community gardens

New St Nicholas group at the Allotment - colours and wasps

Emma Chaplin

Today was a little challenging, because Sarah discovered that we have a wasps' next at the allotment, in the raised beds, so Sarah was very careful about working with the new St Nicholas Centre group away from that area until the Council are able to come (later in the day) to sort it out.

So, after taking the register half way down the plot, Sarah explained the Golden (safety) Rules to the group. These include being careful where they walk because the ground is uneven, not taking tools from the shed (Flourish put out the tools that are needed), wearing gloves when working with soil, washing hands, not running, being aware of the ponds etc, and reporting any injuries immediately to a staff member.

Then Felicity Ann handed out paper and pencils, and the group drew flowers, insects, birds, foxes. Whatever they wanted to. Sarah asked what colours they noticed. People mentioned red, green, white, orange, yellow and purple.

After that, Felicity Ann and Sarah took the group for a little walk to look at other allotments.

Sarah visits Rodmell Food Forest

Sarah Rideout, Feb 2018

I went along to Rodmell Food Forest in the snow. It was great to see what's going on at this wonderful project just down the road, and up the Downs...

I met the team, volunteer coordinator Luke Manders, plus volunteers, Sandra and John.

Rodmell Food Forest is at the top of Mill Lane, Rodmell, on privately-owned land. The space has been partly permaculture designed, and Luke is starting permaculture training soon to develop this path further. 

Although they have financial support at the moment, all involved were interested in discussing the different ways the project could go. 

Luke cooked a lovely veggie lunch and we talked about:

aims, outcomes, outputs - who's it for, what's the main purpose, what could be produced.

assets, limitations - great existing financed site with shelter, loo. Little public transport, non-accessible currently.

practicalities - risk assessment, public liability insurance, DBS etc.

connections - Brighton Permaculture Trust most logical, WWOOFers (Working on Organic Farms), local people (perhaps hold an event with food)

Other topics we discussed - the site aspect, crop rotation advice, growing methods, pond benefits

We walked around the whole site, it was very interesting to see how they are growing using Hugel beds (earth is piled on top of dead branches, organic matter, manure and soil on top). have been meaning to try this method for some time at Lewes Community Allotment!

It was a pleasure to visit, and I'm pleased to say they said that they found the visit very helpful: "Full of care, support and appreciation - lucky us!"

St Nicholas group go on a winter flower walk from the allotment

It was lovely to welcome back the St Nicholas Day Centre group for the first session of 2018, especially on such a bright, sunny day. The group came by bus with support worker Eleanor. Unfortunately Sarah the allotment coordinator wasn't well, but I was able to come (Flourish project manager), as was sessional worker Felicity Ann and volunteer Penny.

After we greeted each other in the shelter, we discussed what season it is (winter!), the fact that we'd had the shortest day in December, so the days were slowly getting longer, and how much we liked it when there was more light. We noted what the weather was like (sunny, with some clouds and gentle breeze. The temperature was 6 degrees according to Emma's phone). The Eleanor took the register. There were five in the group, with two absent. We realised it was Natasha's birthday, so we wished her a very happy birthday.

Felicity Ann then took all of us on a walk/hunt for winter flowers as well as a look at new life sprouting in the beds. We went around the allotment, noting flowers such as the catkins (male flower of the hazel), mallow and marigolds, all the winter veg and salads growing, and the measures put in place to keep cats off them.

Then we headed up the track to the old racecourse. It was a beautiful, bright, clear morning, listening to (and seeing birds - one in a tree had a beautiful, varied song - when we later asked Sussex Wildlife officer Michael Blencowe, he thought it might have been a fieldfare) and spotting winter flowers, such as gorse and violets.

It was a gorgeous walk, and we enjoyed the wonderful views across to sea and over the Downs. We even found an old horseshoe!

Thank you Felicity Ann and Penny

Emma Chaplin Jan 2018

Last session with St Nicholas group before Christmas - herbs, scones & lots of fun!

It was the last session before Christmas for the St Nicholas allotment group. Because the weather was so wet and windy, we held it in the day centre. Sarah and volunteer Penny went up to the allotment to pick some herbs and brought those down to make herb bundles. Project manager Emma came along with some Ringmer Community Orchard apple juice to share. Sadly sessional worker Felicity Ann wasn't able to come because of family illness, but she sent along some magnificent cheese and pumpkin scones and mince pies for the group to eat.

Some excellent festive hats were worn - including a splendid Christmas pudding tea cosy!

Everyone identified their own herb first, and smelled them, as well as sniffing some pieces of fir Sarah brought. Then the herbs (rosemary, bay, thyme and sage) were split into a bundle for everyone. Helped by Eleanor, Sarah and Penny, members of the group tied their own bundle with a piece of string and Emma helped them add a name tag. There was some lovely knot and bow work going on!

