We are always grateful for help in the Garden, so if you are local, come on down.
Our next dates are - 26 May, 9 June, and 23 June. 11am till 1pm.
We had a very productive session in the Library Community Garden today, getting lots of clearing and planting done. We have chard, parsnips, land cress, tomatoes, beans, potatoes and spring onions all on the go. We also potted up some pansies into the planter generously donated by AL's PLANTERS. The Forget-Me-Nots are too pretty to clear, and the bees love them!
We are always grateful for help in the Garden, so if you are local, come on down.
Our next dates are - 26 May, 9 June, and 23 June. 11am till 1pm.
The fire of Spring, interwoven with dew and light...These glistening willow buds were just one of the signs of Spring that greeted us down at the library community garden today, the hellebore patch is a mass of pink and green and we have tiny pockets of narcissus and muscari dotted around. We have beautiful fresh growth on the lemon balm and fat juicy buds on the apple and pears - not bad at all considering recent conditions. I think the rain and warmer conditions have helped bring everything on.
We did a bit of clearing and maintenance today as well as sowing some seed, we put in some swiss chard, calendula and salad burnet. We have a mixture of various seed in our seedbank if you would like some for free please pop along to one of our workdays - details below.
LOCAL FOOD MARKET
Are you a local gardener or allotment holder?
Would you like to sell your surplus produce?
We have plans to hold a monthly food market to provide the community with healthy, affordable local produce thereby also supporting local people by developing a local economy. This is a market that will be predominantly fruit, vegetables, herbs and plants. We are hooking up with the www.bigbarn.co.uk/crop-for-the-shop/ initiative and would like to sign up individuals and groups
to sell their produce. We are planning the first market for sometime in May (date tbc)
If you are interested please contact us to chat terms and conditions and get signed up.
We are looking for volunteers to help maintain and develop the gardens. We welcome all members of the community to come along on our workdays whatever your ability or gardening experience, we are keen to get together a group to look after and enjoy this space, we are also open to ideas on how the space can be used.
We have the medicine wheel bed we are developing on site along with the fruit area, we have the wildlife area and also have a number of waist height raised beds that need adopting. They are perfect if you are new to gardening or if you would just like a small manageable space to grow in.
if you would like to adopt one we can offer you seeds from our seed bank and advice on growing.
You can see more information of the space and a detailed plan of the development ideas on our projects page.
If you would like to join us on one of our workdays you can check for dates on our news and events page or contact us.
The gardens are a beautiful mix of cultivated and wild plants. We currently have an abundance of Garlic mustard aka Jack in the hedge in the gardens so if you are a keen forager please pop down a pick a bunch. They can be eaten like braised green, raw in salads and it also makes a beautiful pesto. You could also add other Spring greens, recipe below:
Two big handfuls of a wild garlic, Garlic Mustard
Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan or oven for 5 minutes, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat and allow to cool a little.
Crush the nettles up well in a pestle and mortar or blender- this will eliminate the stings. Chop the rest of the herbs roughly and throw them in the blender along with the cheese, salt and pepper and half the nuts. Add about half of the oil and pulse until roughly blended.
Add the remaining nuts but only pulse a few more times to leave the pesto with some crunch. If the pesto looks dry, add more oil. Spoon into sterilised glass jars and cover with a layer of oil. Every time you use some of the pesto cover with another layer of oil to keep the air out. Store in the fridge and it should last a couple of weeks.
SATURDAY 28TH APRIL
11am till 1pm
The community garden is open during library opening hours for anyone to enjoy - it may be possible for us to meet you there at other times please contact us and we will organise this if possible.
"When the April wind wakes the call for the soil, I hold the plough as my only hold upon the earth, and, as I follow through the fresh and fragrant furrow, I am planted with every foot-step, growing, budding, blooming into a spirit of spring."
Both August and September have been pretty rainy, which has made work at our community garden a challenge, especially as the greenery has thrived and is taking over where we would prefer it not to!
