Posts tagged ‘children’

March 25, 2012

Chunky crayon recycling

by growingpeople

Safi spends a huge amount of time drawing – which we love. But it also means that because every single crayon in her enormous box has become several little baby crayons, the flat has been taken over by nearly unusable bits of broken Crayola showing up everywhere: inside my shoes, the washing machine, our bed…and they are always the first thing to be chucked all over the floor in angry protest at not being allowed to pour water in the Marmite jar or when asked to relinquish one of the four spoons being used for potion-making.

So partly under the guise of “this looks like a fun thing to do” but mainly because I’m sick of spending half my day picking shards of wax off the floor, we made these.  They work just like normal crayons and can even do multi-coloured squiggles, so the three of us can still do as much drawing together as we like, but the best thing about them is that there are only eight of them. Brilliant.

You will need: broken crayons, cupcake moulds, one compliant toddler who doesn’t mind you nicking her toys, oven on gas mark 1 for fifteen minutes.

March 25, 2012

I like

by growingpeople

…the way my clever students at St Mary Magdelene Primary School use egg shells, empty tins and crisp packets for starting off seedlings. Happy days. Speaking of which, now is the time for starting more or less everything (keep the beans, tomatoes and pepper seedlings inside until May though, and hold off on sowing pumpkins, squash and courgettes at all until then).

October 26, 2011

Secret London Garden #8: Forest Farm Peace Garden, Hainault

by growingpeople

 

For lovely Naomi’s birthday we took a trip to the Forest Farm Peace Garden on Hazelbrouck Gardens in Hainault – so far East London that it’s technically Essex. The nine mile cycle to get there from Hackney quickly turned in to fifteen after getting lost a dozen times – but we did find a nice apple tree on the way, somewhere inside the Roding Valley.

This garden, built on an abandoned site is sumptuous - part allotment, part community garden with an eclectic mix of users (and hence an eclectic range of crops) – it is also deceptively large and feels self-contained somehow – as if you could spend days here and always have something to do. Don’t be put off by their website (or lack of) – it’s a truly inspiring (and beautiful) place.

When we visited, on an apocalyptic grey Sunday in October, the garden was open for the Abundance Open Day. An enormous apple harvest had produced the most delicious, dark brown, thick apple nectar I have ever tasted and was being sold for next to nothing along with piles of the apples themselves, chutneys, pumpkin curry, potato stew and clear East London honey, courtesy of Andy Casson who keeps bees on the site.

The open days are held fairly regularly so keep an eye on the website or join the mailing list to be kept informed.

 

 

October 11, 2011

It’s been a while

by growingpeople

But to make up for my absence, here’s something which has nothing to do with gardening whatsoever.

I am a very big nappy consumer (or rather my daughter is), and like many parents, I have guilty visions of landfill piles of them (now one year high) with great big Safi-labels stuck on them. Despite my early good intentions, I manage to come up with excuses for not using the cloth ones (too messy, they leak, more washing means tons more water and electricity, our flat is too small for soaking buckets all over the place, etcetera, etcetera). I know our grandmothers managed just fine, but if we’re going down that road, they also managed without the internet.

When I was pregnant, I said I’d use cloth, then when Safi was born I downgraded to only using the bio-degradable ones, and then as my bank balance shrivelled, so did my ethics, and now it’s whichever ones are on offer at the shop. Yuck.

Of course it’s complete madness to take the “easy” option a disposable provides, of producing synthetic fibres, plastic and adhesives, packaging, shipping, and purchasing the lot hundreds of times a month when I could just be giving a piece of cloth a rinse, but I feel like I spend half my free time doing housework as it is, and I can’t be bothered to do any more, which I freely admit to. I rationalise this by telling myself that I am pedantically “green” in every other aspect of my life so I’m allowed this one thing. Kind of. And I consistently find that it’s the one thing that other, otherwise sensible and ethically sound people allow themselves alongside their solar panels, Ecover and allotments.

