Lewes Community Allotment

Allotment news - Conservation Volunteer-mended steps and pathways & a new bench

NEWLY-MENDED PATHS AND STEPS

There's been some hard work going on by a team from TCV (The Conservation Volunteers), led by senior officer Tim Hills. They have fixed the steps leading down to the tap. Lewes Town Council have been kind enough to help fund this.

The TCV team have also been mending and improving our paths, which, alongside Lewes Town Ranger's regular strimming of them, has made them safer and more accessible. They've made the slope much safer, with a chestnut frame, widened some paths, flattened the camber.  We're very pleased that our Lottery funding allows us to do this.

Thanks guys!

NEW BENCH

We have a lovely new and beautifully long bench at the allotment! It's thanks to a very kind donation by Transition Town Lewes, and the timing couldn't be better, because our old benches, having provided long service in the almost 20 years that Common Cause have run the community allotment, are reaching the end of their lives.

This sturdy new bench will benefit all of the groups that use the site; the weekly groups from the St Nicholas Day Centre and the Plumpton College Rural Pathways students, as well as others.

Members and project users come along and work very hard, so having a really good place to sit and rest, and enjoy the beautiful view, is important.

We're hoping to fashion seat cushions of some description, perhaps from wool from Owena's sheep at Baulcombes Barn. She's made some for her own benches with her peg loom, so that might be an excellent winter project.

Taster session with the Download Group

We were delighted to welcome the Sussex Partnership Recovery College Download Group to the Allotment in July.

They came for a taster session - and taste is what they did! After we'd done some introductions and talked about our favourite seasons, we went round the allotment tasting different fruits and vegetables. These included: Japanese wineberries, cloudberries, raspberries, plus fennel, parsley and nasturtium flowers (which are quite peppery!).

We also looked for wildlife at the allotment.

After we'd done the tasting and looking for wildlife, we went into the shelter for some drinks (Sarah had made some delicious blackcurrant cordial) and some wonderful blackberry crunch bars and raspberry buns made by Felicity Ann with berries from the Allotment.

Find out more about the Recovery College on their website here

Pruning fruit trees at the Allotment with Peter May

We held a special event at the Community Allotment monthly Saturday session in July (2-4pm, last Saturday of the month, May-November). We had invited apple expert Peter May to talk to us about how to prune fruit trees, and several regular Allotment members as well as some visitors came along to learn from him. One had a dog with her.

Peter said that fruit trees need pruning twice a year, in summer and winter. He then demonstrated how to summer-prune some of our cherry trees and apple trees in a way which allows the fruit to grow most successfully and gives the overall tree a good shape as it grows. 

When it started to pour with rain, we went under the shelter where Peter showed us how to take apart and clean secateurs, and sharpen pruning knives. He demonstrated wetstone sharpening with carburundem. We all had a go, but felt we probably wouldn't be brave enough to take our own secateurs apart without fear we'd never put them back together correctly afterwards!

After a hot drink and a biscuit, we braved the rain and took a tarpaulin out to stand under whilst looking at the pear tree. It has been blown into a rakish angle - and Peter advised how to train it as a cordon. 

Rural Pathways groups - Last Session Celebrations

It's been a great pleasure for Flourish, running regular sessions for groups of Rural Pathways students from Plumpton College at Lewes Community Allotment and Baulcombes Barn. The young people have all worked very hard and got a lot of work done. So to thank them, we had celebrations of their time with us at their last sessions.

Lewes Community Allotment's group's last session.

First of all we did some work, such as weeding, then we stopped and had a visit from a friendly cat.

Then we enjoyed some Ringmer Community Orchard juice, or water, as well as a lovely feast of cheese, quiche, chopped veggies, hummus and homemade samosas brought by Niyati. Then allotment member Karine came along with a spectacular cake to thank the students for all their hard clearing work at the Allotment, which the members have really appreciated.

Finally, Common Cause director Topsy Jewell presented everyone with their own certificate that Emma had brought along.

Baulcombes Barn last session

 

 

At the last session at Baulcombes Barn, first we did some work on the farm. So we split up into groups and either collected eggs or fed the pigs.

Then we went back to enjoy some burgers in rolls or pitta made from Owena's pork, as well as freshly boiled eggs from her community hens, washing down with apple juice from Ringmer Community Orchard. 

It was a lovely way to say thank you and goodbye to the group, who have all been brilliant.

