Tag Archives: ealing

The birth of the Lammas Park Community Orchard

The Lammas Park Community Orchard is one of our brewing local food projects. Over the course of the last year, some hardy souls in our Transition Local Food group have been lobbying the council for a slice of Lammas Park in Northfields. An application was rejected, amended, re-submitted, and then approved. (We asked for too many trees at first!) With the first steps taken this weekend, we’ll be planting 5 different types of native trees with  to feed the community in the coming years. This is an open event and a great chance to come check out the group and the cause, or just have a good old fashioned dig.

There will be twenty trees in total replacing one of the disused tennis courts in the park. This Saturday (26/2), we’re calling on all able bodied people to turn up at 10 a.m. with a spade and determination! We need to dig 20 1-yard wide holes for the trees. Next Saturday (5/3) at 2 p.m.there will be a family day for the actual tree planting featuring kids’ activities, snacks, community joviality. The works! Come one, come all.

If you’ve got any questions, just pop an email over to ealingcommunitygarden@gmail.com or comment below!

This was also posted over at the community garden blog, but we like to spread the good word. So here it is again!

Hanwell’s Foxy Craft Market, Saturday, 11 – 3

The Fox Pub has been trying to get a local market off the ground on the last Saturday of every month, when its front walkway and garden fill up from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with stalls selling fresh bread, free range eggs, organic meats, artisan cheeses, cakes, various condiments and chutneys… plus locally made jewelry and ceramics, with a smattering of other artists on-site. I’ve heard that the stalls are good, but attendance is varied. This is probably due to the fact that the Fox is at the end of Green Lane – a dead end, with foot traffic occasionally passing by from the canal.

Local market + Doom Bar or a ginger beer tickles my fancy for a Saturday. I think I might do my practical shopping (for Ottolenghi’s caramelised garlic tart to fete HVS’ last night in the UK!) at the Ealing Farmer’s Market and then poke around at the Fox for some novelties. I bet I’ll find that the two are somewhat interchangeable for things like cheeses and chutneys. But WILL FOXY’S MARKET HAVE MY SPROUTS?

I’ll let you know.

(Can’t find a link to pop up here, hmmm. Guess there isn’t a dedicated Foxy’s Craft Market page?)

Bath Soft Cheese at the Ealing Farmer’s Market

The Ealing Farmer’s Market has added a new vendor to its roster – Bath Soft Cheese Company. The Bath Soft Cheese itself is its most famous variant, derived from a nineteenth century recipe that was one of Lord Nelson’s favourites. So, starting this weekend and then every third Saturday from now on, you can saunter on down to Leeland Road and live like Lord Nelson. We’ll see if I can be swayed from my Glastonbury unpasteurised cheddar to try Bath Soft Cheese. Everyone likes a bit of variety, right? Or, am I important enough to be allowed to suggest a throwdown between cheesemongers? (Probably not. But it would be funny. Little aprons and all. WHO HAS THE BEST CHEESE. SETTLE IT ON THE DANCE FLOOR.)

Along with this announcement came the reminder that the Ealing Plant Fair will be taking place 9 April. And you know what that means: Spring is coming. Summer is coming. We can leave our houses again!

Ealing Farmer’s Market operates every Saturday on Leeland Road W13, from 9:00 – 1:00. Cupcakes, chutneys, apples, brussel sprouts, lamb shank, buffalo yogurt… Come one, come all.

Walking in a Winter Wonder..Hanwell..

Since we still haven’t managed to get food into the house, I hoarsely proposed a Sunday roast out on the town. It took three pubs, but we eventually found one at the Viaduct that hadn’t a) run out or b) gotten so crowded it gave me the heebies. On the way, we cast off for a wintry trudge through the snow.

