Greetings, loyal and frustrated readers. Apologies for the chasm in between this and the last post. Things have been busy here and I’ve fallen off the wagon with the gardening and cooking lately. However, two new and exciting projects are in the offing. Firstly our loft conversion is finally going ahead, the flat is covered in scaffolding and there are builders’ knees just, everywhere. They are brilliant and it’s all happening mighty quickly. More news on that soon.
Secondly I have been helping to write a comedy podcast called 4amcab. It features sketches set in the small hours of the morning, which have become frighteningly familiar over the last few years what with getting up at 4am to go to work, tend to the baby, the other baby etc… it’s a strange time of night and the podcast reflects the weirdness of nocturnal activities. Anyone with small children, insomnia or shift work to contend with will know what I mean.
The 6 shows we’ve made for the first series are up on our website at www.4amcab.com, and then rather wonderfully Mike Kelley has made one of my sketches into a cartoon.
All the boys are doing well and we’re doing our best to keep all the plates spinning whilst our roof is taken off and everything descends into complete chaos. I hope the gap between this and the next won’t be quite so wide.
On July 4th, the bizarre and fabulous Trashcatchers’ Carnival will hit Tooting high street!
Some months ago, I spoke to David and Malsara Thorne of Transition Town Tooting to find out about the Transition Town movement and how the plans for the carnival were coming along. It is going to be a fantastic event, so do follow their blog to find out more, and block out your diary for the 4th of July!
There will also be the Transition Town Tooting Big Launch on Monday 12th July, and the Tooting Foodival on September 19th. More information on both events will be on the Transition Town Tooting main blog.
This month I spoke to Theo Pike, Chairman of the Wandle trust.
I met up with Theo during one of the trust’s monthly Wandle cleansing sessions. Over fifty local volunteers were working hard to haul all sorts of rubbish including shopping trolleys and scooters out of the river. Here’s a selection of some of the junk they removed.
In previous City Bumpkin podcasts, I’ve spoken to container gardener Penelope Bennett, guerrilla gardener Richard Reynolds, and the project manager of Deen City Farm, Ben Cheetham. Each podcast features an interview with someone pioneering a green initiative in London. It will be considerably easier for me to find such people from now on, as Nick and Mark’s Project Dirt provides a hub for such activities, bringing environmental projects and people together.
I was amazed to discover Deen City Farm just down the road from my house last year, and have been keen to find out more about it ever since.
It’s a riding school as well as a farm, with some lovely ‘growing gardens’. The site used to be used as a dumping ground, so the existing soil is contaminated. However they have cleverly got round this by using raised beds, and other planters such as shopping trolleys and old baths.
In addition to the growing gardens, the farm also has a fair amount of livestock, including an aviary, small animals enclosure, and more traditional breeds.
Ben Cheetham is the project manager for Deen City Farm. He was kind enough to invite me to the farm for an interview for another Big Smoke, Green Living podcast. (Flighty – this one is one cup of tea and two biscuits long I think).
This is Richard Reynold’s original guerrilla garden. It’s not actually his, it belongs to the tower block he lives in. Richard cleared it of dead plants, litter and rubbish in 2004, replanted it, and has been looking after it ever since.
It is just 2×2 metres – even smaller than the Penelope Bennett’s window-box allotment (the subject of the first BSGL podcast), yet for Richard it was the first step on a journey which would see him developing neglected land all over London, cultivating a forum for other guerrilla gardeners around the world, now several thousand strong, and being invited to create a garden for this year’s Hampton Court Flower Show.
I met up with Richard for a pot of tea in his flat above this little patch to find out more. He started off by telling me how he became a guerrilla gardener.