Sunday 10 June 2012

London Green Fair and Apple Day

Many thanks to Lewis from the London Orchard Project for an interesting and informative talk at this year's London Green Fair.

I already knew a fair amount about the Project, having attended one of their training events at Camley Road Nature Park in 2009.  I learned a lot then from the splendid Wade Muggleton about apple trees, and how they can come in different forms (for example, espalier, step over and fan), and even featured in a Permaculture magazine photo.  The main outcome however was the decision to run our own Apple Day as part of Transition Crouch End, which is now in its fourth year.  Amber, the other Project Manager has actually been to one of our events and remembered the talk by John Selborne on the origins of apples. It seems to me this is a golden opportunity to revisit that connection.

There are three initiatives that the Project currently offers.  One aim is to create thirteen community orchards every year, working with local groups such as Friends of Parks and Housing Associations.  They will plant eight fruit trees and offer one's day training, with a visit six months afterwards to check how the plants are doing.  For their part, the community association guarantees four 'orchard leaders' who will take responsibility for the trees, including weekly watering during the first year.  The trees are planted carefully, which means choosing a suitable location; lawns with their bacteria-rich soil are not ideal for apple trees.  Because they are essentially edge of forest plants, they prefer a soil rich in fungus, which is facilitated by a mulch of vegetable matter.

Experience has shown that the new trees can be vulnerable to theft, vandalism and dog training, and so each new plant is protected by a fairly substantial guard, dug about three feet into the ground.  These may not be pretty to look at but will be reduced as the tree establishes itself.  The orchard is there for the duration.  By the same token, the choice of apple tree may be surprising: exotic varieties, rather than traditional.  Why is this?  The sad fact is that climate change means that delightful Victorian varieties such as the Peasgood Nonesuch, need chilly winter days to prosper, and these can be rare in an urban southern setting. Foreign varieties fare better.

The second activity offered by the London Orchard Project is restoration of old orchards.  It is striking how many of these exist in London, several of them interestingly linked to mental institutions,  founded in the nineteenth century.  (I wonder if St Annes Hospital in Tottenham is a case in point.)  The reasoning behind this seemed to be that tending the orchards was viewed as a kind of occupational therapy, something we would now regard as ecotherapy. 

The orchards can be seen on old Greater London Authority maps but the Project needs people on the ground to confirm this.  The Project will then attempt to restore old trees that may be overgrown and in need of care and attention.  Pruning out extra branches in the centre will recreate the goblet shape which is most productive, in that it allows pollinators to access the flowers and the fruit to benefit from light.  Older orchards are rich sources of biodiversity and even damaged trees are fruitful as excellent habitats for insects and birds.

The final service on offer is the harvesting of fruit.  The Project now own two cargo bikes, provided by the London Cycling Campaign, one in North London, one in South.  The Project appreciates that there are several groups already involved in collecting urban fruit.  There is the Organic Lea Scrumping project; Transition Kilburn to Kensal Rise have been offering fruit to schools for three years now and of course, our Apple Day would not exist without the input of the Urban Harvest and Gemma.  Nevertheless Lewis did mention one exciting development: the London Glider cider created by a group of enthusiasts in Epping and now stocked by six London pubs.  It even gained the accolade of a Camra award.

In terms of our Apple Day next year, it might be worth pursuing some of these ideas.  We already know about the iniquities of 70% of supermarket apples being shipped in from other countries, but did you know we could feast on a different English apple every day for six years?    

It would be great to invite London Orchard members to the Day to tell us more about their work.  They could also advise us about planting more apple trees in local green spaces, Stationers Park being a prime location. Lewis is a keen permaculturist and wants to explore the possibility of creating a forest garden around apple trees, where the formation of guilds would reduce infection and increase yields.  And of course they could give us feedback on our own apple produce, especially the liquid kind.  They have already conducted a successful experiment with cider-making and may be keen to share their expertise....  

It's never too early to start planning for Apple Day!  

Sunday 3 June 2012

Summer 2012 News

Get Growing!

Knowing thru Growing Weekly Low Maintenance Gardening and seasonal community celebrations.

MeadowOrchard Project. Regular growing sessions at our community orchard behind the health centre on park rd.

Foodfrom the Sky Regular growing sessions up on the roof of Budgens.

Other Growing Spaces: Harold Rd - community garden, Plot 21- community allotment, Naturewise Forest Garden, Priory Common Orchard and Hornsey Vale Tyre Garden - details from

Get Connected!