Michael Blencowe from Sussex Wildlife on bugs & butterflies

Today the St Nick's group came up on a sunny but blustery day for a bug and butterfly session with our old friend, Michael Blencowe from Sussex Wildlife.

We walked around the allotment with him as our guide, looking for bugs, catching them sometimes to see them, then letting them go. We also walked up the path outside the allotment. He pointed out various birds as we walked around, including a wren, and wood pigeons.

We saw a dock bug. We learnt that some bugs and beetles take on the look of a wasp to protect themselves - including the wasp beetle and the hover-fly, both of which he showed us.

We saw a hawthorn shield bug.

We were surprised to hear that there are 3,000 varieties of beetle in Sussex alone. He showed us an asparagus beetle, a wasp beetle,  a long horned beetle,  a pretty swollen-thighed beetle and a rose-chafer beetle.

He told us that foxgloves, which we have by the ponds, are good for bees.

Sarah mentioned that the broccoli is covered up to stop pigeons and cabbage white butterflies from eating it all.

Michael showed us a mullion caterpillar on the plant of same name. We saw an ichneuman wasp. We also spotted a rare small blue butterfly.

Finally, we were delighted to get our copy of his wonderful new Sussex Butterflies book, which he kindly signed.

A new allotment group from St Nicholas visit Baulcombes Barn

Have a look through our slideshow of St Nicholas Day Centre members' recent visit to the farm

It was lovely to welcome the new St Nicholas Day Centre allotment group to Baulcombes Barn for a visit. It was a sunny morning. The Bluebell group were there to meet them, and had brought cakes. I brought apple juice from Ringmer Community Orchard, made by another Flourish group. Owena had cooked food to try, including pieces of her own chorizo sausage, pork sausage and pieces of hogget (one year old lamb), plus some goats’ cheese made by a friend of Owena. So after introducing ourselves, we started off with a delicious mini-feast.

Owena explained the safety rules of the farm, such as not eating or taking human food near the animals, washing hands after touching animals, closing gates, being quiet around the animals so as not to scare them, not going behind horses (in case they kick) and being careful of slipping on poo or uneven ground.

Then we put boots on and went out to visit the farm animals that Owena had kindly brought to the area near the hut so that the group could meet them without going through the fields.

Some of the new group were not familiar with touching or feeding farm animals, so it took some courage to come forward and do that. Sue and others from Bluebell were very kind and helpful with the St Nicks group members.

We started off by looking at a swallow’s nest in a stable, then fed the chickens. We saw some of the new lambs and their mums, and fed two of the sheep with pellets. Then we took a wheelbarrow full of nettles to Penny and her two remaining piglets. Finally we went to see the ponies, caught Jerry up in a head collar and member of the St Nicholas Group come and patted him.

We finished by a visit to the wildlife-rich pond for a little sit in the sunshine whilst St Nicks waited for the minibus. Some of the newts had been eaten by a heron that morning unfortunately, but it was a beautiful and peaceful spot for a rest.

Emma Chaplin

Flourish Project Manager

News from the Allotment

See the slideshow below...

By Sarah Rideout

Last week, we enjoyed the lovely blossom coming out on the crab apple tree by the gate.

On Tuesday, we had a visit from Victoria Williams, director of Food Matters, who develop Brighton and Hove Food Partnership projects. They do great work, including running cooking and gardening sessions for people with dementia.

On Wednesday, we were very pleased to show off our beautiful hand made tripod and trivet, made by Ian The Luddite. They will be most helpful for future Fire and Feast events. 

We also enjoyed a visit from a four-legged new helper!

Lots of hard work went on at the regular sessions with both groups as you can see.  

We went to take a look at the Rangers putting in a new kissing gate in the adjacent field. Later we rather rather cheekily borrowed their drill and some screws to fix one of the raised beds!

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

Easter Fire and Feast with Chloe Edwards

Chloe Edwards from Seven Sisters Spices joined us for the morning at our Community Allotment for a Fire and Feast event just before Easter. We had our usual Wednesday morning group from the St Nicholas Day Centre, and Chloe showed us all how to chop (the safe 'bridge' method using the whole hand to hold the vegetable, to prevent slipping and injury) and also mashing, to prepare a delicious meal of bean burgers and tasty salads.

We got the fire going early and by the time the food was ready to cook, the fire was down to nice hot embers, perfect for cooking.

With bean burgers sizzling and buns toasting, we made the finishing touches to tzatziki (yoghurt, mint and cucumber), a pickling salad of radish and carrot, tomato salad and just-picked green salad, all with guidance from Chloe.

