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We Bonned the Fire

Fellow Allotmenteers,

Thanks again for coming to our bonfire last Friday! What a great way to wind down during this stressful period!

Thanks to all of you who came down and brought food. Thank you also to all those who shared their music, rap, poetry, etc… It was sustenance to the ears and the brain- the heart, too, was not left untouched!

Come throw your eye at these, jump in the daal pot and get a taste of what we were up to:

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What a bunch of goofballs!!!

See you soon for some flavoursome fun as we start to organise group dinners using our very own produce!

Love,
A-Leeks

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Update! get your diaries out

Hello little saplings,

This is my first email as the allotment’s secretary and it’s a pleasure to be gracing your inboxes!

It was a lovely session last week, the clouds rolled by and the shed got a new coat of preserver to bundle up warm against the forever changing weather.

We had some tea and coffee too!

Last week was also the week in which a few of us got together for an allotment meeting where we discussed a number of exciting projects and events for the coming months. (Thank you to Rhal for letting us use your kitchen!)

We discussed workshops – getting experts and passionate vegetable lovers in to impart their wisdom of sowing, sprouting, companion planting, foraging – anything that will get dirt in our nails and nature in our souls!

A number of events were proposed such as bonfires, art installation and poetry readings AND the very exciting topic of the summer trip. As soon as dates and locations are fully formed the information will be flooding your inboxes and Facebook pages.

We also spoke about a possible day trip to the canalside farm near Leamington. It’d be a really nice chance for a few of us to get together, walk down the canal and pick some fruit and veg in return for fruit and veg.

After the success of last year we’re planning on getting children from near by schools down to the allotment to sprout the seeds of nature loving early. We have a few volunteers so far but if anyone would like to get involved please message us! You won’t need an in depth knowledge of the allotment or methods, just a friendly face and a little bit of time.

But, the moment you’ve all been waiting for – what veg shall we be planting this year? We discussed everything from courgettes to kale, sweet corn to swedes and even a few interesting choices like kiwis and quinoa! The full list can be found here but in the mean time here is a little collage of some of my favourites.

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And, just before I say farewell and sign off – here is a little bit of earth based music to get you stretching out those leaves and sprouting inspiration:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-lSg6srt8rU

Love, 

Allotment Soc xxx

Cold Feet

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Allotmenteer- hello~ 

What lovely weather we’ve had last week! Cold sun- bitter and sweet, as we like it. Okay, sure- our feet went numb because it was so chilly and we decided to call it a day a bit early. It was a very enjoyable session nonetheless. 

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Here we are, tucking in our wee baby garlics for winter. Sleep tight and grow well ~ climate change is messing up your growth spurt, I know, but in the meantime, try and get some rest. 

As you know, we cancelled the meeting last week. Too few people could make it and some of us were a bit ill from the sudden temperature drop. The meeting has been moved to this week, Wednesday 27th at 4PM in Rhal’s kitchen (Arthur Vick, Block 1, Kitchen 2). That’s right across from the allotment so we’ll head straight there. 

Also- next session we’ll be painting the shed to make it waterproof, so don’t wear super nice clothes… unless you fancy looking like a debauched artist. Up to you! 

Catch ya later, parsnips~ 

Allotment Soc xxx

PS- Here’s a fun game for you: Send me a picture of your favourite plant, telling me a bit about it. Best submissions will be mentioned in the next email/post! Here’s mine:

old black & white copy scan picture of ROBERT PLANT  musician

It’s a rare Robert Plant. Latin name Robertus plantus. Grows exceptional foliage. I mean, look at that hair.

 

There’s dirt under your fingernails- and that’s a good thing

Hey Parsnips,
How are you? Are you feeling the toll of term two already? I am. But follow nature’s call, take a walk, clear your head, turn the compost, churn the soil!

Play this to the plants on your windowsill, and then play it to yourself. And watch your limbs grow, reaching for some sunlight and a breath of fresh oxygen (song courtesy of fellow plant-lover and allotment fairy Harriet Crisp).

Here’s what’s going on this week:

Come to our work session tomorrow (2-4PM usual time) and then head off to R1.15 in Ramphal for a wee meeting, starting at 4. We’ll be talking about what you want to learn, what you want to do with your hands (oh pretty pretty 10 digits, how you hold the shovel! How you hold the saw!), and what you want to grow in the allotment (though it’s a bit early for that). I also want you to start thinking about joining the exec for next term, especially if you’re of the fresh type! You don’t need to be an experienced gardener, just an enthusiastic one!

 

And here are some tips we learnt last week from Master Gardener Dr Maughan:

How do you prune soft fruit bushes?
Simple! Cut back the old stalks to the ground and tie up the new ones.
sure but…. how do you recognise an old stalk from a new stalk?

Here’s a picture of an old stalk (and a rare Harriet plant):

It has no buds and it feels tough.

A new stalk has little buds and the surface is covered wth soft down.