When I was home in the States, my dad asked me who we had arranged to shovel our walk if it snowed. I just sort of blinked. It hadn’t really snowed yet in London this year and, maybe, just maybe, I’m internalizing a lot of the local notion that it will just get done for me. When it snowed this weekend, I scoffed at the lack of shoveling (not that I own a snow shovel here or anything) and made my usual snarky whatevers about New Englanders shoveling their walks and trudging eight miles to work in a blizzard without complaining and being able to use kryptonite as a vinaigrette on their salad because AREN’T THESE OLD ENGLANDERS WEAK. The truth is that it’s just different here. The Daily Mail recently ran an article warning people that you are liable if you shovel your walk and someone slips on it anyway, so best just not shovel it, because somehow this gives you legal absolution. In Newton, Massachusetts, you can be fined $50 if your walk goes uncleared – even if you are on holiday, even if you are elderly. You get the side eye in the neighborhood if you are THAT house, and we will also generally persecute you for wanting healthcare, thinking the government should help the unemployed or not understanding why we shouldn’t all defend our homes with a semi-automatic rifle. SO. Choose your poison.

(My American family believes none of these things – they probably just shovel because it’s what you do, and if you don’t do it, nobody else will, and then we’ll all be screwed when the annual ten feet of snow come to call).

At any rate, this whole Snowy London Kerfuffle HAS made me want to go out and buy a big ass red shovel, if only so that my cats can leap into whatever pile I create from great heights. Because they are my weaselly little children.

And I don’t want the older lady next door to slip.

The Grand Union Canal.

Boys packing snowballs with which to torment me.

We crept across the frozen lock. I almost fell in. Boys threw things at me.

The bush outside of our house is flattened with the weight of six inches of snow. It’s pretty boring to look at and naturally smells of cat piss. Fingers crossed this spells its bitter end.

(That ain’t a picture of our bush).

We headed up into the bunny fields between the canal and the football pitches to find a snowman decorated with teazels and twigs. I would have a photo of it, but my camera battery went dead. But just imagine the hokey potential of teazels in the place of coal… a clean energy snow man. Ah.

Ruminations on the Oak Wharf Planning Application

Our neighborhood is almost constantly under threat from developers. It’s a historical conservation area abutted by sprawling green space and the Grand Union Canal. Bunnies frolic, bees enjoy, overly minted families live in harmony in their Grade II listed houses. Capitalism insists that corporations not allow such an idyll to go unbothered for long – especially not in London. And so the latest encroachment being made on Hanwell comes in the form of the Oak Wharf Planning Application.

Developers are hoping to build a five story apartment building at the base of Green Lane, a Victorian road that spills out into public walking paths along the banks of the canal. The buildings would back onto the River Brent and an expanse of allotments that have been there since at least the inter-war years. The other houses involve exposed timber and terrace gardens, and the land in question is actually at the base of the lane, where pavements and road space narrow. Naturally this space calls for a behemoth complete with parking garage and all the attendant human waste and wreckage that comes with habitation.

It is true that the area in question is currently out of use – very unfortunate, but perhaps not best remedied with a structure that is so incompatible with the rest of the area, and whose construction would prove a detriment. I would personally love to see the cracked pavement on the building site jackhammered and turned into yet more green space to make up for all the extraordinary damage we’ve done to what was once the countryside whose agriculture supported the London metropolis. While I understand the need for new housing as the British population expands, I am more in favor of upgrading existing housing rather than bulldozing what little free land we have left. The disused space along the River at the end of Green Lane should be converted back into an ecological space that will support and reinvigorate local plants and animals, allowing Hanwell to continue to attract people from the borough looking for as much countryside as you can get while still in the capital. Rather than supporting the area, it would appear that planners aim to cram even more people and cars into an already pressurised area at any cost – even that of dishonesty, as has been documented by the Old Hanwell Residents Association. I recognise that not every issue is black and white, but the idea of this proposal going ahead and being approved actually makes me feel a bit ill. In my opinion, once we let one developer encroach on that conservation area and begin to put their footprint on Hanwell’s green space, it will usher in a new phase of building and destruction, rendering the area yet further unrecognisable.

Check out Peter Hutchison’s plea for local action below and click through to the link to comment if you are a Hanwell resident.

