I’ve migrated!

Here. Just for kicks.

Dig days down the community orchard

Better late than never, as they say. The Lammas Community Orchard dig day went off without a hitch (though I wasn’t the person running back and forth from their house with a wheelbarrow full of shovels!)

We got rolling with a whole lot of families and twenty trees to be divvied up and planted. The hard labour of digging holes had been done the weekend before, which meant people could mostly rock up, choose a tree, and get to planting. Each family was able to take a tree and responsibility for it – not only so they could always find their tree and watch it grow, but so we might be able to chase someone down with subtle pruning tips!

I find the question of ownership and assigning responsibility quite interesting. It was a way to engage with kids – saying, here, label your tree. I know that that helps to allow kids to feel like they’ve been a part of something. But I wonder to what extent bringing concepts of ownership into a community project might be counterproductive. And yet at the same time, it needs to remain tangible to people living in a time so obsessed with private property, ownership. The word ownership begs the question – how much does ownership have to do with private, and how much does it have to do with responsibility? Can we redefine terms and concepts going forward? La de da da da. This is my self-indulgent wah wah paragraph. Done.

Something I think we’ve learned throughout all our community growing projects is that kids. are into. GROWING. Even if parents are only mildly interested, if you show a child a plum tree without fruit and say “this is where plums come from, what to help them grow?” the kids will go wild.

We’ll hopefully be launching a blog or similar for this project in the next few weeks. I’m trying to come up with a way to make it sufficiently collaborative between all the families contributing to the orchard without… chaos ensuing. What’s more, I think most people would be pretty happy to crowd-source information on caring for native fruit trees. I’m thinking maybe a community Flickr and some sort of Word Press blog riffing off of our Community Garden blog, where participants can comment on individual tips posted every couple of weeks.

But if anyone has good examples of fostering on-line communities around real-life collective projects, it would be great to see them. Share share share.

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?)

The Bombed Out Church

I’ve written here before about how I’m a bit “over” most popular British historical discussions of World War II. I’ve said the same thing about the Tudors and the Victorians. (Let’s pick another time period, people!) But last weekend’s visit to Liverpool included a trip to St. Luke’s Church, or “the bombed out church” as it’s known locally. It was a pretty cool little jaunt, and led to the discovery of a developing oral history project featuring a community that I always believe deserves more inclusion in stories beyond ship-building, the Beatles and the welfare state.

Liverpool was the most heavily bombed area outside London, and the first time I visited, HZD’s dad pointed out the visible alterations to the landscape that still exist along main roads leading in and out of the town – craters, evenly spaced modern buildings amidst old. St. Luke’s Church is one of the most striking remnants of the war – and made me think immediately of the metal fence posts in Hull that still haven’t been replaced sixty years later. HZD and his mum hadn’t been in before, and we actually had to sign a release saying that we wouldn’t sue if, uh, you know, it collapsed on us. There was a recommended one pound donation but that was it. And so we embarked on our hippie odyssey.

Urban Strawberry Lunch are a group of artists in residence at the church, holding performances and community gatherings. They showed love movies on Valentine’s Day. The place was full of Tsing Tao sponsored Chinese lanterns when we were there, along with reconstituted tables and buckets. The performance space at the front of the church looked a bit muddled, and they had sort of ambiant music pumping through the building when we visited. Urban Strawberry Lunch are also leading a Liverpool oral history project about the Blitz, called the Finest Hour Project. Their website is worth a look, as some of the audio files are publicly available for a listen on-line.

We visited at dusk, but that almost added to the mood of the place, with the roof still blasted off and charred beams still hanging from the walls.

This is definitely a curiosity worth visiting, and it would probably be a good idea to check out USL’s website just in the event you can have an ultra surreal experience at St. Luke’s by, I don’t know, going to watch Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.

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.

Liver liver lou

A couple of photos I’m lamely proud of from our trip to Liverpool this past weekend. It is my birthday this week and I needed birthday time with a momma, so I forced HZD to rent me his.

And it was good.