Last weekend, we had a stall at the Harvest Open Day held at our old stomping ground, Salop Drive Market Garden. Fortunately, the rain actually held off for this one! The Market Garden is looking simply splendid, thanks to the amazing work done by Tim and co. I, (Annie), had a lovely time chatting to visitors about permaculture and nettles.
We are holding our own Autumn event at the Bleakhouse Library garden next month, details to follow. In the meantime, here are a few photos from last Saturday.
We have been down at the gardens today and finally feel we are managing to tame the wilds, due in a large part to our investment in a strimmer, the shrubs have been rained in too and some bindweed eliminated!
We have added another triangle bed and just need to add one more to complete a circle with the existing beds.These will be used as the main vegetable growing beds for next season alongside a small rectangular field bed we are putting in to the rear of the circle. The existing beds have parsnips, chard and celeriac which has gone to seed, we will save this to use ourselves next year and the rest we will put into our free community seed bank, so if you would like some please get in touch!
The central part of the garden is an array of wild and native flowers with a bit of Veg here and there....the space is earmarked in the development for a willow dome, small sandpit and wildflowers. This stage of the garden is planned for autumn so in the meantime the main thing that will benefit this space is the addition of hummus. So on our launch day back in April we just had fun and planted the space in a wildly uninhibited polyculture fashion. The results may not be to the tastes of some but I love the haphazard nature of it. The space is certainly teeming with insect life, we have also left in selective native plants which are either edible/medicinal or are benefical to growing conditions.
The major two jobs we will be focusing on in the coming weeks are the making of a proper compost area and the re-building of the brick oven. We are also planning an Autumn community event in the garden for the end of October.
ADOPT A RAISED BED OR JOIN US AS A VOLUNTEER
We have 4 raised beds on site in need of some TLC, we would like to invite individuals or groups to adopt one for free in return for the regular care of the bed. They are waist height and fully accessable , they are a manageable size for people who would like to grow their own without taking on a pressure full allotment. The permaculture group can provide help, advice and support, Seeds/plants and equipment where needed.
A massive thank you to everyone who has lent a hand in the garden so far. We are now looking to build a small team of volunteers to meet with us every other Saturday to maintain, develop the garden, chat permaculture and eat cake! We also we want to promote the space as a social community space for individuals, families and groups to get together.
If you are interested in getting involved please pop down for a chat on one of the work/social days or message us through the contacts page on the website.
Here's a little video and a few photos from last weekend. The weather was somewhat challenging this year, but we still had a great time. Blog post to follow.
This is a little video of what went on at the launch open day for the community garden at Bleakhouse Library in Sandwell. The garden has been developed as a community kitchen garden by Countershade, as part of the Sow We Grow Project. Going forward, our Network will be looking after the garden, with the support of the Library. We have lots of exciting plans, so watch this space!
We are still early in the season and have had some challenging weather in gardening terms but the Nettle is never deterred...I have been checking out some of our local patches and already some juicy fresh growth can be observed, picking early makes for a delicious soup with a slightly sweeter edge than usual. I have been out picking firstly to dry for tea to make some blends with the fresh Spring growth as part of my social enterprise The WildWood Emporium, this will be available to buy in the next couple of weeks- as soon as it is dry along with the new product of Nettle pasta. The second reason for me picking so early was to infuse it into Olive oil which I have now done and it is awaiting processing into soap ready for #Nettlefest
We are very pleased to announce that we have received funding for Nettlefest from http://www.heartofenglandcf.co.uk/
We have plenty organised for the day already including a Nettle walk, talk and pick, craft area where we will have Nettle fibre spinning demonstration, Hula Hooping, face painting, speakers corner, workshops and of course Annies famous Nettle beer. We will send out an official line up over the next few weeks and update as we get attendance confirmed.
Another way we are raising funds is by way of TeeChip, I like this idea as opposed to usual crowd funding as you can by a Nettlefest T-shirt or mug for your money, TeeChip take a charge and then produce and ship the items. This is all done on the basis that they are made and shipped once ordered so we have no initial outlay. If you would like to check out colours and prices please follow the link below.
