BIG DIG DAY 16th MARCH

BigDigLogo_largeLast Saturday we opened our gates to friends new and old as part of the UK-wide Big Dig community garden day.

The Big Dig aims, “to involve local people in creating vibrant community food gardens, which can reduce anti-social behaviour, provide fresh, healthy food and put pride into communities,” which pretty much sums up what we’re all about too. So we decided to take part, linking up with The Bridge Centre in Ore and Bohemia Walled Garden, St Leonards to put our towns on the growing map.

But the weather was not in our favour…it didn’t just rain, it poured. However, in true UK spirit we didn’t let that stop our party.

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Da made us all delicious Thai soup for lunch, the perfect thing to warm us on such a wet and windy day.

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There were homemade cakes a-plenty.

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Cups of tea…and a councillor popped in/ out the tea cup.

IMG_0784 Garden produce was on offer as well as some beautiful soaps handmade, no less by volunteer extraordinaire, Cat.

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A highlight was Pepe Mache’s ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ puppet show.

IMG_0787Despite the rain we even managed a bit of digging and weeds clearing, preparing our wildflower meadow area for sowing.

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Thank you to everyone who came for making the day so successful despite all odds!

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ITS GOOD TO BE BACK IN THE GARDEN

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Today we opened the garden after its winter sleep and we’re pretty chuffed at the turn out. We’d expected the trustees, maybe some of last year’s volunteers ….and perhaps some new faces. By the time I got there at eleven the garden was absolutely buzzing with activity and quite a lot of it was being undertaken by a whole new crop of visitors eager to get involved at all levels.
The shed has been raised onto a platform of strong blue pallets and we have a very sturdy new pallet fence along to back of the site.

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Ah men! Bless their strength and love of hammers.

Compost had been delivered and Jenny shovelled and barrowed it into big growing bags and Jan gave our shed a proper spring clean. Paths were raked and order was restored.
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The wheelchair-friendly path system was extended right up to both the polytunnel and the shed which will make a big difference mud-wise should the deluge return. This alone pretty well guarantees us a drought.
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Peter and Cat fixed up their outdoor kitchen in the middle of the ‘orchard’ with Peter working his Kelly Kettle magic for hot drinks and Cat serving outrageously good Parsnip & Wild Garlic Soup with foccacia – eat your hearts out if you missed it! Wild garlic comes but once a year but there will be other soups, salads and stirfrys on the Turkish barbecue….

We’ve all come away from the garden full of fresh air, smelling of woodsmoke, tired in a good way and best of all very excited about the year ahead.

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Spring Preparations

The sun has finally hit St Leonards on Sea and the garden is starting to show the effects. Crocuses are popping up along the fence, shoots of bluebells amidst the colourful tree tyres and the broad beans in the polytunnel are already in flower! Not surprising when the polytunnel is registering a max. temperature of 40°C, but with a min. of -1 °C we’ll see how they fare…

IMG_0609 We are well and truly approaching ‘the hungry gap,’ the period of the year when seasonal produce is low on the ground and Spring planting has, if only, just begun. Kales are the king of the hungry gap staple, hopefully we’ll have lots thriving next year.

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At present we have a few edibles ready for harvesting in the garden with the ruby chard struggling on but the rocket lapping up the sun’s rays in the cold frame.

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Peter perked up a sad looking shopping trolley bed last week with some Polyanthus. Their bright colours teaming nicely with our coloured signpost and painted tyre tree planters.

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When the sun starts shining and garden life stirs so too do all the garden tasks that need to be done before the growing season beings in earnest. We want to get our second season off to a bang so on Sat March 2nd from 10am we are having a…

VOLUNTEER ACTION DAY!

Everyone is welcome whether it’s your first time to the garden or 100th, we have lots to do- fixing the fences, moving the shed, laying more of our super pathway, sowing seeds and enjoying many a brew from our handy storm kettle! It’s a perfect way to dust off the winter cobwebs and get the garden off to a roaring start.

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 Our regular volunteer hours come back into force from the 1st March. Thurs 10-1pm, Sat 10-1pm and Sun, 12-3pm. Spread the word far and wide. Volunteers are the life and soul of the garden and we could do with lots more hands this year. For more information email us at mfcommunitygarden (@) gmail.com

A BLANKET OF SNOW

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Fresh snow brings transitory beauty to a scruffy urban area like Western Road and I find myself wishing for a lot more of it….
enough to build a row of gardener snowmen and women ….and perhaps some snowdogs too.

A few of us got together for a photo opportunity in the garden today when our local community policman Mark Dicker handed over a cheque for £250 to help us with running expenses in the garden. The police have been very supportive to us from the word go and really understand what a positive impact the garden has locally. Big thanks to them!

Broad beans and herbs

Broad beans and herbs

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Our wheelchair friendly grid pathway into the tunnel

Our wheelchair friendly grid pathway into the tunnel


The rich liquid fertilizer run-off from the wormery soon fills the red can.

The rich liquid fertilizer run-off from the wormery soon fills the red can.