So. I’m very hopeful about the UK’s first nappy-recycling centre which opened last week in the West Midlands, with four more due to open over the next four years.  They’ll also recycle adult incontinence pads and sanitary towels, collectively known as AHPs (Absorbent Hygiene Products). Knowaste, the company behind the centre, “will use state-of-the-art technology to recycle AHPs, sterilising and separating the materials to recover plastic and fibre that can then be used for making new products, such as roof tiles or plastic components and fibre based construction and commercial tubes”, says the Guardian. The centre will recycle roughly one fifth of the UK’s AHPs, collecting from nurseries, hospitals and public washrooms.

The glaring omission here is obviously the vast majority of nappies which get disposed of at home and which therefore won’t be collected by Knowaste for recycling. Which makes me think how wonderful it would be if alongside our kitchen waste blue bin, garden waste brown bin and standard green recycling box, we were to start seeing nappy-recycling boxes as part of residential recycling.

Yes, it would be great if we could avoid the production and disposal of the waste material in the first place, but given that cloth has trouble taking off even among the most well-meaning of people, allowing parents an option B which doesn’t ask anything of their wallet and which slots neatly into a collection system which is already in place and perfectly adhered to seems like it could be second best. Still madness, but realistically something to be hopeful about.

 

August 23, 2011

Secret London Garden #7: Wilton Estate Orchard, Wilton Way

by growingpeople

The  longer I do this urban food growing thing, the more I find going on. Which makes sense obviously, but I never cease to be amazed by the range and scale of the projects that communities are setting up. The Wilton Estate Orchard (which also includes a sizeable vegetable garden) comprises 7 types of apple, pear and plum trees and is the result of  a collaboration between the Wilton Estate Tenants and Residents Association (WETRA), Hackney Homes and the London Orchard Project. This fairly recent charity, founded in 2009, partners up with local authorities and community groups, helping residents set up orchards as well as providing the training they need to maintain and harvest them – their website informs us that in the past London was full of orchards: hospitals, universities, prisons and other institutions each had their own, meeting all their fruit needs.

The orchard is located on an unlikely bit of green space running along the corner of Forest Road and Greenwood Road.  What’s nice is that there’s nothing very secret about it at all, it’s right there, opposite the rather good pub and the Costcutter, and yet I bet most people who walk past it daily don’t realise what it is. Heading into the estate you’ll find the slightly more secretive and very lovely vegetable garden which is maintained by the young residents.

June 21, 2011

This week I like

by growingpeople

Digby Road, Homerton

This new-build 14-storey residential project opposite Homerton Overground station takes its undulating triangular shape from that of the previously derelict site it sits on.  The building will aim to operate on 20% renewal energy, is entirely clad in heat-retaining terracotta, boasts a continuous garden roof, two external green walls, (visible from all over Hackney), community garden, playground, rain water recycling system and there are plans in place  for a biomass boiler community heating scheme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bottle-cap gardening

I don’t actually  like  this, because the idea that you would pay £1.22 plus postage for soil or that there’s even a market for this is completely depressing, but corporate bandwagon aside, this is a cute way of illustrating that you can grow stuff anywhere, and it would be a fun project to try with my students  (using soil from umm, the ground , and not mail-order from Japan).


Whirligro | vertical plant grower

These are great, although the £80 (plus £20 postage) price tag is a little OTT and I’m sure there must be a way of making one yourself. But for those who can afford it, they combine good design and space saving for both indoor and outdoor gardening.

April 24, 2011

Secret London Garden #1: The Scented Petal Garden, Wilton Way

by growingpeople

Starting off a new series of posts on London’s hidden green spaces is the Scented Petal Garden, situated within the grounds of Boscobel House on Royal Oak Road but best viewed from the pavement of Wilton Way (particularly on a sunny afternoon when the south-facing garden is bathed in light).

