Posts Tagged ‘Community gardening’
More of the fun collection of short films about Transition.
Film Four – An Egg Origin: Transition Town Forres’s Community Garden
Like many Transition initiatives, Transition Town Forres (TTF) saw the rebuilding of food resilience as a key part of its work. It sought to bring land into community management for new food production. TTF was invited to negotiate a lease with Moray Council for 0.59ha (1.45 acre) of horticultural land starting on the 1st April 2009.
With an 11 year lease, work began on the site. Rather than divide it into the traditional rectangles of allotments, it was divided into circular allotments, called ‘pods’, each one 250m2, and shared by 4-6 people. The garden now has 75 gardeners, 60 local scouts and 26 chickens (hence the egg). Participation is from a broad cross section of the community, and the dropout rate has been less than half that of other local allotments. The next step that is planned is a Farmers’ Market in the town.
Film Five – Mini Draughtbusters Origin: Transition Belsize’s Draughtbusters
Transition Belsize, one of over 40 Transition initiatives active within London, was inspired by ‘Draught Busting Saturdays’ created in South London by Sue Sheehan and a group from Hyde Farm Climate Action Network. They started working with Camden Council to deliver Draughtbusters in Belsize. The idea is a simple one. The area has many Victorian homes with leaky sash and casement windows.
Up to 15 people meet in someone’s house and learn to draught-proof by working on the host’s house. The host gets given £50 of materials, and the participants £20 worth each. It has proven very popular, and 15 local schools have also been draught-proofed by keen Draughtbusters. It has now spread to many other London Transition groups, just one example of how Transition groups can incubate ideas that can then be rapidly replicated by others. Our object here is a miniature version of the Draughtbusters team: Patrick (doing the door) and Sarah and Lauren (working on the window).
Film Six – A Clove of Garlic Origin: The Green Valley Grocer, Slaithwaite
When the local greengrocer went out of business, members of Marsden and Slaithwaite Transition Towns (MASTT) in Yorkshire wondered if perhaps the community might take over the running of the shop. They realised this would only work with the support of the community so they held a public meeting where people expressed enthusiasm for the idea.
Time was tight, so they set up an Industrial and Provident Society and designed a share launch which was unveiled three weeks later. The goal was to raise £15,000, and this was achieved within 10 days.
From initial idea to the shop opening? Two months. The shop is now a busy thriving community enterprise, and MASTT is setting up a growing co-operative called ‘Edibles’ to supply the shop with local produce.
Early on in running the shop, they found that all the wholesale garlic available to them was imported from China, and so they set up the Green Valley Grocer Garlic Challenge, making garlic cloves available to customers at cost and offering to buy back whatever people produce, with the aim of making Slaithwaite self-sufficient in garlic within two years (well you have to start somewhere…).
The final four films will be shown shortly after Christmas.
The powerful story about how food could change
Yesterday, I referred to a piece on the Chris Martenson blog about Joel Salatin, proprietor of Polyface Farms. I want to stay with the theme of food, and the growing thereof, as this is yet another critically important aspect of how we all have to change our attitudes and behaviours in the face of a growing ecological disaster.
I’m using a recent item presented by Rob Hopkins of Transition UK fame. The link to the full piece is here but I am presenting some extracts and further links in this article.
A while ago I was sent a book called ‘SPIN farming basics: how to grow commercially on under an acre’ by Wally Satzewich and Roxanne Christensen. The book describes itself as a “step-by-step learning guide to the sub-acre production system that makes it possible to gross $50,000+ from a half-acre”. SPIN, which stands for ‘SmallPlot Intensive’ (their website is here), has the feel of an important, big, and timely idea, and it is one that fits into Transition beautifully. So what is it?
At the moment, when contemplating urban food production, the models that are used tend to be allotments, community gardens, planting productive trees or forest gardens, private gardens or even, perhaps, rooftop gardens. Commercial urban market gardens tend to be thought of as needing to be on a larger scale and requiring significant infrastructure. SPIN is based on the idea of ‘patchwork farming’, of seeing unused areas of urban land as having the potential to be worked commercially, viewed through the eyes of a commercial grower rather than someone growing for a hobby. This is a profound shift of emphasis and one that I find very exciting. Here is a short talk by SPIN farmer Paula Sobie of City Harvest which gives her take on what SPIN farming is:
Let me quote how that article from Rob concludes,
‘SPIN farming basics’ is just one of the books that SPIN produce. It isn’t a step-by-step growing guide, rather it is an overview book on how to run such an operation. I have no way of gauging whether their figures are accurate and how they might translate into the UK context. I’m also not sure what they do about slugs. There is also, I guess, a distant danger that should this really take off it might edge out more egalitarian forms of urban land use, such as allotments and community gardens. But even if they are only half right about their potential yields, it is still an impressive approach, and it calls for a powerful shift in focus for urban growers. In the wake of the recent riots in a number of English cities, I am struck by the potential of this approach to shift thinking about how to create viable social enterprises and a sense of purpose for young people. It has certainly got my brain ticking over pretty rapidly.
As the authors put it, “once you put on SPIN glasses, you start seeing dollar signs all over vacant and underutilised patches of land”. As economic contraction worsens, and peak oil starts to bite, this form of land use will become the norm, as it has done every time in history that societies have faced similar sets of circumstances. The obstacle to getting started has always been how to make this stuff viable. That obstacle, thanks to the work of the SPIN folks, would appear to no longer exist, or at least to be greatly diminished. If you don’t do it someone else will, and they likely won’t do it in a way rooted in social justice, community benefit, food security and Transition. This is an important window in time to get moving on this.
This is a revolutionary text, an incendiary call to rethink urban land use in a way that ticks everyone’s boxes. I can’t recommend it too highly.
It is rather hard to tell from the SPIN website which of the books they offer is this one… so for the last time ever, here is a link to the book on Amazon…. it is quite pricey, but one to get and share with as many people as you can…
The SPIN Farming website is chock full of fantastic ideas, advice and guidance. Website is here. From which you will understand,
THINKING OF FARMING? THINK AGAIN.
There’s a new way to farm. It’s called SPIN, and it is causing people to re-think not only how to farm, but what it means to be a farmer today.
- Some practice SPIN in their backyards in the city. Others do it on front lawns in the suburbs.
- Some do it part-time, others full-time.
- Some are young and just starting out, while others are older and on their third or fourth careers.
- Some have more money than they know what to do with, and others have less than they need.
- Some are convinced the world is doomed, while others are trying to save it.
What unites them all is a calling to farm.
If you want to follow your calling, follow the system that shows you how to make money farming.
It’s one of the many beams from that wonderful rainbow just over the horizon!