Then we played a Food Chain game, identifying what eats what. Then Sarah brought out an exciting box. Flourish had found everyone a little Christmas gift relating to wildlife. There were finger puppets and keyrings of bats, mice, rabbits and ladybirds, plus some bees.

Next we had some apple juice, scones and mince pies - and had a lovely surprise visit by John Parry who knew lots of members of the group from his time at the Railway Land. Also, Robert, who had been an allotment group member joined us for a little while.

Sarah showed a slideshow of  photos of 20 years of Lewes Community Allotment that Emma had compiled of photos taken by Sarah, herself and other members over the years.

It was a lovely morning.

Wishing everyone a peaceful Christmas and happy new year from everyone at Flourish.

Wishing everyone a peaceful Christmas and happy new year from everyone at Flourish.

Plot 22 visit: Flourishing at Lewes Community Allotment  

A guest post from Angela, one of the lovely Lady Gardeners from Plot 22, who recently visited Flourish recently

"Seven of us made our way from Hove to Lewes Community Allotment in early April (near the Nevill estate), where the Flourish project run regular sessions. As we were walking along by the other allotments, we were spotted by Emma, Project Manager of Flourish, standing up high, waving at us from Lewes Community Allotment. We could not miss her bright red coat and warm smile. She called us up the verge and we entered the allotment.

We were treated to hot cross buns and refreshing drinks. Sitting there under the large shelter, built from chestnut, we received an informative illustrated talk about the 19 year history of the allotment. Also the current usage of what grows well. Several herbs really like the chalk soil.

The view of the brow of the Downs that sunny glorious day was incredible. We saw a sheepdog herding sheep and a procession of horses riding by the perimeter fence.

Sarah Rideout,  the Flourish Allotment Co-ordinator, gave a very interesting and detailed tour of each small area of planting beds, sheds, picket fence story, pizza clay oven refurbishment project, willow fencing made on site... 

The blossom was about to burst on the trees. She showed us where the lizards like to stretch out on a disused tyre when it gets very hot.

We were meant to visit in February the same time Storm Doris hit the UK. So after being disappointed, our group re-arranged to come on this day which turned out to be more than perfect!  Everyone enjoyed themselves very much!"

Photos by Yvonne

A visit to Landport Community Garden

February 2017

I'd been wanting to visit the Landport Community Garden for a while (garden, not allotment note - that's intentional. They do grow fruit and veg, but they're happy for people to come along who just want to enjoy the space, perhaps make tea. You don't HAVE to garden to become a member).

A good reason to visit cropped up when we were thinking about the camping toilet we have on our Community Allotment, and wondering about the possibility of fundraising for a Thunderbox composting toilet.

I go along to meet David Gray, who got a group of people together to create the lovely walled garden five years ago, from what had basically been scrub land. He's pictured above with his beloved pond.

The first striking thing about the garden is the location. I assumed it would be part of the Landport allotments, but it's not. It's tucked away out of sight through a blue gate next to Landport Farmhouse at the end of Hayward Road.

I really like the peace and tranquillity here. I also like the pond, the arbour, the lawn with chairs, the fruit trees and the raspberry stakes along one wall. The bug hotel is very Lewes and fun, and the scarecrows make me smile.

David shows me round, including a peak into the Thunderbox composting toilet. It's wooden, self-assembly and up some steps (the company can do wheelchair accessible ones, but there are a lot more expensive). It's very nice. There is no smell whatsoever.

David explains that, over the years, they've had financial support from the Council and the National Lottery as well as donations. This has enabled them to create raised beds, similar to ours, as well as add a polytunnel, a shed and a shelter. Probationers helped build some of the raised beds and Sussex Downs students helped put up the polytunnel.

The Community Garden differs from our Community Allotment in a number of ways. Both are run along organic principles, have raised beds and welcome members of the community to come along. But the Landport Garden is tucked down low, and very sheltered. We are up on the Nevill, on the Downs, on chalk. We've got stunning views but the site is much more exposed. Having a polytunnel up there would be challenging. We are permitted to have campfires however, which the garden is not (they are next to residential properties, whereas we are not).

Neatly-hung spades and forks in the shed

Neatly-hung spades and forks in the shed

David explained that, after five years, he's handed the running of the garden over to Marina Pepper. Members meet there every Monday, between 11am-3.30pm, and anyone is welcome to drop in. It's free. People share the tea and biscuits fund. Produce is shared. For more information, and contact details, see the poster below:

Poster for the LCG sessions

Poster for the LCG sessions

Emma Chaplin