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

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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.

The Poly Tunnel & the Portaloo

Two things I’ve not given much thought to before, and certainly never in the same day, have become my obsessions. The polytunnel is a 6m x 3m thing of beauty with a proper door and a ventilation system. It’s dry and cozy when its raining outside and if the sun comes out it warms quickly and there’s a wonderful earthy smell of compost. We have a long scaffold board table and a couple of folding chairs in there and in no time at all it feels lived in and loved.

The portaloo is different. We’d never really considered having one until we noticed the condition of the public loo’s nearest to the garden. Obviously, we pointed it out to the leader of our council Jeremy Birch, our MP Amber Rudd …and Ed Milliband. Something we said must have struck a chord because those loo’s are being refurbished and so as not to un-convenience us the council very kindly offered us the use of a portaloo.

It’s a long story but it turned up and Kevin, who was volunteering in the garden, helped the driver get it off his lorry and through the gates. I wondered whether there was any chance of it being put beside the shed, where it would blend in and not attract passers-by. While we were discussing the idea, a very confident chap appeared and said it most definitely would be possible to lift the loo over the flower bed and put it exactly where I wanted it. He told us he’d shifted loads of loos around festival sites, we just needed a man on each corner. We were one corner short of a team, so I pulled someone off the street and with a mighty heave ho, the portaloo was lifted and put down alongside the shed.

Only later did it dawn on us that our expert advisor had also been “someone off the street,” probably mildly delusional, and not actually part of a two-man team sent to deliver our portaloo.
We didn’t think much more of it until someone turned up to service it, took one look at where it was, sighed then got back into his truck.
And now the time has come for it to go and as you can probably guess, it’s not going easy. Several men have been to the garden, sighed and got back in their trucks. I’m hoping that overnight a very big gust of wind will lift it up and put it down by the gate for a smooth pick-up in the morning.

That would make life nice and easy…and we’d all be able to concentrate on the wonders of our polytunnel.

Community


A sweet lady from Bangladesh came to the garden with three small children today and asked for somewhere to sow seeds. She produced a plate of food she’s made for us. It was such a kind gesture and really delicious, particularly the squash curry which Peter and I devoured. We usually tell everyone that our policy is for all the growing containers to be shared communally and not for individual use in the way an allotment would be, but that seemed ridiculous somehow when faced with her generosity.
She’d brought coriander seed prepared for sowing by soaking, some black mustard seed and a few potatoes and Peter sorted her out with a growing container then labelled it with her name. The kids wanted to plant as well and we filled plant troughs with compost and their mum showed them how to sow and water. They’ll be back.
Rose, who lives nearby donated some cauliflower plants a few weeks back and although whole the idea here is to grow vegetables, we were all amazed and delighted to find an actual cauliflower nestling within the leaves. Every one who comes into the garden has been taken to see the miracle of the ‘actual cauliflower’ and today we picked it and Zelly took a picture of me holding it …and then took home for her dinner.
(Opinion is that it had arrived early was going to seed).
Tomorrow we have our first community group coming to use the garden and our MP paying us a visit in the afternoon.