Just Food – Organic Food – Session 1
The following notes were written up by Clare Redfern based on the first Organic Food breakout session at the ecocell “Just Food” workshop held on Saturday 18th January 2014 at St George’s Church, Bloomsbury
The group was facilitated by Diane Harrison.
Growing food organically
We mainly helped each other with some of the practical aspects of growing food organically such as:
SLUGS and how to deal with them:
» sacrificial plants if you have room: e.g. hostas to lure them from your veg.
» beer traps, or just as good and cheaper is yeast mixture in a jar
» chickens can help though possibly do more damage than good!
» Have a pond (even a tiny one) as the frogs will eat the slugs.
» However, you can view slugs as positively encouraging other wildlife so really a GOOD THING. Slug pellets will kill off wildlife so don’t use them (as if we would!)
Suggestions for plants: hazel, elder (red/pink), quince, redcurrant, blackcurrant, whitecurrant, strawberries in base layer underneath.
Bee friendly plants can be grown in big pots (often found in skips or at the dump).
Doing what you’re told not to do
» Phil leaves a potato in the ground when digging them up and they grow next year.
» Diane has grown tomatoes from seeds left over winter in the ground by mistake.
Keeping rats out of your compost heap
Use rabbit-proof wire around it and underneath! That’s a lot of digging…? Bang on the sides a lot!
Also thought about pressure groups and associations that encourage local food growing and eating.
Diane is a member of Garden Organic (used to be the Henry Doubleday Trust) and finds their courses and information very helpful. She is a master composter! They are currently lobbying the European Parliament against ‘seed sovereignty’ laws preventing seed swapping. See their website for more details http://www.gardenorganic.org.uk/support_us/saveourseeds.php.
Transition Towns can work with town councils or lobby for public food growing areas e.g. Cheltenham Transition have formed an orchard in a city park and also manged to get a community composting site going, despite initial opposition. They also host Seedy Sundays for seed swapping.
Apple cooperatives exist in some towns and might have an apple press that can be hired if you have a lot of apple trees; Diane held an apple pressing day and she and her friends made over 200 litres of juice!
We also mentioned Gleaning Days – it happens in Kent on large apple farms; also in Suffolk and Essex.