So We Grow Together
More exciting news! We have joined forces with Countershade - To collaborate on their So We Grow Together Project. Countershade is an Environmental Arts Education community interest company based in Sandwell/Birmingham West midlands who teach environmental awareness through a process of Art Education.
The Sow We Grow Together Project has turned the somewhat neglected garden at Bleakhouse Library in Oldbury into a welcoming green space where local people can take part in workshops and events or simply relax in natural surroundings, you can read more about the project here http://countershade.org/blog/
The Sandwell and Birmingham Permaculture group will be looking after the garden and using Bleakhouse library as a base. We also have lots of ideas about how we would like to develop the space we will be basing our community Seedbank there, holding social community events as well as implementing a permaculture plan for the space, we will be holding regular workdays and are organising a small monthly farmers market.
This space is available to be used by every one in the community individuals and groups, schools and other organisations for recreation and social purposes as well as education and holistic therapy.
We are launching this phase of the project on 8th April 11am till 3pm
The Location is Bleakhouse Library, Bleakhouse Rd, Oldbury B68 9DS
On the day we will be holding a Seed/Plant swop, there will be kids activities, music, food and refreshments and local stalls. There will also be a chance for you to do some light gardening if you would like to get your hands dirty, Both Stephen Whitehead of Countershade and Annie and myself of the permaculture group will be there on the day to chat about our respective work and the past, present and future plans for the garden. Please come along weather its to find out more if you are interested to get involved or just to enjoy the space, atmosphere and community vibe.
More Info and promotion to follow soon....
Nettle fibre looms on the horizon!
Quick update on our on going Nettle fibre project - we have very kindly been donated 2 looms by a friend of the group and so our capabilities for experimentation have increased! If you would like to get involved with this project in any way please do get in touch.
Finally please enjoy my latest poetical offering, along with the artwork to go with it, I made the quill from a goose feather collected locally along with ink made from raspberries and I cant tell you how much satisfaction I gained from drawing a goose feather with a goose feather!
And now to this
the spaces in between
a dizzying ascent up the beanstalk
traversing through the vault of heaven
hurtling in perpetual spin to the schism
there I raised a storm
and sat in its (I)eye
Now I travel new dimensions
carried on the wings of a gander
mental calm crashes through new boundaries
brings intuitive foresight and inspiration
New quill, New will
Knew ways to think
berries of red became my ink
sparks of creativity open new portals
Divided we stand and united we fall...
Miocene wisdom of the ages
teaches synchronicity in flight
connection of Mind, Body and Motion
the more we flock together
the higher we fly
understand the power of community
together we travel long journeys on thermal winds
to gain strength and endurance.
Now, strong in my husk amid the chaos
I attempt to explain the unexplainable
greed looses all by striving to gain
but nothing is lost
All is changed
some things slot together and others remain
some energies repel- matter ripped asunder
I keep focused on my journey
to wander through wonder.
So here I am...I feel
shit just got real
in the sacred circle
on this earth
place of birth
bringer of new beginnings
not asking to be thanked
vocal about my boundaries
I occupy my own territory
and I ween that there are more fools
that pass through this place
than remain in it
like the three wise men of Gotham.
A treasure hunt to seek the golden egg
The Arc(t/k) of the covenant
by the power (in)vested in me
by the power that I know myself to be
once upon a time
darkness was my clock, my rock
now I embody dusk and watch
comme un conte de la mere oye
my candle illuminates
an idiom of the flock
spread with good intent
exist in happiness
joy and love enter next
as we gather and spiral higher
I acknowledge that
We do not follow for comfort, we follow for survival.
Things have been pretty quiet here in the Permaculture camp, this is the first blog for quite a while, we have not been overly active in the world at large for the latter half of the year either due to respective personal circumstances that we had to stop and give attention to....However in the words of Pietro Aretino.....Let us love Winter, for it is the Spring of genius. To that end and off the back of a couple of Permaculture meetings at our secret headquarters we have laid down some plans and have news to share....please see below for our updates on Nettles, Seeds and Our shared online Permaculture resource.
