An autumn foraging workshop with Vera Zakharov
Sun Oct 15th 12-3 Stanmer Park
We will wander with Vera in the woods. She will show us which fungi are ok to pick, and which are not. Whether they are poisonous or whether they are part of a fragile ecological web needing to be conserved, not disturbed.
Meet at Stamner house. Wear study shoes bring a mac and picnic.
Our friends Finca Slow produce amazing olive oil from their heritage organic trees, which were bought as part of a derelive grove and are being renovated under permaculture principles.
Sue, a member of Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group who went to stay at the grove, says “The olive oil is superb, especially the one from the heritage trees. This is because they pick some olives green, when the taste is great but there is less oil, and blend it with those picked fully ripe when the taste is less good but they produce more oil…I’ve given some of these heritage packs for Christmas presents and they’ve gone down really well!”
Finca Slow are visiting Brighton at the moment and are hoping to establish us as a bit of a hub, so if you’re interested in buying delicious, sustainably produced olive oil as a gift – even for yourself! – please contact us.
Here’s what’s happening right now on our allotment: thanks so much to the Princes Trust volunteers!
You can read the full story here, over on the City College website.
Did you know that 15 – 21 November is Brighton Time to Act week?
Our friends over at Brighton CAN (Climate Action Network) are organising an amazing line up of events, including a special climate change -themed Allotment Sunday with us on the 22nd November between 11am and 1pm.
The network campaigns for divestment from polluting industries, the creation of a million climate jobs, against fracking and the continued burning of fossil fuels, and for the expansion of renewable energy, energy conservation, cheap and environmentally clean public transport, and a better and safer urban environment for cyclists and walkers.
We hope to see you on the 22nd… if you want to find out more about the events or the Climate Action Network, pop along to their information stall at the Jubilee Library from 12 – 18 November, or visit their website to find out where you can watch a film, make a flag, enjoy a pint or even cycle to Paris!
Roundup from the annual Autumn Feast (as reported by Ruth)
Autumn’s darkening nights and misty mornings are always a good time to chat about the year in the fruit and vegetable garden so ten of us got together for a natter and to enjoy the rhubarb wine..
We agreed it had been a cold and windy year; too cold and dry in spring and too cold and wet in summer, so lots of crops just sulked. That said, there was a lot of variation depending on location – shelter from wind is a big factor, especially with fruit and climbing beans.
A raspberry variety called Tulameen got a big thumbs up for flavour! In general though, fruit was rather disappointing, due mainly to the cold windy weather at blossom time.
Ruth had a great cherry crop but as usual lost most of it to magpies that seem able to defeat all types of protection!There was the aforementioned excellent rhubarb wine too…[hic]
In terms of veg: spuds did well, as did some onions. White-rot was a big problem in places, although early harvesting before the rains came seemed to have been a good strategy and for garlic too. As a side note: If you did get rot, avoid using that bed for alliums for five years – there’s more info about white rot here.
Sue got great carrots in a large sunny window-box. and there were reasonable beetroots and parsnips. There was a shout-out to Brassicas, which did well where properly protected from their numerous pests. We all agreed, ‘Enviromesh’ works best…
Ruth’s summer broccoli [calabrese] was wonderfully prolific and she declared that she’d grownthe best red cabbages ever. Lots of people reported that sweetcorn was a bit underwhelming, and squash was useless but courgettes good (aren’t they always?!).
There was even some success with cucumbers and protected tomatoes, but of course, ripening was very delayed by the lack of our summer sun..
A great time was had by all, and it was really useful to get together and share our successes and failings – we live and learn for another season.
If you’re a new gardener, don’t lose heart – it’s always a learning curve, and something will always go right. What’s gone well for you this year?
…well, unless you’re a die-hard picnicker, that is!
Sunday September 20th sees in the Autumn Equinox, and to celebrate we’ll be saving seeds and picnicking with highly acclaimed cook Caroline from the Brighton Food Partnership, who’ll see what she can make from our crops.
Come along to our organic gardeners’ allotment plot from 11am til 2pm to prepare for autumn as well as setting aside the best of the seeds for next year.
As if you needed another reason to get gardening, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
According to an article published on the Express newspaper website, experts are now advising British doctors to prescribe gardening to alleviate conditions such as dementia, stress and high blood pressure.
These “green prescriptions” as they are known, are also being advocated by various charities and healthcare organisations, as well as GPs themselves.
Of course, it’s not the first time that gardening has been linked to good health. Locally, The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership champion the benefits of getting out into the garden, and have had very promising feedback from volunteers about their experiences. The partnership also point to a number of scientific studies which demonstrate the benefits of gardening and community food growing for both mental and physical health.
As well as this, Brighton and Hove City Council have carried out surveys as part of the Allotment Strategy 2014-2024, which aims to make allotments enjoyable, inclusive, sustainable and affordable for the people of Brighton & Hove. Those answering the plot holders survey were asked to rate their overall health. The same question was asked in the 2012 health counts survey:
From these results, we can see that generally allotmenteers say they have better health compared with the general population.
“It would not be possible for me to put a price on the significance that having an allotment has had for me in terms of improvement to my physical and mental well-being. I am able to harvest a small but reasonably sized amount of produce from my small half plot-all delicious of-course! But the primary benefits are social and spiritual. I can’t imagine my life now, without having an allotment” – Plot holders survey response
Green fingers and rosy cheeks
- If you don’t have a garden of your own, there are plenty of community gardens in and around Brighton and Hove. For details on getting involved in a community garden, contact The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- One of these community gardens is of course yours truly – The Brighton and Hove Organic Gardening Group. We are always on the lookout for volunteers to join us on our allotment. Whether you are a seasoned expert or have never gardened before, we would love for you to be part of our community. Just email Alan Phillips – email@example.com for more information.