Southend Radical Fair

Come along, get involved and start to make a difference! 2017 looks set to be a historically turbulent, crisis ridden year. It would be easy to give up on any attempt at changing the world for the better. Fortunately, there are a number of groups and individuals in Southend and the surrounding areas who see things differently. They’re working at grassroots level on projects to bring about change. We’re holding the Southend Radical Fair to let people there are positive alternatives to the prevailing climate of despair – this is your chance to see what’s on offer. There will be stalls by active local groups, meetings, workshops and coaching sessions to inform you and help you to get involved in changing the world. The event will be held upstairs, we apologise for the lack of disabled access and aim to do better next year. Download PDFs to help publicise the Fair: A5 Flyers – Two Colour Front A5 Flyers – Black Back Radical Fair Programme Download Programme   … [Read more…]

Gozo Growing #4 : April 2017

What a difference a year makes! Twelve months on we have just about recovered from one of the worst droughts the island of Gozo had experienced in a very long time. The good news is that over the previous winter and into this Spring, we have had good spells of rain, and even hail, as intense showers or dramatic thunderstorms lasting for just a few minutes passed over the Maltese Islands. The impact of the rain has been amazing and the countryside around our village has been transformed into a green and floral delight – with wildflowers, bulbs and trees seemingly in bloom across large parts of the Gozitan countryside. On our plot, the organic methods we have been using for over a year now – i.e. mulching, raised bed systems, crop rotation and composting, companion planting and wild flower/ wildlife-friendly zones have started to pay dividends – with good crop yields and noticeably less pest damage. We have started to better understand the impact of localised weather patterns and also how the soil properties vary within and across the plot. We have created some “soft” windbreaks made from locally grown Arundo donax (reeds) and by leaving wildflower areas and borders to act as barriers to further reduce wind damage. Plastic netting has also helped to reduce both wind and pest damage, particularly for young plants and seedlings. Water (or the lack of it) remains an issue. There is no supply on site, so we recycle any grey water or collected rain water from our house roof and have been experimenting with some simple DIY “terracotta technology” using unglazed pots to try out an olla watering system for our strawberry beds (see this link for more info). Having water and a wide range of wildflowers and weeds on the plot means we attract a lot of bees, particularly Mason Bees, Honey Bees, Carpenter Bees and Paddling Pool Bees (OK so I made the last one up, but you get the picture!). We found out by using a shallow dish filled with marbles and rain water, bees were literally queuing up for a drink and not throwing themselves into our buckets of the grey water and getting very annoyed. Happy bees also help us with plot pollination too! To set up a bee drinking pool follow this link. Currently on the plot we are harvesting Beetroot, Rainbow Chard, Purple and Curly Kale, Potatoes, Leeks, Broad Beans, Strawberries, Red and White Cabbage, Lettuce, Peas and herbs such as Chives, Rosemary, Sage, Rocket, Penny Royal and Coriander. Later on we will be enjoying Tomatoes (two new varieties), Squash, Physalis, Radish, Kohl Rabi and Lab Lab Beans, which have all been planted recently to aim for continuous harvesting and summer cropping. Attached are a few recent photos of the plot to show you how things are looking right now. Simon & Mary Wallace, cats x2 Ta’Bepxi, Qala, Gozo … [Read more…]

The First Community Farm in Essex

Help Create the First Community Owned Farm Business in Essex! Lauriston Farm, on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex, is doing something very different to embrace farm succession and secure the long term viability of the small, family owned biodynamic farm. It has created a Charitable Community Benefit Society to allow a community owned business to be formed and is embracing a five year business plan called The Lauriston Social Farming Initiative. You can become a shareholder in this new co-operative, not for profit business and connect directly with a vibrant, conservation orientated farm serving the local community. Pledges for shares are going well – 60% of our initial £20,000 target has been reached.  Now, by Saturday April 8th, we need to sell the remaining 40% to guarantee tripled match funding from Just Growth and the delivery of the five year business plan. 8,000 shares are available, each costing £1 – the minimum pledge is £100 (£50 concessionary) and the maximum £7,500. The outcomes from your pledge are detailed on our website. All our plans are detailed on our website but do contact us with any questions – no funds are drawn down until the share offer closes and we have contacted you with our exact position.  With love from all at Lauriston.   … [Read more…]

Family plot begins to take shape on the SiT Community Allotment

News from the Southend in Transition Community Allotment – by Duncan Work day on the new family plot. Jobs: till over area to be grass seeded, we were kindly donated a 2 stroke micro-rotovator by SEE Green party. The plot had begun to cover herself with greenery (some might say Weeds) we had to act fast before, Jim who single-handedly dug the entire plot over, the end of last year, might see. The little machine happily scrambled over the whole plot in double time and used only a couple of cups of petrol. Whilst the plot was being prepared, Freya on her first visit to the plot worked on the layout, among some fruit trees and raised veg beds she envisioned a sensory garden including, stepping-stones, wind chimes, bunting, aromatic herbs and plants. Watch out grand designs. A promising discovery of several happy slow worm specimens cruising around the soon to be grass seeded area, we were more vigilant with the machinery after the first meeting with these handsome friendly guys. This particularly gregarious boy or girl slow worm gave us a Celtic cross. You can see and read more by visiting the SiT Community website, via this link.  … [Read more…]