In other news i am excited to tell you i have a new job looking after an allotment for a local junior school, see pics above and below, it is a well established site but does have a few issues to contend with, i am currently assessing the site and have started a permaculture plan, ill document this on the blog and on the website but if you would like to come along and visit (or lend a helping hand) to see what permaculture practices i am implementing please get in touch through our contact page. I have also been given the go ahead to hold workshops at this site...which is fantastic news this is in the planning at the moment as soon as we have events going on they will be posted to our news and events page.
SEEDBANK LIST Autumn 2016
This is the list of what we currently hold in the Seedbank...we are hoping to get it out and about to a few events in the near future and will hold a Seed swop event next Spring, but in the mean time if there is anything you would like please get in touch we will endevor to get them to you in person or by post as far as we are able. If you do have Seeds you could dontate to the bank (preferably open source and organic) please do get in touch with us .....we would love to hear from you.
Permaculture Network Online Resource news -
We did have a shared dropbox with lots of information about Permaculture, herblism, Law and ebooks to name a few with the idea being people can join and not only use the resource but add to it too. Due to the cartel like nature of large digital corporations we hit a ceiling on it and could no longer able to upload to it unless we paid them money. I have now moved the entire content onto Mega a cloud storage service with an interesting background http://www.backupreview.com/mega-review/
We are now able to carry on uploading, we are still exploring the sites usability but if you would like to join please contact us and we will add you, we have been adding resources for a few years now so it really does contain a wealth of information.
In the wake of our disapointment of having to cancel this years #Nettlefest we are very excited to announce that we have set the time and place for #Nettlefest 2017. It will be on the 20th May at Martineau Gardens in Edgbaston. This location means we will be able to bring it more than ever before. It is a community based event intended to spread the word about this abundant resource and its many benefits. It is also an event intended to bring the community together to share knowlege skills and fun in a casual setting. In terms of anyone getting involved.....Aside from the Nettle part of the day the emphasis is on the community part....its a bottom up community festival and the loose idea is there are so many people in our communities with knowledge and skills to share that people come along and do what they do!...in essance we are open to offers as it should just reflect what amazing work people already do and provide a space for people to get together and strenghen our networks. In terms of our ideas and what has been achieved before we will be holding workshops/talks...perhaps a foraging/botanical walk. We will have a market place for local stallholders making local produce (food/craft) We need music...through the day ending with a jam round the fire for the last few hours. I would also like this year to have a speakers corner type area...we will have a kids area so need people for that preferably with a current dbs...we usually have about 4 floating volunteers for general work...i would also like some kind of interactive art/craft stuff going on as well as kids face painting. We will have a food area and any helping with photos/doing some filming would be amazing as well as help with promo...we should have a poster ready in the next few weeks...help with set up/clear up would be great too...er thats all i can think of at the moment...but basically anything anyone can do, little or alot would be amazing. Oh and we do ask people if possible that they give a slight nod to the Nettle during what they are doing on the day.
Harvest Nettle now for fibre and paper making as it is the best time of year...i have been busy doing this myself and hope to have some to bring to Nettlefest so we can have demonstrations of working with the fibre and also papermaking...this will be interactive so people can also have a go at this themselves on the day. If you do want to have a go yourself and cant wait till next May then i cant recommend the book
Yarn from wild Nettles : A practical guide by Birte Ford highly enough it contains everything you could possibly need to know and is useful for those of us in the UK as she is based in Scotland therefore her experiments are and have been done on our native Nettle as opposed to Ramie which is a Nettle species native to Asia and the one more widley used especially in commercial terms to make fibre.
During a recent trip to Mid Wales i observed these white blobs on some patches of Nettles at 2 different sites local to each other. I was intregued as i have never seen any thing like it before. After a bit of research it was revealed to be Nettle pouch Gall This structure is caused by the gall midge or gnat Dasineura urticae. Apparently the nettle pouch gall shows a scattered distribution throughout the United Kingdom and is under recorded..there is a map here http://www.naturespot.org.uk/species/dasineura-urticae
that covers Leicestershire and Rutland...so if anyone spots any let us know and maybe we could start plotting locations on a map. Interstingly whilest some of this species is considered a pest a large number of species are natural enemies of other crop pests. Their larvae are predatory, and some are even reported as parasitoids. The most common are aphids and spider mites, followed by scale insects, then other small prey such as whiteflies and thrips, which eat the eggs of other insects or mites. Investigations are ongoing but as ever the Nettle being the adaptable plant she is didnt seem overly fussed by the whole thing!
