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.

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!

Moveable Feasting


We realised the sun wasn’t likely to warm and ripen the tomatoes so they were all picked and now…
WE HAVE RELISH, PICKLES AND CHUTNEYS!

There’s been a lot of rain this year and its so funny to think back to the start when the hose pipe ban was in force and we wondered whether how we would manage to grow vegetables without water. Now we are quite waterlogged. Still, the marvellous poly tunnel has saved the day and our donated Keter shed is completely dry inside. Saturday volunteers Steph and Aileen have rigged up guttering along the shed roof to feed three water butts, so when the rain does stop, we’ll be ready. Our wormery is thriving too and Peter is running a compost trial with a DIY pallet wood version and a donated plastic bin. Both could do with some dry weather and sunshine. Another generous and game changing donation was our Storm Kettle from Eva in Luxembourg – more fun and less harmful to the planet than the gas stove. The design is sheer genius.
Our new horticulturist in residence Abby Nicol has started work in the garden and we know her knowledge of vegetable growing and natural enthusiasm are going to give us a real boost. We’ve been sowing seeds and making teas in the poly tunnel and our broad beans are especially awesome. They are shooting out of the seedtray and they’re so.. green and chunky and …broad.

Winter opening hours are now in force so the garden will be open 10am-1pm on Thursdays and Saturdays and 1pm-3pm on Sundays.
Please drop by, we love to welcome new visitors and old friends.

GROW

It’s almost a month since our opening party and the rain eventually stopped only to be replaced by a heatwave. Plants love this sort of crazy weather behavior and they’re rewarding us by growing in front of our eyes.

Ruby Chard wins the beauty contest and the Giant Bed of Mints get the aromatic award. Rescue Corn was plucked from ta nursery’s compost pile by Dora who brought it back for some TLC and there are green shoots!
Our beds of Three Sisters Veg are thriving although Sister Bean was too weak to cling on in the gales and we’ve had to plant afresh. The seedlings are doing well and will soon be clambering up the corn.

We’ve had our first garden meal too. Krishnaa, a local lady from Sri Lanka
took away a selection of cabbage leaves and returned with a most delicious curry for our lunch. She shredded cabbage and fresh coconut very finely and gently fried it up with mustard seeds and served it to us with fluffy rice. And I was too greedily eating to take a picture but I will next time.

We’ve had a week of ups and downs. The meal on Tuesday made us feel that we are already achieving more than we dreamed of. The garden was buzzing with activity with new plants being donated and a nice new sun umbrella bought with donated funds to shade our first garden meal. New people discovered us, we had visits from our friendly local police and were able to give out fresh herbs and salad leaves for visitors to take away.
After a day like that we were shattered to discover that we had to close the garden for two days over an insurance issue. The Public Liability cover we thought we had would not be valid without another piece of outstanding paperwork and there was no option but to lock the gates in a heatwave. The site owners Roost came to our rescue and sent Mark their Maintenance Manager over to water the garden and the plants could almost be heard to gulp and relax. After a tense day and Sarah’s persistence, the new insurance came through at about a minute to five yesterday evening and we dashed in to water after another scorching day.
We’ve been keeping this a secret, but I began pestering graffiti artist Ben Eine through his assistant Steph, back in April. Ben is famous for his huge drop-shadow letters often seen on shop shuttering in East London and Hastings/St Leonards. I sent photographs of our wall to tempt him then updated them as we cleared the space . He said he would come and paint and we decided on the word GROW. Then we waited for our Planning Permission to come through and eventually it did at the begining of June and so did the rain which came down relentlessly. Every time Ben was in the country the rain was too and the prime growing space along a nice warm sheltered wall was becoming an issue. Other wall painters offered their services but I knew that if only the right weather and a gap in Ben’s busy schedule could coincide, it would happen and be worth the wait.

Well, last night Ben and his assistants painted our wall. It’s not quite finished as bad light stopped play, but they’ve promised to return sometime over the next week and after a complimentary meal at the Taj Mahal, I’m guessing they’ll want to comeback to Western Road quite regularly.

Our garden and its wonderwall have shone a very bright and positive light onto Western Road and its getting better all the time.

GIVE ME A SIGN ….

When we thought about making a garden we pictured it GREEN with produce overflowing the containers  and covering the white plastic-ness of them. There were vegetables everywhere and fruit and flowers and birds & bees. And there will be Рbut not quite yet.

The garden is open from next Friday and right now there seems an awful lot to do before our vision becomes reality

For instance the garden needs a sign and this is my sort of job.

Here’s how I spent my afternoon.