Spring has surprised us this year. It crept in on it’s tiptoes, painted the buds green and the tulips red and suddenly it was just there, in a whisper, and we’re certainly glad to see the last of the winter behind us.
The diggers have been up to all sorts these last few weeks- the hub has had a make-over and we’ve gone all posh, we’ve been learning about beekeeping to prepare ourselves for an exciting future project, we’ve been sowing, planting out, digging and yesterday we even had our annual “Big Dig” event where we open our doors to the wider community for them to come and learn about the space. Today the Little Diggers got down to business; picking out the worms from the worm poo, planting potatoes and painting tones. We are a busy bunch.
Anyway, no time to natter, there’s work to be done…..
The story began two and a half years ago with a patch of waste land and a pile of wood. Add to that a band of passionate people and quite literally sweat, blood and tears over time we have built our lovely hub.
It has been a place of shelter, a social gathering space, a work space, a dining room, a birdwatcher’s hut, wedding reception venue, performance venue, a cafe, a hiding place, a store room, a home, an artist’s studio, a therapist’s surgery, a kitchen, a school, a nursery.
Held together by nails and passion, it’s foundations have been rocked but in one piece it remains. But there’s always room for improvement. To see out the winter we are working on some hub improvements before we get cracking on the growing side of things; we are insulating the ceiling to stop warmth from escaping out the top of our heads, we are putting down a lino tiled floor with tiles donated from Adactus Housing Association, we are adding some more shelving and just giving it a general pre-spring clean to make it more user friendly.
If you’d like to make your mark on the hub space we will be open Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm and sometimes during the week (receive more regular updates on our Facebook page).
Slowly but pretty damn surely, the days are lengthening and after months of darkness, the light is creeping in. Winter might not be over, but there’s some light at the end of the tunnel and things that were for a time dry and brittle are regaining some semblance of their former suppleness.
At the very least now we can start to dream of the spring to come, which is exactly what we are doing, because we are planning what we are going to plant. This Saturday (and continuously over Facebook) we gathered together all of the seeds we saved last year which have been drying out over the winter and we made a wish list of the seeds we would like for next year. Not only that but we made a map of the site to help us build a shared point of communication as to what has been planted when and where and what we are to plant so that we can work more effectively as a team and communicate our plans.
If you would like to contribute, come dream with us and let us know what you would like to see growing on the allotment, add something to the list by commenting on our Facebook post or email email@example.com with your suggestions.
Last week we found ourselves beside the sea. Not ones to go an autumn getaway, we went on a trip to Southport for the RHS [Royal Horticultural Society] award ceremony. Bellies full with roast dinner, surrounded by hundreds of other North West community growing projects (who we had to fight over gravy and the last roast potatoes with) we waited nervously as the judges read out the lists of many different awards. Much to our delight, this year we took away the cup for the Best Small Neighbourhood project in the North West and we went away with another Level 5 Outstanding certificate.
A great big high five to everybody who has contributed and participated in any way in the allotment- this is a marvellous achievement and us diggers are P.R.O.U.D. (and we especially enjoyed the chocolate mints for dessert).
We share food. We share skills. We share time. We share space. We are the Moss Side Community Allotment.
Earlier in the month we sent out a request for the community to share what they had with others in the community whose basic needs are not being met. You came and you shared and as our photo shows, together we will help many families, even in the smallest of ways.
Throughout the year, we have been monitoring our harvest and keeping an eye on our impact with the help of Sow the City. This year we have produced 212.72 kg of organically grown veg and fruit equivalent to a £1106.52 saving compared to supermarket organically grown food. This equates to a CO2 saving of 394.848 or 3077.5 food kilometres. Overall,this is an incredible achievement from a bunch of urban farmers.
This is not the product of sweat, blood and tears, but the product of sharing and kindness and that in our essence is how we roll.
By sharing we can achieve great things. Keep up the good work folks.
The mornings are getting crisper, the long winter nights are slowly uncurling and the leaves are falling from the trees…..it’s that time of year again. Whilst we must take a moment to delight in the change of season, we must also take a moment to support others in our community as the pressure of an ever-increasing gas and electricity bill creates a financial squeeze.
Earlier this year, people in the Moss Side community shared food with people in our community by working with local organisations who work directly with local families. This allowed us to meet some basic needs in our communities by allowing those with more to share with those with less.
This autumn we are doing the same thing again and we are asking for offerings of non-perishable food goods to be brought to the Moss Side Community Allotment, where we will pass them on, as a community, to an organisation which works with families in primary schools in our community, along with some of our homegrown produce.
We are open every Saturday and Sunday 10am-2pm and we are around most week days (pop down or check our Facebook page for some more regular updates).
