Seeds for Change

seed listSlowly 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 mosssidecomallotment@gmail.com with your suggestions.

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Make Hay When the Sun Shines (And When It Doesn’t!)

Spring into action may sound a bit cliche but it certainly feels like that’s what we’ve been doing since the onset of spring so there’ll be no holding back on the cliches in this blog…..

market dayTo Market, To Market

We kicked off April with a lovely sunny market day selling our organic wares including our home grown seeds, climbing-out-of-the-pot strawberry and mint plants, the traditional allotment eggs and of course our homemade organic cider vinegar.

bug hunt 6It’s A Bug’s Life

Last Wednesday we had our very first bug hunt.  With the help of Matt from the Greater Manchester Record Centre, a butterfly net and some very keen wildlife hunters (big and small) we explored the world in miniature at Moss Side Community Allotment and we had plenty of surprises.  After a grueling hunt, our brave insect seekers made some beautiful bug hotels to take home with them.

raised bed 1

Off the Ground

And then for the weekend…..when we held our second raised bed workshop with plenty of participants.  Twelve lovely ladies rolled their sleeves up and got on with some sawing and screwing as they learnt about the benefits of this piece-of-cake growing method.

little diggers 1Sunshine on a Rainy Day

We finished up last week with our marvelous Little Diggers event- we were joined by 11 little diggers and several big diggers too to paint some beautiful pots and hear the tale of the King and the Seed.

Dirt

8899336591_9e3f03dada_k-e1424993096873-1389x500Fact: In one teaspoon of soil there are more microorganisms than there are humans living on the planet.

Imagine the worlds you are transforming when you dig up a whole vegetable patch.  Lesson one in our series of workshops on growing food was all about our favourite thing: dirt.  We learnt about the fundamental importance of soil to the health of our garden and the resilience of our vegetables.  We analysed it, broke it down into parts and ran it through our fingers.

If you didn’t make it to this workshop, and you’d like to learn more about the value of soil and it’s potential to transform whole civilizations, then take a look at this article and don’t miss out on our next workshop on April 25th.

Planting Seeds for The Next Generation

10942497_10152775011893269_1963505136906460621_nPassion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young, it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. – Richard Louv: Last Child in the Woods

A healthy community is one that looks out or it’s children.  It is one that recognizes the importance and value of the next generation and makes their education a priority.

This year at the lottie, we’re dedicating ourselves to the next generation of little diggers, which is why we’ve been working hard to extend the children’s garden and seek funding to undertake exciting activities including a bi-weekly family club and (fingers crossed) work with local schools to get children outside with their fingers in the earth.  Our aim is to move the learning space beyond the classroom and into the community; allowing children the unique opportunity to experience the world in full 3D colour.

Although all of these exciting projects are yet to come to fruition, this weekend at the lottie we were fortunate enough to have some little digger visitors who were ahead of the game.  We had help watering and moving the plants, digging over raised beds and even building a beautiful hibernaculum to house our frogs and newts when they’re not pond-dipping.

What became apparent to me as I saw the children zealously getting their hands dirty, pulling out worms and searching for twigs was that very little was needed to kindle the learning process and perhaps more pertinently, we as adults have as much to learn from children as they do from us.

May the learning commence.

Letting the Sunshine In: Pre-Spring Preparations

IMG_7536[1]

Snowdrops: A traditional symbol of hope

February is a funny old month.  It’s the shortest month of the year, the long winter still lingers on and yet change is in the air.  The long, sleepy nights begin to slowly shorten and in amongst the seemingly dead remnants of last year’s crop, the first brave little shoots of new life begin to creep through.  Unlike the yellow splendour of spring’s show-offy daffodils, the shoots are more subtle, green and hidden.  Birds that had made their escape start to come back.  Winter is definitely not over, but there’s hope.

Our pagan ancestors would have marked the season with the traditional festival of imbolc; usually held on 1st February to celebrate the coming of spring.  This involved (and still does involve) lighting a candle or bonfire to represent the return of warmth and light.

Down at the lottie, the first shoots are beginning to appear and our snowdrops are quietly flowering.  New flocks of birds have been making their presence known and there are plenty of little green shoots.  We have also been making more space for new life in the new growing season, building new raised beds and making a start on a polytunnel.  Today, we also cleaned the perspex in the greenhouse, which was covered in last year’s snail poo and whilst we didn’t light any candles, we’ve certainly been letting the light in for next year’s little seedlings.

So here’s to February, and to quiet new beginnings…..

In 2015, Moss Side Community Allotment Needs YOU!

jka-needs-youDo you want to be part of a LOCAL, organic community food-growing project, dedicated to COMBATING FOOD POVERTY whilst helping build community centred around a natural space?  

Are you interested in ORGANIC food-growing techniques?

Do you like TEA and BANTER?

Then you may have just come to the right place.  We have a very exciting year ahead of us at the Moss Side Community Allotment as we have just been awarded a Food Poverty Grant which means we can expand our work and reach more people in the community, including those most in need.  In that grant we have funding for:

– A brand new community shop to sell our produce on site to local people!

-More raised beds, seeds, compost and tools so we can make use of our newly acquired plots and grow more grub.

-Workshops including 12 monthly growing workshops, raised bed workshops, seed-saving workshops, sustainable cookery workshops.

-Working with a local school to create their own growing area.

And that’s not all!  Coming up in January, February and March we will be undertaking several other exciting projects including:

– Creating a water catchment system for rainwater collection to keep our soil nice and moist during the summer months (weather permitting this should be undertaken on Saturday 17th January).

-Completion of our polytunnel so we can grow a wider variety of crops all year round.

-Starting to build some of the raised beds ready for the spring.

If all of this excitement is just a bit too much for you, we’ll be doing plenty of ‘light’ gardening work to prepare our beds for spring time growth, so do come along anyway, even if it’s just for a natter.  There’s a job for everyone, including little diggers as well.  Whether you’re a newcomer, an old-timer or just a bit curious come down to take part in this fantastic project, we’re going to need all hands on deck this year!

Remember we’re open every Saturday and Sunday between 10am and 2pm and sometimes during the week (for more regular updates join our Facebook group).  We’ll also be hosting our AGM on Sunday January 18th at 12pm at the allotment hub for those interested in having their say.

Don’t forget to keep calm and carry on digging.

Event: “The Village-in-the-City Fete” @ Moss Side Community Allotment, Sun July 27th

A free traditional summer afternoon of family fun and games down at the lottie….

-Family games including throwing a wet sponge in Phil Dodd’s face, tombola, hoopla, hook-a-duck, pin-the-tail on the chicken and many more…
-Children’s Corner with craft-making, face-painting, storytelling and nature treasure hunt

Sunday, July 27 at 2:00pm – 6:00pm