I am writing to ask that you comment on the Oak Wharf Planning Application – p/2010/4391, if you have not done so already. Ealing Planning notices with different dates have led to some confusion – on Friday of last week they confirmed the official deadline for comments is Friday 3 December (although a few days after that will be permitted). Comments can be submitted online at http://www.pam.ealing.gov.uk/portal/servlets/ApplicationSearchServlet?PKID=128076

The developers have been putting a lot of effort into swaying opinion. There are a number of rumours that appear to emanate from the developers. Details follow:

·         Suggestions that residents are in favour (a large majority of Oak Cottages residents contacted are strongly against)

·         The Hanwell Conservation Panel has given its support (they have opposed this on multiple grounds)

·         Environment Agency have cleared the proposal in relation to flooding (that decision is pending and not yet received by Ealing Council)

·         Ealing Planning have given their support (they have not – that process is still underway).

·         The developers have been in touch with our three ward Councillors, suggesting that residents are in support of the proposal (clearly not the case, see above).

This comes across as a planned attempt to break down or pick off opposition in small pockets. The plans available on the council website appear to show more detail and investment than is usual at this stage, which implies the developers are serious about pushing through this planning application.

Worryingly, when local residents have raised concerns to the developers, they have said that if they do not get the planning application through, what happens with the site will be much worse.

While many of us would like to see something useful done in this great location, this planning application for five three storey townhouses bordering the River Brent in the heart of the St Mark’s and Canal Conservation is not the answer.


Please do not think others will do this. Letters from each resident of a property are all counted as valid opinion.

There is an outline structure of grounds for objection at the bottom, along with full contact details. One of our Councillors has requested that they be copied in on emails. Their email addresses are yoel.gordon@ealing.gov.uknigel.bakhai@ealing.gov.uk, and anita.kapoor@ealing.gov.uk.

If you would like to see more details about the Planning Application the Developers will be presenting at the next Hanwell Community Forum on Tuesday 7 December at 7.45pm at St Mellitus Church Hall.

This Green Ealing Winter

There was an Ealing Transition Community Garden meeting this past Wednesday – full of energy and verve, I’ve been told. I’ve been a very recalcitrant Community Garden participant. I think my last visit was probably a month ago. Work eats me alive and I sleep in and I sip my tea and I have excuses and the ambition of everyone else fills me with a tiny bit of shame. (Eee!)

There is a green itinerary for the next few months in Ealing, and our (their!) meeting was probably good place to start. So I’m going to pop the last mass e-mail from ealingtransitioncommunitygarden@gmail.com, just to offer a sense of the goings on in the next while..! I contributed the location of the Green Drinks and nothing else. Just to be clear.

Sunday 21 November - Tree planting at Blondin Park – we are planting fruit and nut trees in the Nature Reserve of Blondin Park. Blondin Park is at the southern end of Northfield Avenue W5 and can be entered via Blondin or Niagara Avenues, Boston Manor Road or Windmill Road. Buses: E2, E3, E8. Bring a spade or fork if you have one. Winter warming soup will be on offer to all tree planters!

Saturday 27 November – West Ealing Neighbours Craft Fair, St James Church, West Ealing 10am-4pm – West Ealing Neighbours Abundance Group are selling jams and chutneys that have been made from fruit picked from around Ealing. They would like volunteers to help out on the day with the stall, tea and coffee making and the like. If you can spare an hour or two, please let us know at ealingcommunitygarden@googlemail.com so that Diane can plan the numbers.

Sunday 28 November – Dig Day at Village Park Allotments – please note that for the winter, our dig days are now fortnightly rather than weekly – the second and fourth SUNDAYS of the month.

Tuesday 30 November – Green Drinks with West Ealing Neighbours – 7:30 New Inn (on South Ealing Road opposite St Mary’s Church) – a chance to meet like-minded people from Ealing and surrounds.

