My goodness it’s a long while since I wrote anything here – I guess that happens over the winter, there’s not a lot happening growing wise when all said and done. Actually we’ve been pretty busy with PXI – Space to Grow in the past few months, and more is planned as we slowly but surely move closer to Springtime.
So here’s a few highlights of our recent activities:
The Chutney and Jam making sessions in October / November were really popular, a number of people joined including people who’d never made them before in their lives. We experimented with Quince, and Hedgerow jams, as well as with a number of varieties of Chutneys (Ploughmans, Windfall chutney, and Green and Red Tomato) all delicious. The sessions took place at Cross at Yew Lane Quiet Garden and were led by Diane Cocker (LEAF) assisted by Charlie Hill (local artist).
As well as the Chutney and Jam making, we’ve also worked with Charlie (using a grant from CDF for groups in Southey ward) to organise mini beast hunts in Parson Cross Park and a willow weaving session this last Saturday. This took place again at Yew Lane and we joined by adults and children who helped construct upright willow structures that we’ll be using to support planting this year.
The sessions have gone so well we’re already looking forward to the spring and what else we might do but already we’re thinking of a Using Seasonal Food series of events, as well as family activities at Plot107, and more creative sessions at yew Lane, Mount Tabor and the Learning Zone. So watch this space for more news.
Last week at LEAF we were visited by a film crew who were making a documentary all about local food production and community approaches to food. It was a good opportunity to show why I in particular enjoy being at LEAF so much when I get the opportunity to be there – it’s not just about the food growing, important though that is, it’s also about being community.
Now being a community, just like being a family isn’t always easy, and there are times when people fall out – sometimes over little things that are easily patched up, and sometimes over things that are much harder to heal and move on from, but the mark of any community (and family) is in how much it is able to forgive each other and move on. Now forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, and it doesn’t mean the hurts will always disappear but it does mean that we learn to understand each others faults and failings and therefore try to find ways of moving on beyond them. In the bible it says “…love each other deeply, because love makes you willing to forgive many sins.” (1 Peter 4.8 ) – obviously this isn’t the slushy romantic love of cinema screens and soaps operas, this is a deep unreserved love for our fellow human beings that has almost limitless powerful opportunities to heal and build.
But back to the film – the crew we there all day doing interviews with people and filming as Kadeja cooked a wonderful Iranian style omlette all made with ingredients from the plots including the eggs from Garys chickens – all in all its about as local as you can get, and delicious too!
In addition to the film crew, PXI also welcomed visitors from the Anglican Diocese of Manchester last week who are currently travelling the country to gather stories about how the governments “austerity” politics is adding to the effects of poverty in communities up and down the nation. They paid a visit first to the “food bank” we run at Mount Tabor and then in turn came to visit LEAF before spending time at St Leonards church in Longley.
This week as the sun continued to bear down on us we opened up two new beds to plant some Yacon and Okra – but before we did it was time to harvest a decent yield of runner beans and offer them to the public. We’d had at least one taker before I left at lunchtime – I do hope they enjoyed them.
After the morning at LEAF, I moved on to the quiet garden at Cross at Yew Lane, where the raspberries this year have done really well. Another two pounds almost today to add to the full tub we’d already picked and shared on Sunday with visitors to “The Gathering” which is a small christian group that meets regularly there.
There were more Raspberries on Plot107 when Angela was up there today – lots of weeds still to cut down but as the site for our main fruit crops its been doing well this year at least as far as the raspberries and gooseberries are concerned. For some reason the rhubarb has not done as well, and the strawberries have largely failed due to us allowing them to get shaded out by other stuff – a new plan will be needed next year for them.
It’s that time of year when we start to think about what we might do with some of the excess of our fruit harvest in order for it to last us through the winter – one of my favourite ways of doing this is through chutney making. Last year PXI-Space to Grow ran a number of days in the pavillion at Parson Cross park and at Mount Tabor where a few of us got together to make some lovely chutneys. If you’ve never made chutney before or if you want to try a new recipe here’s a video from June Bingham who lives locally showing us how to make a lovely Pear & Walnut Chutney …. enjoy!
June uses Fairtrade products alongside local produce to make tasty foods to enjoy, you can watch more of Junes Fairtrade recipe videos on YouTube.
Angela, Fay and I were out harvesting as Abundance (North Sheffield) again today, and picked another four boxes full of lovely apples. We got to try out the new extendable apple picking grabs loaned to us by Diane at LEAF, so a big thanks to her for that …. they worked a treat!
A big thanks also to Linda and her family who kindly offered her trees into this years harvest, its wonderful to see just how many people and groups can benefit from one family sharing the abundance of their own harvest.
Having been safely gathered in the apples are now being stored at PXI offices at Mount Tabor and ready for redistribution in the community. Some will be used by allotmenteers on the 20th September when we get together at the pavilion in Parson Cross Park to have a chutney making session, but there’s loads left still so if anyone wants any or has ideas for where they could be used let me know.
If you’ve any recipes for using apples creatively other than pies and crumbles (delicious though these are) feel free to add them here as a comment. So far this season we’ve picked around 220llbs of apples and 20llb of pears!