Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Make the One Pot Pledge

Carrickfergus Borough Council is backing a nationwide campaign launched today by Garden Organic that will target a growing band of people that want to have a go at growing their own food for the first time. The campaign, the One Pot Pledge, aims to help gardening newcomers to grow an edible crop by using simple steps and clear advice to encourage and enthuse them.

Stephen Daye, Parks & Countryside Development Officer said "We want to encourage Carrickfergus Citizens to make the One Pot Pledge and sow, grow and harvest their own food for the very first time in 2010. It is expected that 30,000 people throughout the UK will take the pledge."

"Growing food, even on a small scale in just a pot, gives people the chance to connect with the food they eat. As well as saving money and encouraging healthier eating, growing fruit and vegetables also helps people to make more sustainable food choices."

"Despite the surge in interest in 'grow your own' many newcomers, although keen to have a go, still don't know where to start when it comes to food growing. Many are put off because they think they don't have space to garden, or because they don't have the time or knowledge. By encouraging people to start small with just one pot, the One Pot Pledge campaign aims to combat this, promising to make growing easy and successful. To join the campaign, go to The One Pot Pledge website,, which features everything from downloadable growing advice and tips."

Gardening Guru and BBC Gardeners' World presenter Alys Fowler says, "Eating food that you've grown yourself is one of life's great pleasures and one that everyone should have the chance to enjoy. With the One Pot Pledge campaign we want to inspire and support people to try something new and experience the joy of growing their own food from seed to harvest."

According to Garden Organic, research last year showed that 26%* of the UK had grown its own. The charity says that if every one of those people encouraged just one person to also give it a go then there would be over 6 million new gardeners experiencing the joy of sowing, growing and eating their own produce in 2010.

To pledge to be part of the campaign you can sign up at from Monday 22 March 2010. After making the pledge, you will be invited to pick a favourite from the suggested easy to grow varieties, follow the growing instructions and tips, check progress from regular email updates, and look forward to harvest time.

None of the crops featured are difficult to grow and include potatoes, salads, french beans and chillis. More experienced gardeners signing up to the pledge will be encouraged to have a go at growing something new, that they have not tried before.

As well as providing simple and clear guidance, Garden Organic also wants experienced gardeners to join the campaign as 'Gardening Gurus'. It hopes that gurus will encourage and support those with less experience to make their first attempt at food growing a success.

Bob Sherman, Head of Horticulture at Garden Organic says, "Garden Organic's work is all about passing on knowledge and providing encouragement. We hope that experienced gardeners will also join the campaign and along with a non-gardening friend, colleague or family member, make the pledge together. "

"One of the best incentives for a beginner is having a friendly face to turn to for help and advice and as gardeners we tend to love sharing our passion and knowledge. We want the nation's gardeners to join us and share their love of growing delicious, sustainable food to get thousands more people growing their own."

Monday, 22 March 2010

On the Farm

On BBC Radio 4 last Sunday the 'On the Farm' programme visited a Sheffield school which is growing its own food to teach pupils where their meals come from. Emmanuel Junior School will use the food in school dinners and sell any excess in local farmers' markets. Charlotte finds out how the project aims to connect youngsters with local city farms. To lisiten visit their website.

Vanishing of the Bees

Saw a great film the other day called Vanishing of the Bees. The film tracks the decline of the honey bee population in the Uk and throughout the world. see the website for further details.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Detroit's farming rebirth

Sacha Workman from Holywood Transition Town ( sent us an interesting and up lifting article from Radio 4 on Requiem for Detroit, which tells the story of the city through the 20th century, conveying its transition from Motor City to its rebirth as an urban prairie. Principal Asenath Andrews who is teaching Detroit's single mothers to become farmers, describes how the city is changing. To listen to the article visit the BBC website.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Trees and Urban Climate Adaptation

The Treework Environmental Practice organised a conference in London on 19 November 2009, focusing on the University of Manchester's research showing the influence of green infrastructure on the urban climate.The conference's aim was to mobilise policy makers and the wider community to ensure a sustainable urban forest canopy capable of meeting future climate adaptation needs. It was premised on the concept that the urban canopy agenda can be met by including climate adaptation within the national health and well-being agenda. Presentations are available online at

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Litter: our legacy to future generations

Interesting article by Jeremy Paxman in the Guardian:

It's the real thing, all right. That plastic jewel glinting in the verge among the emerging daffodils is a plastic ­bottle. Probably an empty Coke one.

An organisation called ­Litter Heroes (surely the most unglamorous club in Britain?) has done something rather useful. They have traced where the crud that morons in cars chuck out of their windows originally comes from. No surprise to discover that the worst-offending brand is Coca-Cola (4.9% of all litter), followed by Walkers Crisps (4.1%) and McDonald's (3.6%).

And what does Coca-Cola say by way of apology? A company spokesman "acknowledges" the report. How very gracious of him. He goes on to blather that its bottles "carry the Tidy Man and Recycle Now logos". Well, that should do it.

There is more fatuous wittering from McDonald's, which even has the nerve to attempt a tone of wronged outrage, saying that "in 2009 we spent over £2m on staff labour alone" picking up ­litter. That's £2m out of a turn­over of more than £2bn in Britain.

Anyone who walks anywhere in this filthy country knows that what the 39 volunteers from Litter Heroes discovered is true. No one in their right mind talks any longer about a "green and pleasant land". A ­beautiful country is being submerged ­under a rising tide of rubbish.

Worst of all is the fact that whereas paper bags biodegrade, plastic bottles and confectionery wrappers last for generations. Our great-grandchildren will still be living among the gaudy wrapping of the chocolate bar we excreted last month.

The poor saps who have to act as apologists for the fizzy-drink and junk-food manufacturers never use the obvious argument because it would ­insult their customers. Why don't they try the tactic of US gun ­manufacturers, who say: "It's not guns that kill, it's people"? Of course, it's not the boss of Coke or Cadbury chucking the company products out of the car window; it's some oaf who doesn't understand that in tidying up his private space he's making the shared space filthy.

The turning of verges into rubbish tips is a symptom of the "everyone for himself" attitude that has come to dominate in the last 50 years. What can we do? Local councils are supposed to have a statutory duty to clear up litter, but are largely useless. Ditto the national government. The fault, dear Brutus, is in ourselves. At least future generations won't lack evidence of the kind of people we were.