Cat has moved the wormery into the polytunnel to protect the worms from any hard frost and they are really thriving now. It was donated by a well-wisher and these worms are going to make a massive difference to our next growing season.
close-up of our wonderful worms

close-up of our wonderful worms


Amanda's Sweet Peas
The sweet peas that Amanda planted in the Autumn are proving to be highly resilient and it was a joy to see them poking through the snow today and the marigolds simply refuse to stop flowering!
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Looking backwards & And forwards

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Looking back at photographs of the site before it became The Moveable Feast its really hard to believe that it wasn’t very long ago. We came up with this crazy plan and stuck with it, convincing ourselves and one another that we could make a community garden to grow vegetables and that people would help. And they did.

Friday 15th June..the day before our first work-party

Friday 15th June..the day before our first work-party


Levelling for the pathway

Levelling for the pathway

Sign-writing garden-style

Sign-writing garden-style


Life revolved around the garden and everything else seemed less urgent.
Somedays we were overwhelmed by people’s generosity, like when our friends from the Taj Mahal restaurant appeared with huge dishes of Biriyani and bottles of Coke to sustain us and Bala made us special concoctions of iced yoghurt with herbs and spices to cool us down and give us energy. When all we needed was a Skip, French’s lent us one for a morning and strong people answered the call to fill it up. Working hard and laughing together.
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We set a date and the garden opened. BBC South East filmed in the morning and it all came together miraculously by six.
The opening party

The opening party


A few weeks later in the sunshine of wettest summer since records began, Jan brought a camping stove and made us tea in amongst the growing bags. Happy Day.
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Amidst all that people brought plants they’d grown from seed, and Dora’s pals at Greentip Growers donated about 500 tomato plants and before we knew it we had crops!
And flowers...

And flowers…


Everyone who spends time in the garden has stories to tell and for me one of the days I’ll never forget is when an elderly Sri Lankan lady came with her carer and asked to take some cabbage leaves home to cook. She returned with a most delicious feast of shredded cabbage stir fried with fresh coconut and garlic and some other amazing food. We all sat in the baking hot sun and shared the food. Those times you cannot choose or buy – they’re the gift that comes when you step out of the humdrum and take a chance.
The months have been documented in this blog so look back and remind yourselves how far we’ve come.
Today I went to the garden and met up with Cat. We walked around and saw that the garlic and onions are doing okay, the broad beans too. There are some soggy bits and straggly bits and in places the garden needs tidying up but we’ve passed the shortest day and look forwards to Spring. I hope there’ll be snow before then and we can all get together and build a snowman.
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE
PS. this is what I picked in the garden today…..
Artichoke, beetroot & baby carrots picked 29/12/12

Artichoke, beetroot & baby carrots picked 29/12/12

MOVEABLE FEAST WINTER GARDEN PARTY

You have to admit that’s it was pretty brave of us to plan a Winter Garden Party outdoors on 1st December…but how right we were to do it. The day dawned bright, clear and frosty and by the time I got to the garden at 9.15 the enticing smell of woodsmoke was wafting across the garden. IMG_0334
We strung bunting around the site & Cat set up her kitchen with Peter manning the Kelly kettle. A big pot of spiced apple juice was set to warm on the Turkish barbecueIMG_0327 IMG_0330
Jan and Dora prepared their fabulous cake stall while Aileen made a fire in the brazier. There were straw bales to sit on while listening to Mary tell stories and an art area for painting pebbles.IMG_0362IMG_0383 Stewart, from Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling came to make birdboxes with kids in the poly tunnel IMG_0361 and we were treated to performances by two different singing groups IMG_0347IMG_0354and a wandering accordian player!IMG_0382
And so many people came to enjoy the fun. There were old friends and curious newcomers who left as new friends. It really was the most wonderful celebration and we raised a stonking £225 in donations! MAGNIFICO!
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WE’D LIKE TO THANK CAWSTON APPLE JUICE FOR SENDING SCRUMPTIOUS CARTONS OF JUICE; STAMCO TIMBER FOR PROVIDING THE WOOD FOR THE BIRD BOX MAKING; AMBER RUDD OUR MP AND JEREMY BIRCH LEADER OF HASTINGS COUNCIL FOR STOPPING BY (but not at the same time) TO SUPPORT US; EVERYONE WHO GAVE THEIR TIME AND TALENT ON THE DAY.

Introducing …Abby Nicol

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We are very chuffed indeed to introduce our resident horticulturist Abby Nicol. She comes to us fresh from Panel Organics, a very local vegetable farm so she not only knows her subject but also understands local growing conditions. We were awarded a grant by the Foreshore Trust to contract an expert to help engage local residents and teach us all more about making a productive vegetable garden. The applicants were all good but Abby’s energy, enthusiasm and immediate grasp of our goals in the Moveable Feast Garden made her the obvious choice. She’s a great combination of feisty and engagingly friendly – just what’s needed in Western Road!

Abby’s first big task was to organise the Winter Garden Party…see next post!