Friday, 3 July 2009
On Friday 26th June, the Year 3s (aged 7 and 8) from Moulsecoomb Primary School came to enjoy a day on the allotment.
Simon, our friendly local food fanatic, helped them to make and cook pizzas in our clay oven, while others foraged for fruits amongst the bushes.
The day was designed to keep the enthusiasm for all things 'green' amongst the children, so they would look forward to joining the environmental group next year and pass on the message of healthy eating and living.
They certainly left with big smiles and happy bellies!
Thursday, 2 July 2009
Our volunteers were invaluable throughout the day: setting up, conducting tours and tatting down at the end of the day.
Some of the children who use the allotment proudly offered tours and helped with the strange selection of creepy crawlies that visited our classroom for the day. Not just regular common or garden bugs - this lot included giant African land snails, scorpions, giant millipedes and even tarantulas. Some of our braver visitors even dared to hold them!
Due South, a prestigious restaurant on Brighton seafront that specialises in using local produce, provided a delicious spread of roasted vegetables and bread throughout the day. All cooked in our clay oven and kept warm through our high tech system of hot embers in a wheelbarrow...
The World Food Project also spiced up the day with a delicious curry that lasted for mere moments. We also sampled Arabic coffee and the children helped themselves to the abundance of ripe berries and currants found around the allotment.
Local arts group Clowd 9 took over the turf sofa area to make willow butterflies, naturally coloured felt and badges with an environmental theme.
The project was heaving with visitors all day, and everyone seemed to enjoy the vibrancy and variety of activities on offer. The wonderful collective of people from all backgrounds participating showed the strength of this true community project - to overcome racial, age and class barriers.
What the hell is an outlawed vegetable?
It’s a frequent question at the garden where we grow French beans, peas and tomatoes that are illegal to buy in the shops.
Why illegal? Well under EU regulations each variety of vegetable seed has to be put on the National Seed List, and this costs money.
As most of our seed companies are now owned by the big bio-tech companies that are trying to force GM (genetically modified) greens down our throats, they aren’t really bothered about a ‘Carnival’ lettuce that only flogs a few packets. Or ‘Champion of England’ which grows too tall for the mechanical pickers. And the supermarkets don’t want a tomato like ‘Tangella’, with beautiful soft, orange skin that would turn to mush on the long food mile journey of most supermarket food.
The British Isles has one of the richest garden heritages in the world. For years, scores of gardeners and smallholders have nurtured thousands of unique vegetable varieties. But in the last hundred years most of these varieties have all but disappeared.
Thousands more are under threat from climate change, loss of habitat, invasive alien species and the desire for ‘perfect’ vegetables.
Does it matter? The Heritage Library think so.
“Every variation and strain is remarkably different. Each with its own taste, growing habits, cultivation time and heritage. Just as we value the diversity of plant and animal species, we need to keep the gene pool of the plants we grow to eat as big as possible too. It’s not just vegetable varieties that we are losing, but the local history, culture, tradition and skills that go with them. Once the varieties are extinct, we will never be able to get the seed or heritage back.”
The Heritage Seed Library work around the EU regulations by getting people to join the library. They send us a catalogue and we order some seed. We also save seed from varieties that we like the taste of. But they don’t just taste good, some can look spectacular – such as the ‘Kent Blue’ Pea currently growing at the forest garden.