Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Progressing together

Volunteer showing off her
handy wood carving skills
Warmest greetings on this wet autumn day. Still moaning about the wet weather this season. Many rivers in parts of the UK have burst their banks and caused loads of damage due to flooding. We have been very lucky, though we have had pretty much non stop rain for weeks we have not had any flooding. 
Herb Spiral build --
mulch layers 
On the odd occasion when the rain breaks for a few hours we managed to get out and do some work. We've completed our herb spiral. The herb spiral is a Permaculture form that allows you to create your own ecosystem and become self sufficient. The format can be adapted to large gardens if space is available. We found a large stack of bricks which were as a result of a demolition job near us. Bricks allows for retention of heat and insulate plants in colder weather or at night, while acting as a backbone for the structure. We used fermented grass as a base layer for the structure and filled it with layers of manure, straw, fallen leaves and compost. Thanks to the rain the layers have been watered in very well and have now settled and ready for planting up in spring. I am very excited about this project. The spiral was placed just outside the kitchen door and will act as a living spice rack conveniently placed to be utilized during cooking.

Planting plan -- Herb Spiral
The spiral is a natural form that provides an efficient method for managing space, storing and sorting. Using the natural universal design of a spiral, the forces of gravity and water flow are utilized to their fullest allowing for proper drainage downhill. Herbs that thrive on drier soils live at the top, whereas those needing more moisture reside at the bottom where water collects. This form allows for planting of a widely diverse number of plants, and creates natural, sunny and shady areas -- a perfect miniature microclimate landscape environment. The herb spiral also creates a bio-diverse habitat for creatures who come to visit the garden. For a more detailed look at the creation process check out our facebook link. Herb Spiral Build -- Autumn 2012

Beginning stages -- Biological toilet

We have also been working on the biological toilet. We have a rough design plan which keeps evolving to best match the materials we are able to salvage. Hardcore from old paving slabs were used to strengthen the foundation posts, discarded fence post for the framework, we've used palette wood to construct the composting chambers and later on in the build willow poles will be used to create a living shield which will not only enclosed and protect the structure from the elements but will also use up the excess liquid that will accumulate in the chambers, preventing undesirable leaks. We aim to have this project done before spring and will make a start on the communal structure shortly after the Christmas period. 
Andrew of Syon Lane
Community Allotment Project
helps to bag up compost

I mentioned in the last post that our composting system has grown significantly and has been very efficient and productive. We harvested over fifteen 60lt bags from one of the heaps and have used a lot of it to top up most of the growing beds and feed all our fruit trees and bushes. We've also had visits from old friends from the Syon Lane Community Allotment project and Runnymede Eco-village and had a good old catch on whats' been going on the the world of community eco-project. We have also just returned from a two day conference involving a number of food growing community projects. The conference was organised and facilitated by the UK Permaculture Association. We  were one of the featured projects and asked to do a short story telling session on our experiences and visions. The notion of food growing in the middle of a city environment engaging local communities is one that large environmental organisations are keen to support. And only two days ago we were asked to join a meeting hosted by the Councillors of Merton and the people responsible for the maintenance of the green spaces in the borough. This meeting was called to discuss the potential of forming a collective of community food growing and other ecological projects. This is great news for us as it means that we will be have the support of both the council and the many other community projects operating in Merton. We have been provided with maps showing many of the green spaces which may be freed up for community food growing in the near future.

Thanks to all our dedicated volunteers who have stuck with us all through the rough weather to help us realise our goals for creating an inspiring, educational, productive and relaxing community space. Peace, Love and more Blessings.