CREATIVITY THROUGH ART
In the latter half of this year for a number of reasons i found myself in a physical and mental place where i felt drained, empty and stuck this lead me to working through this by applying permaculture principles to myself and getting creative to shift the blocks and reach new levels of understanding in order to move on ...See below for a couple of my offerings....
I have been making alot of Pagan Madelas with the same general meaning as the Hindu ones representing the universe/all that there is. So of them are abit off-piste in mandela terms...there is one i did to represent the Sun/Moon, Male/Female but also encompasses non- duality. I also did a Celtic Trinity Knot for Love, Honour and Protection. I have been making quite a few lately for a few reasons, firstly as a kind of meditation....while making the mandela first breathe then focus on the self....i also make them to give thanks and also because i have been sending them to someone i love but cannot be with at the moment...they are inspired by what we talk about, lately we have chatted about love as energy, love as a state you exist in and how it radiates out. The true nature of male/feminine aspects of the self and true, pure human interaction....which incidentally with me loving word play lead me to notice that you can break the word mandela down into Man Del (Spanish for of the or from the) Her.
Please see the short film below of a few mandelas i have created......
PLANT A SEED ALONG THE WAY...is a project i am supporting and helping with please see below for details.....
One Map....One Bike...One Plan....End Unknown
It’s about simple steps that can be taken by anyone...it can take a lifetime to make the steps alone, some people have in the that hope others would not have to....
In the summer of 2017 Paul Haydon is undertaking a mammoth journey from Alicante Spain and travelling across Europe to the UK on his Harley Davidson Roadster 883. You can see a map with his planned stop off points here....
Paul arrived in Spain 4 years ago from the UK as a medical refugee in order to be able to legally produce Cannabis Oil as medicine for both himself and
Others. Working together in Spain with just medical users they took what had been left by others and set to work. They were not lead by anything but pushed to find another way to live, some did not make it - they died. It’s not nice but that's the way it is in the world of mainstream medicine, others will die before he sets off.
Many have spoken out on this issue and taken the moral approach over legal responsibility. Medicine should not be bought into the political arena. We are left in a situation where the healthcare of millions is being cast around by political groups and organisations, whilst the health benefits of Cannabis oil are laid to waste. This issue is one example of many problems we face today living in the shadow of corporate greed and corruption, destroying the planet and seeking to control others...it is time to take back self- responsibility for our own well-being, put forward solutions and share open source information.
Refugee - The Ride to Return
In this world we all ride together, it is time to put differences aside. The ride to return highlights what can be achieved when people can stand together in compassion and work together with honour, respect and dignity.
All are invited to join Paul and ride with him at any point along the journey whatever you ride be it motorbike, pushbike or mobility machine. If you would like to offer a stop off point on his journey for a meal, a nights’ sleep or a cup of tea and a chat please get in touch.
Along the way we will be tracking the journey online and through social media and asking for your help with this by filming and taking photographs also. We would like to chat and document your stories, those who have been affected by the laws surrounding Medical Cannabis.....
One thing is for sure Paul will set of heading for patient number 8 one of many that now have a life to live, thanks to YOU that's right YOU all of YOU.... every one that spoken out over the last 50 years. Or even longer... from your grandfather and mother to your children around you now... together we are showing the world we can and do make change and it’s for the better... Bob rides to honour the ones that are no longer with us.... what he calls his fallen brother and sisters, his army of the dead or Angels..... They are no longer with us....but they sure live on in everything we do...................Please share far and wide..............
Thanks for reading...in case the dark nights are getting you down i leave you with the words of Albert Camu...
In the depths of winter i finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer....catch ya next time....
I am sitting at the computer wrapped in a blanket and feeling very sorry for myself. Yes, it's that time of year when I get my annual seasonal lurgy. :( However, this year, I have an arsenal of herbal potions to ease the misery. More on that later.