(l) a unicow, a penguin and flying fish watch over the garden, (r) Petra and one not very helpful helper

Maintained by the estate’s junior residents with support from the tirelessly brilliant Petra the garden is a frenzy of colour and creativity. The flowerbeds are watched over by Unicow, George the Ghost, Guerepowee (half gorilla half bee, since you ask) and Drumfly among other ingenious creatures, and the walls tell tales of blushing frogs, flying elephants and a gentlemanly worm.

Members of the Boscobel House Scented Petal Garden Club will be showing off their talents at the Wilton Way public street party on April 29th, unveiling their hand painted giant tea pot and two gold and gem laden rocking thrones alongside their many other creations.  The club will also have a designated wall space opposite the Wilton Way Café where party goers will be able to make their own artwork to take home with them as a souvenir of the day, and their handmade crowns will be passed down the street party banquet table so that grown-up partyers will get a chance to be King and Queen for the day.

April 13, 2011

Holiday ideas for kids (free and local!)

by growingpeople

Stuck for ideas on what to do with your kids this Easter?

Aside from the usual egg-decorating and treasure hunts going on around the capital this Easter holiday, there are several more unusual activities taking place that have me wishing I were a little bit younger or that my 6-month old were just a  little bit older…

The Dalston Eastern Curve Garden opened last year but seems to have blossomed this year into something truly remarkable. Sandwiched between the new Dalston Junction Overground station and the Kingsland Shopping Centre, it’s a little oasis of greenery in an otherwise decidedly urban area of Hackney. The volunteer gardening sessions take place every Saturday morning, but over the Easter holidays, the garden is putting on a huge range of free activities and workshops for children aged 5 to 12, including Scarecrow-making, poetry, garden den design and how to make “little windmills to help keep the birds away from all our new vegetable seedlings”. I’m so curious about that last one.

Tucked alongside the London Overground railway line, meters from Shoreditch High street on the Hackney and City of London borders, Spitalfields City Farm is another pocket of paradise in the city.  The farm’s Easter Play scheme runs from the 18th -21st April for kids aged 8 to 13 and includes gardening, horse riding, feeding and caring for the farm’s many animals, plus an offsite visit to the Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. See here for the full details and timetable.

The Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road is running several workshops including Turkish Tapestry weaving, Tea-leaf reading, and storytelling for children aged 3 to 5, 5 to 8, 8 and above and 11 and above. See here for full details.

Kentish Town City Farm is welcoming children aged 8 and above to muck in and help out at the farm over the Easter holidays.  There are also a few very reasonably priced workshops (£4 maximum), including pottery-making, singing and art for under 5s and the opportunity to help build a working clay oven for the farm.

The Museum of London is running Victorian Pharmacy workshops in which kids can explore the herbs and spices used in Victorian medicine, as well as design and make their own herbal cabinet to take home. Sessions are running for 12.30 to 2.30 on the 19th, 20th and 21st of April.

November 12, 2010

Starters

by growingpeople

I recently heard about a project going on in Todmorden in West Yorkshire, where the residents have been using every possible bit of the town’s vacant public spaces to grow food.

Incredible Edible Todmorden is an inspiring example of what can happen when a community comes together and proves that not having a garden doesn’t have to stop you from setting up a patch (or several!). Residents have been growing food on the sides of roads, at the train station, under the railway bridge, in a supermarket car park (but don’t tell the Lidl bosses), outside the police station, at a housing estate and even in the town’s graveyard! They’ve put together this interactive map which shows the full scale of their planting. And what scale! 500 (count them) fruit trees from apples and plums to morello cherries in a town of just 10,000 people.

November 2, 2010

Railroads and Radishes

by growingpeople

The train I used to take on my commute from Stratford to Liverpool Street is raised significantly from ground level, and from it you have a wonderful view of London’s potential. Overgrown and abandoned back gardens filter past, beneath hundreds of concrete balconies piled together like teetering jenga blocks, and metal fences guard empty space, grey and desolate but for a pile of wooden palettes. Watching this scene from the train window, I used to mentally add up all the little squares of concrete and disused gardens like an jigsaw puzzle, and imagine the resulting urban patchwork of “land” as acres and acres of useable growing space.

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