Saturday 4th December – Forage for Gingko in Gunnersbury – Mari will lead a forage for gingko, and then show us how to prepare and cook it. Details to follow

Sunday 12th December – Dig Day at Village Park Allotments

Sunday 9th January - Dig Day at Village Park Allotments

Sunday 23rd January – Dig Day at Village Park Allotments

Sunday 13th February – Dig Day at Village Park Allotments

Sunday 27th February –
Dig Day at Village Park Allotments

March 2011 – from March next year, we will have weeknight dig days in addition to weekend dig days, for those who prefer a weeknight or can’t make it on the weekend. Weeknight dig days (or is that dig nights?) will be Wednesdays

Saturday 2 April 2011 – Open day – plant/seedling swap/giveaway, planting, local food – more details closer to the time, but if you have ideas, we’d love to hear them

May 2011 – Forage for rose petals and jam making led by Katherine

I’ll try to update this itinerary as it happens, if I ever manage to community garden again. Oh I like my bed. Oh my life is losing meaning without weekly digging. I’m not even kidding.

London fog

We’ve finally had a couple of serious frosts, with light sheets of ice coating the cars in the neighborhood overnight. I’m cooking up some jalapeno and cheddar cornbread for Saturday’s Thanksgiving feast, but looked out the window long enough to catch a glimpse of the fog that had rolled in over the common outside our house.

There was a man striding purposefully through the middle of this shot just seconds earlier, and all you could really see was his silhouette.

This final photo is the only one that really does the mist justice.

Apple pressing with West Ealing Abundance

I spent a healthy chunk of this past Saturday volunteering with West Ealing Abundance at West Ealing Family Day. Abundance is an organisation that is now going great guns in the West Ealing and Hanwell areas. They scour local areas for both public and private fruit bushes or trees, mapping our local fruit resources and turning much of the harvest into chutneys, jams and juices to sell back to the community. If you have a glut of apples, plums, peaches, whatever, in your back garden, just contact Abundance and they’ll rock up to help you sort it out. (Meaning, pick it and turn it into something delicious to sell back to the community – the final point one that HZD finds rather suspect, but that’s another post entirely about the nature of social enterprise, isn’t it).

I should preface the rest of this post with a couple of mechanical points, I guess.

We spent the morning at a booth outside St. James’ Church, chopping, grinding, squishing, juicing and straining apples that came from mostly private local gardens. We turned them into “apple juice” on the spot, selling it for 40p a pop. There were a few homemade toffee apples on the go – one large or two small for 50p. Nom. While I’m pretty sure everyone else was in fact using the term “apple juice,” I realised that in my New England brain, what we were making was actually cider like the stuff my mama used to bring home from East Milton Square in the autumn, and that I would drink by the gigantic sugary glassful. American cider is non-alcoholic first and alcoholic later in our cultural lexicon. This posed weird problems taking American teenagers who weren’t allowed booze on a summer in France to Normandie and having to ban them from cider at the very last minute, because we forgot they’d figure it was just juice. Oops.

I wish I’d tried some of what we made on Saturday, now that my brain has reconciled what was in those jars. So, Americans, or, New Englanders, we made apple cider. Not apple juice. Our version of apple juice is I think a bit more watered down. I THINK. QUESTION FOR THE AGES. (Ahem. I will try to be less pedantic for the rest of this post.)

Furthermore, I get a little annoyed with myself at how spotty I am with the photos on this blog. Sometimes there are images, sometimes there aren’t. A lot of times they’re blurry. The truth of the matter is that I mostly don’t want to futz with a camera when I’m in the middle of a cool project. There are some people who can swing a giant beast with a telephoto lens around and still make flawless jams and not look like an arse. (Can they? That’s what they do, right?) Instead, I just got bits of apple all over my phone as I tried to take fast pictures with slippery hands and not feel like a wanklord. So, ENJOY THE QUALITY below. And consider this a declaration of my photographic standards here at Bees.

Just some of the apples and pears waiting to be turned into juice and chutney (respectively) in the entryway of St. James’ Church. I managed to participate in every step of the cider-making, which was definitely new for me, and great, as I love knowing a process from beginning to end.