Thanks for sharing.
tomatoes ready to be cooked
Sunday 13th September 2015- Open the gate and giant sunflowers peer round the corner to greet you, the wind inducing a tall and confident swagger. In the polytunnel tomatoes are dropping everywhere in what seem like infinite supplies and long red chillies line the raised beds. The chickens scratch about, peeking eagerly through the wire Have you got a slug for me? Their eyes speak greedily. A few orange flowers remain here and there, remnants of a glorious summer and there are seeds everywhere.
The allotment is literally bursting with food and at times it’s hard to keep on top of. But we won’t let it go to waste. Not the folks who line the walls of our in-progress shop with old pallets and place buckets underneath the drainpipes to collect water for our plants. We’re definitely not the sorts to go wasting food.
We’ve been making pizza by the fire side, roasted tomato and garlic pasata, chilli jam, chard smoothies, we are most certainly making the most of the harvest.
What’s more, today we were joined by a group of enthusiastic young people from The Challenge who came to help us collect the seeds, dry them and store them in time for next year.
If you’d like to learn about seed saving and do some campfire cooking (we’ll make tomato soup, bread and some chilli jam to take home) then come and join us for our ‘Edible Gardens’ event- part of a Manchester-wide event where various community growing projects open their rusty gates to the wider community to show them round and give them a feel for the place.
Old friends and new friends, we’d love to have you- next Saturday 19th September 12-4pm.
tomatoes ready to be cooked
ready for chilli jam
pasata made entirely from allotment ingredients
an elephant moth caterpillar which we found
the new facia of the shop
We learn something by doing it. There is no other way. John Holt
Since the 1960s, as a society we have lost many skills that were once considered essential such as gardening, fixing things, carpentry…..Such skills are just not as essential in our modern routine; why try and fix the toaster when you can go and buy another one so cheaply seems more a part of our psyche than to try and work with what we’ve got.
However, you can’t help thinking that something has been lost. You see, with the loss of many of these skills, communities also witness a decline in resilience- in their ability to tackle problems when economic difficulties arise.
One of the major aims of the allotment is to share the knowledge that is contained within the community with the rest of the community. Of course this includes growing food and gardening, as we demonstrate with our growing workshops. Yet it also includes other manual skills such as basic carpentry and building- two weeks ago we began work on our shop- where we will store our surplus produce and offer it in exchange for a donation on a more regular basis to the community. But we’re not hiring any labourers to come and do the work for us. Oh no. We’re doing it ourselves, not just because we want to save money but we recognize the value in the learning process and the sharing of skills in and of themselves.
So come down to the allotment any Saturday or Sunday from 10am-2pm and get growing, hammering, sawing or practising your essential chin-wagging skills!
A quiet Sunday morning
cooking skills in the mud kitchen
a mini dance workshop
essential nattering skills
Months of hard labour…sowing the seeds, transplanting the seedlings, keeping everything watered, fending off slugs and other allotment foes…..until at last……the harvest commences and the allotment kicks back a gear, delighting on the fruits of the season. Well, supposedly anyway.
These last couple of weeks allotment folk have been busy using the harvest to our own advantage. On Saturday there was a growing workshop where participants learned about what can be harvested at this time of year and what they can be getting on with. Yesterday we had a “Mad Hatters” tea party for the little diggers where we made jam and nibbled on the peas in celebration of a few month’s labour. And THEN next week we’ll be starting work on our very own shop where we can sell our produce in exchange for a donation.
No resting on laurels going on round here it would seem.
If you just can’t wait for a taste of the fruits of our labour then why not come to next week’s Moss Side Market on Saturday 1st August in Whitworth Park where we’ll have tomatoes, potatoes, onions, garlic, chard…..to name but a few.
There’s a special kind of freedom in nature. In nature, we are not judged- we just are. The carrots don’t go about their lives wishing they were parsnips and the flowers couldn’t care less if you think they’re pretty or not.
At the lottie, we work hard to create a vibe in which the community can just be (as long as the work gets done of course). If there’s no fresh milk for the tea breaks, we make damn sure that we go out and get some immediately because we know how important the being together (not just doing together) is for the whole thing to work. That’s the secret of our success.
So that’s why we’ve been working hard to create a space in which the little people can be….because inspiring the next generation of diggers is high on our agenda. We created a mud kitchen with adult utensils, a counter and of course…..dirt. The fact is: we are a working allotment which means that many of our growing areas are sensitive and we can’t set two-year-olds loose with spades all over the place but we recognize that messing about with mud, getting dirt underneath your fingernails is an essential part of the learning process and more importantly it gives a space in which our little people can be free.
So all we need now…..are the children.