This way, you’ll be able to enjoy delicious raspberries in the summer!

Big Allotment Love xxx
A-Leeks

Happy Holidays and Welcome Back!

Hello pumpkins~ 

Welcome back! I hope that you’ve rested well, and seen those you love and those who love you. 

Are you ready to get digging? In a couple months, we’re going to be busy bees, sowing through the season, but for now, we must plan. We must learn. We must grow. 

I invite you to join us next week after the allotment session for a wee meeting to talk about things, the stuff you’d like to learn this term, the things you’d like to see happening in the garden, etc… I’ll send out an email closer to the date with the room number and the time! Do keep an eye out! 

Our usual session time will keep on going: Wednesdays 2-4PM. 

Here are some tasks we could be doing in the lovely month of Jan: 

– mulching the beds with leaves

– cleaning out the shed + reordering

– turning over the compost

– pruning the trees and fruit bushes

– work some more on our polytunnel 

That’s all for now folks! 

But before I go, here’s a picture of a pretty onion, garlic, rosemary and olive tart I made for the holidays! Yummmehhhh!

onion tart 

Blessed be you and all that you love, 

THE ALLOTMENT xxxxx

Life Under the Plastic

<taken from the Food Union Blog, from the Pod in Coventry> 

Anyone got any idea what this is…?

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This is the Province of Almeria, in Spain. According to some sources, and as you can see from the picture, upwards of 75% of the region is covered in polythene greenhouses. The principal reason for their concentration here is to take advantage of the region’s remarkable weather conditions: only 35 days of annual cloud cover. With such large quantities of sunlight, the Almerian farmers are able to grow all the way through the year, and to supply the European and world agricultural markets with fresh fruit and veg, even in the darkest depths of winter. Chances are if you’ve eaten a fresh tomato in January it’s come from Almeria, Spain.

End of story…? Absolutely not. Certainly, the agricultural businesses and trade officials in the region would have us believe such a system is (far from the ecological and social nightmare it appears to be) kind to the environment, fair to its workers, and a sensible solution to the expanding global demand for year-round, affordable fresh fruit and veg. A short documentary (2008), produced by ‘El Ejido, Almeria’, makes numerous claims as to the environmental sustainability, labour standards, and increasingly urgent need for such intensive production regimes. What possible reason would they have to mislead us? Check out the documentary here and decide for yourself. If you can stomach its unsettlingly utopian tone, it’s actually very interesting.

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Thankfully, ‘El Ejido, Almeria’ aren’t the only ones with an opinion on Almeria’s agricultural industry. Taking a somewhat different approach to El Ejido, The Law of Profit (2011), examines the conditions endured by Moroccan migrant workers, many undocumented, who work in Almeria’s greenhouses. These workers are rarely offered permanent contracts, work for no more than 30 Euros a day, in temperatures between 40°C and 45°C, and often live in appalling conditions, cut off from electricity, running water, and basic communications networks. Added to this they are roundly despised, not only by the people they work for, but by local community members as well. The precarious position in the global market held by the region’s agricultural industry (directly or indirectly, around 70% of residents depend on the greenhouses for their living) appears to be a deeply corrosive one, making those who depend on and profit from it unable to see the instrumental role such exploitation plays in the financial viability of such a system.

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The Law of Profit paints a picture of a deeply dysfunctional, corrupt and cruel industry propelled maddeningly by the deep contradictions of modern industrial agriculture – contradictions not unlike those found in many other key centres of intensive agricultural production (see the role of undocumented migrant workers in Florida, for example, and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers). In contrast to the dubious claims of ‘El Ejido, Almeria’, The Law of Profit, shows us evidence a country littered with polythene refuse and shanti towns, an industry deeply reliant on chemical pesticides (which, among other things, leach into the local water supply), and a whole region locked into a fragile economic niche, liable to collapse should currently favourable trade conditions change or (god forbid) the climate begin to shift.

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As ever, when talking about the global food system this is not about blaming individuals – whether the farmers, the (often) unwitting consumers, or the destitute labour force – but about us asking if we are prepared to accept these conditions either on humanitarian, environmental or political grounds. Another world of agricultural production is possible. I have mentioned before the excellent work done by the Land Workers’ Alliance in rebuilding strength among small-scale and localised farming in the UK, and CSAs like Canalside in Leamington and Five Acre Farm in Ryton who produce excellent, affordable organic veg all year round AND foster strong community at the same time.

As to what has set in motion the cascading migrant crises currently visible across Europe and beyond …? I have to think a little more about that, but I’m sure it has something to do with climate change.

Harvest Festival 2013 Video

In the light of this upcoming new academic year, we uncovered this gem for you! Our friend Robbie Foulston made this beautiful video a couple of years ago. **Music by the talented Lewis Smith**

We have a shed load of events coming up, so do keep your eyes peeled… maybe another Harvest Festival…?!

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