RHS Awards […..Diggers on tour……]

IMG_7956Last 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).

Share and Share Alike

shareWe 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.share 2

Moss Side Community Share – We need your help!

economics of happinessThe 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.

Waste Not. Want Not.

tomatoes ready to be cooked

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.


SHOP 2We 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!

Reap What You Sow

onionMonths 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.

Mud Pies

IMG_7764[1]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.

Big Lunchin’ : Big Lovin’

On Sunday 7th June, in an inner city oasis normally peaceful and serene, the ground wobbled to the sound of music, the air jiggled with laughter and smoke billowed from the barbecue, effusing the pungent aroma of a feast created by a community.  That was the Moss Side Community Allotment Big Lunch Day.

People came from far and wide (but mostly round the corner) to savour jerk chicken, potato salad, cheesecake, coleslaw, spanish omelette…….you name it, it was there.  They came to dance and delight in the harmonic genius of a natural space and a sharing community.

Many people pulled together to make this event happen: preparing the space, taking charge of the barbecue, providing the beats, the food, the banter and defied that age-old saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” because our broth was rich in flavour because of all the chefs…

So here’s a big thank you to all those that came and made this happen, may it mark the beginning of a colourful summer.

You Say Tomato, We Say……

At Moss Side Community Allotment, we are most definitely in the busy season….everything is bursting into life; the growth is unstoppable (a couple of warm days wouldn’t go amiss though).

side shootLast weekend we had the third growing workshop in the series of 12 and we learnt all about tomatoes.  So at this time of year, with a bit of luck (if the weather hasn’t hit you too hard), your tomatoes should be well on their way with their fragrant leaves and you might even spot the odd yellow flower or two.  But don’t rest on your laurels just yet!  As we learnt through our eager fingers, it’s time to side shoot!  This means pinching off either with scissors or between your fingers and thumb any growth between the main stem and the main flowering shoots to make sure all the lovely juicy soil energy makes it way straight to the tomatoes and not on making itself into a great green bush!

As Phil informed us, you don’t need to do this with bush variety tomatoes, so make sure you check what variety you are growing before you give your tomatoes a hair cut!

Would you like to pick up more tips like this?  Then come along to our next growing workshop on the last Saturday of the month.

Hands On Learning

bug hunt 9Let nature be your teacher – William Wordsworth

In a world of touchscreens and keyboards, it’s easy to forget the incomparable learning which occurs when we work with our hands.  The different textures, the ways that different materials respond to our movements, the comfort of a hug; these are all things that we learn through our fingertips and cannot be encountered on google.

In fact, psychological and educational research suggests that there is a kind of learning which goes on in our very hands which is being lost in the current generation.  In the words of Frank Wilson, professor of neurology, who struggled to teach a group of children how the heart works as a pump “we’re cutting off our hands to spite our brains” by not exposing children and young people to “direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields and woods.”

At Moss Side Community Allotment, we try to address this need both with our workshops for adults and children.  Since the beginning of the year we’ve had:

-2 raised bed workshops

-2 growing workshops (and another one on it’s way this week)

-11 school visits

-4 children’s gardening and craft workshops.

…..and there’s a lot more on it’s way, without mentioning the cooking workshops.  In every workshop we make it a priority that participants come away with dirt under their fingertips and rosy cheeks.

So if you want to get outdoors and sizzle your senses, come and visit us any Saturday or Sunday from 10am or come down to one of our workshops.  We’ll keep you posted :)