Then we enjoyed sharing the lovely food and having a chat in the fresh air.

Thanks to Eleanor, Emmanuel, Felicity Ann and Maggie for helping out.

Sarah Rideout, LCA coordinator, April 2017

Have a look through our photos of the event. Some were taken by us, some by Chloe.

A sunny April day at the Allotment

What a lovely morning at the Allotment. Here's Andy, planting our new plum tree from Woodruff's

And here's a common lizard sunbathing on a tyre - all pics from allotment coordinator Sarah Rideout

And here are some of our allotment members, working hard

And here are some of our allotment members, working hard

Project User Group Session

Here are some photos from our Project User Group meeting hosted by the Lewes Community Allotment on the morning of Wednesday 15 March 2017

Allotment coordinator Sarah and Flourish project manager Emma were delighted to welcome members of Bluebell House Recovery Centre to Lewes Community Allotment (LCA) for a project user group meeting. The Bluebell group normally attend sessions at Baulcombes Barn with Owena. All in all, we had 22 people come along, including clients from the St Nicholas Day Centre, our sessional worker Felicity Ann, LCA members and support staff from all the projects.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. We all introduced ourselves and put on name labels. Hollie helped Emma to do this. Emma gave everyone a copy of the new Flourish ethos and asked them to think about it and comment on it at the end, or afterwards, if they had views. The ethos says: “We create a safe but challenging outdoor experience where participants can learn and develop skills, gain confidence and a deeper understanding of themselves and others, while widening their opportunities in the community.”

Sarah then took a group for a tour of the allotment, including the lovely new shed. She showed off our new willow hurdles for the vegetable beds, made from willow picked at Baulcombes Barn. Sarah explained that, after we stopped for refreshments (apple juice from Ringmer Community Orchard, tea and delicious nettle and cheese scones, made by Felicity Ann), she was happy to demonstrate how to do the willow weaving with anyone interested.  

As we ate our scones and drank our juice, people chatted about various things, including the ten piglets who had just been born at Owena's. The mum is Penny. Baulcombes also has a newly arrived black horse called Jerry, who seems to be ruling the roost with the other ponies, Tallulah, Frankie and Buster. The chickens are now free to range again. Owena told everyone, after being kept in the polytunnel during concerns about avian flu being spread by wild birds. she did feel, however, that the hens had rather enjoyed being in the polytunnel, so she's keeping it up.

A couple of people from Bluebell House, Ashley and Sue, took Sarah up on her offer to show them how to make willow hurdles..

The feedback about the ethos was positive "I think that says exactly what we do"  "I wouldn't change it. It seems right to me", so it was agreed the Flourish would adopt it as it is.

It was a truly delightful morning. Lovely to see people chatting and enjoying the sunshine.

Willow hurdle making with Lewes Community Allotment members

We'd seen some excellent work at the Community Allotment making willow hurdles to protect the beds by Plumpton College students. Then our members gave it a try - also with great results. 

Making willow hurdles at the Allotment

A slideshow of our willow weaving session

On a wild and stormy afternoon, with Hurricane Doris on the way, the Plumpton Rural Pathways group arrived at Lewes Community Allotment, carrying bundles of willow they had cut two weeks ago at Owena's smallholding, Baulcombes Barn. Local basket maker Sarah Lawrence was on hand to show them how to weave the willow into hurdles to edge the flower and vegetable beds, to keep the soil in. 

She began by talking about health and safety - particularly with sharp secateurs and working with long pieces of willow that tend to whip about and can damage eyes.  

We split into different groups to do different tasks.

Sarah told the weaving group that we needed to find the fattest lengths first to slot into the wooden frame that Neil Merchant had kindly made for us to allow us to make the willow hurdle structures. These pieces of willow were then cut with loppers to equal lengths. 

Sarah said we needed to be careful to keep the outside structural ends straight and upright whilst we wove thinner pieces across them so they don't pull together and make a triangle. We then took turns to weave the willow pieces across between the uprights, turning at the ends, doing it in pairs at each end one at a time, changing which side of the hurdle we started with each time for stability, and pushing the willow down each time. 

We loved the different colours of the willow. We all had a go and were really pleased with how it worked out.

Sarah had also brought a paint tin lid opening tool for making holes in ground to make a hurdle straight into the earth, and she showed another group how to do that!

The other groups got on with some excellent tidying and trimming back work.

Emma Chaplin