This is the chopping part. I’m delicate, so my wrist started to hurt after about thirty apples, so I absconded to the booth outside to see how the rest of the process went.

The grinder is filled with apple slices which are ground down into the body of the press. Abundance was given money by the Council, I think, to purchase two presses. They also use the proceeds from selling their preserves and juices to buy ladders, buckets, the works. It’s pretty self-sustaining, from what I can tell.

Once crushed in the press, the juice oozes out the sides and around grooves that lead it to pour out into the container. Once the container was full, we strained out the bits – pips, apple puree and stems, as we left everything in to begin with. The great part about having such a public booth was that you could really engage people with the process and show them what was possible with our own local forgotten resources.

Kids loved loved loved pressing the apples. I find that children are usually the easiest to engage at these types of events, and probably won’t soon forget the day that they got to immediately taste the juice that they helped to make. Hopefully the recent uptick of events in Ealing promoting local and homemade food and drink as well as self-sufficiency will change some minds, inspire some experimentation, even if it’s just in kids who now know what fresh apple cider tastes like. There’s not really any going back then, is there?

You can check out West Ealing Abundance’s blog here for a photo of me scratching my nose on the day, plus loads of recipes for preserves in the side bar.  They should be at the Craft Fair at St. James’ Church in West Ealing on November 27th, selling all kinds of preserves, which make pretty good holiday presents if you ask a piggo like me. Yum yum! Yum!

The Greatest Poop Post of All Time.

In the tale of our best efforts at nursing a productive plot into existence, this first winter is to play a pivotal role. I spent time this weekend tearing out the remainder of courgettes. If I never really eat another courgette for the rest of my life I, uh, won’t particularly mind. We’re slowly but surely preparing the beds for overwintering – trapping nutrients, digging in nitrogen, watching it get covered in a happy frost. (My “I LOVE WINTER OMG WHY DO I LIVE IN THIS WEATHERLESS HELL” entries are on the horizon).

A courgette vertebrae, summer detritus.

I left a couple of plants that are still weakly fruiting, along with a patch of carrots and some radishes. But the rest was covered in POOP. Horse manure, to be precise. We somehow managed to get a load of it from a nearby farm, filling up half of a compost bin. It turns out that poop is now a hot commodity, with zoos marketing even giraffe and zebra manure to gardeners as a healthy ingredient in their plant beds. Manures and plant compost trap nutrients rather than adding them, which isn’t something I had entirely realised. The addition of organic matter actually helps soil retain its moisture and structure, preventing compaction and preventing nutrients from leaking away. 

While you can’t use the dung of meat-eating animals, I’m wondering if you could use vegetarian human poop? Not that I plan on pooping in my own garden any time soon. 

This is the other organic matter composting on top of the manure in one of our homemade bins, which are made out of leftover pallets from supermarkets. 

Once I shoveled it off of the manure, and the manure into a bucket, I realised it didn’t smell the way fresh manure did. Horse manure is actually meant to be composted before being reused in a garden, as it often contains weed seeds. It could be that they composted the sweet smell straight out of this stuff. I grew up mucking out stalls and hanging around barns. Riding horses was my adolescent catharsis. No one could really talk to you when you were up there, far from other people on top of a big mammal with a sweet smelling, sweaty body. The scent seeped into everything – clothes, cars, skin, everything. The odor of horse manure is one of my happy triggers. I might have been a little disappointed that there wasn’t a smell here. 

In other enriching efforts, we chopped the stalks of our broad beans just above the surface of the soil. Leaving them in the bed adds loads of nitrogen, making it a healthier environment for fruit, veg and flowers in the future. We’ll be adding the rest of the manure to other beds and probably some overwintering green manure. Green manure is, incidentally, just a cover crop that prevents weeds from taking over a resting bed while feeding nutrients into the soil. Alfalfa and clover are, I think, some of the most basic options. But you can also get some for springtime that bloom with chirpy purple flowers. 

The rich color of the manure against the soil is kind of lovely, isn’t it.

