This winter i have been spending some great times with the lovely folks down on Sutton Community Farm. It's in South London in a place called Wallington up on a sort of mini plateau overlooking the london skyline. Its a very beautiful site and surrounded by old nurseries and green houses that have been there for generations. I urge you go pay them a visit as soon as you can, you'll have a great day out of it and you'll probably go home with your hands full of fresh veggies to take home and some new friends and a heart full of joy, not to mention a smile on your face :) You can see their fundraising video here.
Volunteer Day Wednesday
The first day i went for their official volunteer day on a Wednesday, in the morning we picked a lot of different varieties of salad leaves for their veg boxes. I met a lot of their staff and other volunteers and had lovely chats with them, everyone was so friendly and they had huge faith in what they were doing and they were all very politically motivated to grow good food for the community. They cooked a huge beetroot soup and as many as 20 volunteers all sat and ate veg food together, they even had home made bread as well. Super delicious!
This time of year is a great time to grow and eat brassicas or anything in the cabbage family. There are so many varieties to choose from, they are super source of nutrients and they grow right through the winter. Many brassicas are perennials so if you plant one in your home garden you can keep picking the leaves for years to come. Kale and Cavolo Nero are two currently very popular varieties they grow at the farm. Trust me, eating these gives you lots of energy, which is needed in the winter time!
They have used locally available wood chips for pathways around the farm. This provides a stable walking surface, stops weeds growing here and encourages micro organisms in the soil. Chips like this are often freely available from local tree surgens who may have to carry them further away to dispose of them, so taking them off their hands can be doing them a real favour.
Beneficial fungus' in particular find this kind of carpet mulch a great home. They build a vast network as they would through the forest floor and transport nutrients and deliver them plants through their root systems, this is called the mycorrhizal association. Apparently there are many fruit trees that will not give healthy fruit without fungus around their roots.
Here's a little taster of whats in their salad bags. I tried everything and it was yummy, please let me know the names if anyone recognises the breed. Thanks :)
Buiding the Raised Bed Garden
There are seven curved beds coming from a central heptagon. This raised bed garden will be a small demonstration of the crop rotation system taking place on the seven big growing areas of the farm.
The Wonderful Wallington Walk
The colours at this time of yeah are very stark and when evening and morning light can bring out some very beautiful colours. It might be winter but life is very much going on all around and its so clear to see along these avenues and front gardens as you walk through the town.
The walk from Wallington Station took me ages as it so beautiful. During this cold winter season, the sun sets much lower in the sky. This gives long shadows and the transition from daylight to darkness is drawn out over hours. The trunks of trees can now be seen with all their peculiar details as day light comes in from the side.
There is clearly enough moisture and enough soil from decaying matter here on this tar mac surface for life to survive. Although you can see the patch in the middle of the pavement has been warn down by people's shoes, the fact that moss can grow here perhaps means its a path less travelled.
Wood Pigeon, sustainable alternative to chicken?
Common in suburban parts of the city, Wood Pigeons make very good eating apparently, as they are the tastiest and largest of the pigeon family. I'm sure they would be easy to catch and kill as they are pretty tame and commonly found in these areas. A more sustainable meat dish perhaps? Planes can also be caught but are a little more expensive.