Since my last post, I've actually done quite a lot of herbal stuff, starting with an event Nyrees and I did back in October. We were asked to do a presentation stall at an event in Coventry run by the Heart of England Community Foundation. They were the people who arranged our Red Nose Day funding for Nettlefest this year. It was a terrific event, with stalls from a number of very different organisations HECF had funded.
I especially liked the electronic graffiti wall. (You can see our stall in the foreground of the photo below.)
Also in October, I went to two workshops for my Herbal Apprenticeship. The first was at Springfield Sanctuary. We had a lovely day working with the wonderful trees on the site. It is a joy to be in Sarah Head's company, she is incredibly knowledgeable and so generous with her wisdom.
I spent a lot of time with one of the venerable oaks on the site, and brought back some of it's fallen leaves to press.
I've also been to two of Sarah's workshops in Solihull, and the last one could not have been timed better. I came away with a bottle of elderberry cordial, which, together with the elecampane honey I made at the previous workshop, has saved me from the worst symptoms of this vicious cold bug. I shall be stocking up on the elderberries next year, and I have an elecampane root from the Sanctuary which I have planted in the garden. If this doesn't take, (as many of my plants don't!), I shall be begging Sarah for some more. The honey is fantastic for preventing coughs from taking hold.
I've also been on a lovely course which Nyrees ran at Centre of the Earth in Birmingham. The course was, you've guessed it, all about Nettles! I won't say too much about this, as she will be talking about it herself on here, but there will be another one next Spring which I am really looking forward to. Also, a quick heads-up that next year's Nettlefest will be on Saturday 21st May.
I am off to Cornwall on Friday, and will be in Penzance for the Solstice celebration of Montol. This is a fantastic tradition, and I have my mask and my 'lady's hand me downs' all ready. For any-one else celebrating the Solstice, here's a bit of Jethro Tull to get us in the spirit.
Season's Greetings to one and all! Annie
Like Nyrees, I haven't blogged for a while. I've been up and down to my beloved Cornwall, first on holiday, and then to take part in the annual Literary Festival in Penzance.
Dylan Thomas married Caitlin Macnamara in Penzance on 11 July 1937, and to commemorate the event, a plaque was placed on the old Registry Office on the same day this year. My friend Jak, who has amongst other things written and performed a project on Wilkie Collins _https://walkingwithwilkie.wordpress.com/, led two walks around the town highlighting places Dylan visited. (Clue: a lot were pubs.)
Anyway, I played the part of a real life local character, Miss Findlow. Miss Findlow was, oh sweet irony, a herbalist! I have to hang my head and say that I haven't done anything herbal since our Nettlefest event in May. (That itself was a great success, and there are some photos over on the, err, photo page.)
Since then, I really haven't done much, but I have made a tincture from my Apothecary Rose.
I've also dried some petals from my Wild Edric. ("Wild, I was absolutely livid!" as Gerald the gorilla would say.)
This rose is named after a Saxon Lord from Shropshire whose ghost still rides across the hills looking for his fairy wife. Haven't decided what I'm going to do with these yet, but they have a gorgeous Old Rose scent.
All of my roses have done brilliantly this year. Even my Brother Cadfael, which has not been very happy for a few years now. From what I'm hearing, a lot of people are having the same experience.
Talking of Brother Cadfael, if you are a fan of Ellis Peters' 'Rare Benedictine', this is a nice herbal to have. It features all the medieval herbs mentioned in the books.
Actually, I did do one thing since my last post, and that was to make some tartlets using Anne Patterson's recipe from her lovely blog here http://wwootw.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/the-gifts-of-spring-beauty-food-medicine.html
I used filo pastry, and they're a bit rustic looking, but they tasted great. I would make smaller ones for a dinner party starter. If I held dinner parties :)
Anyway, I shall now take my leave and return when I have something more interesting to blog about. Bye for now.
Nyrees is a member of the Sandwell permaculture Network, she loves foraging, being creative,permaculture and metaphysical debate!!