What world is this that I’ve descended into? Oy vey.

Gardening organically for the future…

Bob Sherman from Garden Organic gave a talk in the Polygon at St. Mary’s Church in South Ealing tonight about ‘gardening organically for the future.’ A lot of the environmental talks I’ve gone to in Ealing have been sort of conceptual in the past – big talks on peak oil and population growth and general apocalypse that leave you feeling sort of helpless. Fascinating and all that, but I am more interested in plans for action at the moment. Bob is a former gardener, and tonight he was talking about organic gardening rather than farming. The lecture itself was concerned with talking to people about what they can do on a small scale to combat the effects of the biotech food industry, generations of pesticide use, centuries of ecological damage and, natch, climate change.

Concepts of sustainability, re-use and recycling are not new to organic gardeners. Indeed, organic gardening in general is about treading lightly in your ecosystem and making the littlest impact possible. We’ve been doing reasonably well on that front at our community garden, as our cold frames are built from old windows and slats of wood found in skips, seedlings warmed within re-used plastic bottle propagators, and four compost bins in action. We didn’t encounter too many pest problems this year. Our biggest issue was really slugs which, to be honest, we’re still working on. Next year I want to try laying down oats around the edge of each leafy greens bed. Allegedly slugs don’t like crawling through them. The texture is unappealing. We’ll see. Anyway. I digress.

Our food security depends on global crop diversity, which is immediately threatened by GM bio-tech companies who have invested in the propagation of the same crops worldwide. Nature relies upon diversity and adaptation, not uniformity. The targeted pesticides that many people use in the back gardens destroys the diverse links between plants, and eliminates specific plants in favor of others. A UN FAO report suggests that we have lost 75% of our crop diversity globally. We’re increasingly unprepared for crises, and we should all remember that no one is immune. Pakistan recently lost 3/4 of its harvest in the floods. 3/4 of its harvest! That is unfathomable not only to the Pakistani people, but to our food markets. As climate change creates more dramatic weather, the homogenous food systems we’ve created are going to crumble and leave us, um, a bit screwed.

But gardening organically is a way that we can all try to take back control of the situation. One of the reasons I like growing my own food is that it allows me to regain autonomy from food production systems beyond my control.  Garden Organic itself maintains the Heritage Seed Library, storing as many types of seeds as possible, from past and present. They are currently heading a project in Warwickshire, collecting seeds from the immigrant community and storing up their exotic plants in the library as well. The more seeds we can save, the better off we might be in the future. Pesticides, again, threaten this vital plant diversity.

One of the most encouraging aspects of this talk, for me, was that the audience was mostly people 40+. In my experience, older gardeners tend to be the hardest people to talk into using organic methods whereas younger gardeners are now entering the gardening world at a time when organic methods have become mainstream. At the same time, Bob pointed out that the membership age of Garden Organic is just continually increasing. People tend not to get terribly interested in growing things until they are over thirty five. (My twenty five year old self felt simultaneously smug and crotchety.)

The truth of the matter is that it is easy to read about gardening on the internet and say, “I’m going to be all organic! I am better than weedkiller! I will rise above!” But once you get out there and you’re trying desperately to keep your plants alive through a scourge of wooly aphids, poisons are awfully tempting. Bob noted tonight that in many ways organic gardening is a cause. Farmers don’t grow organically because it’s easy – it takes research and it takes time to know plants in a way that we have almost entirely lost in the face of insecticide and toxins. (Check out Tiny Farm Blog – a Canadian organic micro-farm with tales of picking beetles off potatoes by hand… all in the name of love of the plant, and better food). In order to make growing organically more appealing, we need organic growers to come together and exchange ideas, techniques. We need to pool information and democratise gardening knowledge.

We’re starting on a local level in Ealing. Maybe that’s the best place to begin the process of re-education and re-skilling. Garden Organic’s website is a digital, nationalised tool, albeit for a fee. Real democratisation of information will mean it’s free. Won’t it? Or will it?