Green on the Screen

1st weds of the month films on sustainability, environmental issues and all things green at Moors Bar, Park Rd N8. A great night of film, food and discussion.  Next film Weds 6th June 'Just Do It'

UrbanHarvest…Free Food Foraging walks and workshops third Saturday of the month.

Community Supported AgricultureWeekly 'More Than A Box Scheme' at Haberdashery Café- food delivered from Church Farm, near Stevenage every Thursday 6-7pm, also- monthly community farm participation at Church Farm, seasonal farm camps and more.

FoodCycleLove food hate waste? See what’s cooking at the weekly community Food cycle café, serving great meals made from surplus food, Fridays 12-2pm, Station House, Ferme Pk Rd.

Barboot7.30-10.30pm 1st Friday of each month , the Haberdashery Cafe, Middle Lane, turns into a colourful and kaleidoscopic bazaar with community artists, craftspeople and vintage sellers. 3rd Friday of each month musicians perform ' Three Songs' each, proceeds to a local cause. Also at Moors Bar.

Bon Croissant Cafe Monthly Community Music Jam.85 Weston Park. All levels of music skills welcome. Monthly Saturday afternoons (next one 5thMay ). Facilitated by local musicians Mary Hogan & Peter Budge. FFI

HornseyVale Community Centre (HVCA) A busy hub in the heart of our community with something for everyone.Home of our Tyre Garden and Recycled tabletop sales.

Hearthland ; Off grid cooking, seasonal earth based celebrations, off grid green tours, greenwood working and other low impact reskilling to renew and re-root our connection to the land for our and future generations ‘hearth’ and well being. FFI;

Community Acupuncture Tues eves 5.30-8.30 @ HVCA FFI:

Get Crafty!

Mosaic making with recycled materials: 1st Sunday of the month, also at HVCA. Pre Festival Nature Mosaic making April 21st at Meadow Orchard.

Knit Cafe – Unlibrary at Hornsey Library on Saturdays

Get Building!

Eco building- cob, straw bale, rammed earth, timber and lime rendering at Meadow Orchard Project.

Draughtbusting (when demand arises)

Coming up... Home energy initiatives....Tool Library (we're looking for a co-ordinator to set up with our donated tools as well as swaps)

Get Loaded!
NLLETS We are a member of the local exchange and trading scheme & have now joined Haringey Timebank…other ideas for boosting our local economy welcomed.

Also Coming Up:
Community Choir...singing songs of resilience, midday Thursdays at Union Church, Ferme Pk Rd
6th June Hearthland 'Off Grid Green Tour'  from 3pm
One of our seasonal green tours en route to Green on the Screen!
This one begins near Alexandra Palace (ali pali) station at a community allotment at Ranelagh Rd, N22 (steel gates opposite no.10). Come 3pm if you want to join us for some off grid food, prepared and cooked out in the open. Learn a little about off grid cooking. Tour the community allotment and learn about eco cabin making from reclaimed materials, green roofs and witness it firsthand..Check out whats growing as well as cooking!
(Bring your own eating/drinking utensils)
Leaving about 4.30pm we weave our way up the palace (with a very likely ale stop at the Phoenix pub at the top) to the allotments on the other side of ali pali, visiting Fred Fitze's solo allotment plot.
We then descend to Naturewise Plot 21, permaculture community allotment (bottom of Ali Pali) Gemma will introduce the Priory Common Orchard. By then we'll have wetted our appetite for a feast on film and food as we arrive just in time for Green on the Screen at Moors Bar, Park Rd, N8.
Scrummy food for all on the menu!
Doors open 7pm.
The films title and details below gives us all the motivation we need this summer,
'Just do it' !
7pm  Green on the Screen – ‘Just Do It’ fim – Feast on film and Food, with ‘World Café’ style discussions after..
8th June Moors Bar
The Alan Warner Band fronted by the original guitarist of the word famous pop/soul band
"The Foundations". Playing an exciting mix of Rock/Blues/Pop Covers. Including the massive hits "Build me up Buttercup", "back on my feet again" and many more
Doors open 8pm admission £5
14th June  eARTh in the City, 5-7pm @ the Haberdashery Cafe   - booking essential
16th June ‘Flower Power Solstice Celebration’ at Meadow Orchard Project. Featuring Community Design from 10am. 1pm Urban Harvest ‘Edible Flowers’ session, green woodworking, Cob and straw bale eco build tours, acoustic jams and Solstice Celebration
4th July – Outdoor Green on the Screen - save the date!
7th July Meadow Orchard open day with Transition Culture Tour….music storytelling etc