Wednesday, 18 January 2012

frozen pipes and new ideas

frozen kale at the farm
It was freezing – literally - at the urban farm this week, fingers, toes and pipes, so sadly no tea! But it wasn’t all bad news. Sarah had bumped into one of last year’s apprentices. He’s working with Chris Bridgeman, landscaping and planting at the Olympic site and is loving it, even though it means leaving MK at some horrendous hour of the morning to get down to East London. It’s really satisfying to have a success story and makes the effort feel worthwhile for staff and volunteers.  One thing that always surprises me about the trainees is that the volunteers turn up (nearly) every week and they never ask us why. I suppose teenagers are generally only focussed on their own lives and we’re just part of their experience. I asked the other volunteers and their answers were quite mixed. One of the team sees it as an opportunity to get some exercise in the fresh air and uses it as a green gym; for another it was the love of growing and the wildlife. Other reasons included putting something back into the community; the sociability; and, for all of us a strong commitment to the principles of the urban farm.
Not everyone is free during the week to volunteer at the farm so we wondered if some of the farm’s supporters would like to get involved in weekend work parties developing specific projects. Over the past few weeks we’ve batted round quite a few ideas, some more long term than others but we have identified two that we’d like to get going in the near future.
building the dome last year
Last year we built a willow dome near the orchard. There’s a mellow feeling inside the dome. Everyone who's visited the site has been attracted to it and all the trainees like it. During last summer’s open day I remember a group taking it over, playing guitar and Northumbrian bagpipes, chatting and singing and just chillin’. The dome suffered badly during the summer's drought and winter's high winds and needs replanting to restore it. It isn’t a lot of work but it would make a big difference to that area.

The other project we’d like to work up is the pond area which is a bit neglected at the moment. There aren’t enough pond plants to keep the water clear and we’ve had an infestation of blanket weed which looks a bit disgusting, especially when the water dries up in summer. We’d really like to fix the pond floor using the traditional canal builders’ method of puddling clay. Once the pond is functioning properly we’ll plant up a bog area and have wild flowers growing in the grass round it – attracting more wild life into the area and creating an attractive area to sit in. 
We haven’t fixed a date for any of this activity yet, but if you would be interested in helping with either of these projects or with any others please email Dave at: and we’ll be in touch.

If you’ve got any ideas for more projects share them with us and other readers. Put a comment at the bottom of this page.  

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