Sat 12th Nov, Hope Trumps Hate: Lunch together for solidarity

Feeling the need to show collective feeling about the world catastrophe (election of President Trump)…

Meet up noon to 1pm, Saturday 12th Nov 2016, Stroud High Street, outside the old Millets shop.   Everyone welcome, bring a sandwich.  Probably a good idea to bring an umbrella too, as light rain is forecast.  And so that we can be an anti-Trump umbrella group.

Permaculturists against Trumpism

Words can hardly express how depressing and worrying it is that President Trump has been elected today. It feels like Brexit morning all over again, but with terrible implications for the whole world rather than just for the UK.

If there’s one thing that’s an antidote to all that Trump stands for, it’s Permaculture.

I think the message from this year is that people of goodwill and good sense need to work together for the sake of a saner, safer future. I’m promising myself that I’ll be less complacent and more active. Whilst making my own little patch into a bit of eco friendly heaven, I mustn’t stand by and let the whole world slip into hell.

Any ideas for acts of collective solidarity most welcome. We’re a group full of great people who live by the permaculture principles of earth care, people care, fair shares… but we don’t have a great history recently (in Stroud) of doing stuff together or publicising what permaculture stands for. We have a banner (literally and metaphorically), I think we’d better get it out there in the public more often.

If you’re reading this and are not a member of your local Permaculture group, I’d say that now is the time to join. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a Permaculture group, start one! If you want advice on how to do that, any permaculture group, including ours, would be happy to help. This is a World Emergency.

London Climate Change March – SPG Banner

Stroud Permaculture Group members took part in the Climate Change march in London on 29 November 2015 – with the lovely banner that we made last autumn for exactly this sort of occasion. There were approximately 50,000 people on the march, calling for governments to agree significant action on C02 emissions at the COP21 UN Climate Talks which start in Paris this week.

Stroud Permaculture Group Banner on climate march in London 29 November 2015

Climate Change March London 29 November 2015 - Stroud Permaculture Group banner

Apple Tree Protest, Abercairn, Belle Vue Road, Stroud 1st October onwards, 2013

Selsley Harvest and Apple Tree Belle Vue Oct 2013 082

There is plenty to follow-up with regards to the historic protest in Stroud involving the occupation of a large Bramley apple tree (Malus domestica) and trying simultaneously to save a significant badger sett on the same grounds. The occupation of the tree involved principally two or three people with several supporters and perhaps up to one hundred visitors during the six days when it was happening. A visitors’ book included messages of support, drawings and two lovely poems. It was therefore significant and to some degree placed Stroud’s credentials as part of the ‘environmental movement’ more squarely upfront once again. This, we should be proud of. There were reports in the Daily Mail, on BBC Points West, ITV West, Stroud TV, and Stroud FM, and in the Stroud News and Journal, Stroud Life and Citizen local newspapers. By the time that you are reading this, the immediate impact of the event may just be fading a little. However, the week also included some heated debate in the Transition Stroud online ‘Discuss Forum’, as well as a wide range of discussions on Facebook and Twitter. Nearly 400 comments were left on the Mail online site, and amongst these were, to some people’s surprise, many well-thought out messages of support and solidarity for the protest to save the tree.
The ‘direct action’ of the protest took place for several reasons and analysis can show how such explicit dissent and resistance in the face of developers, contract workers, some neighbours and the police became necessary. This was about protecting a special tree. The trees were planted as part of an orchard area between seventy-five and one hundred and fifty years ago. This was about protecting an irreplaceable badger sett. A sett with 22 entrances that has been developed over decades. This was about saying “no” to relentless and inappropriate housing development on green spaces within urban settings. This was an old market garden for the town, and-following rejection of a proposed requirement by Stroud District Council-the development will involve no social or affordable housing.
This was a protest involving the coming together of individuals. The desire to succeed grew but this particular battle became increasingly arduous over the six days, especially as the police presence increased and the contractors began to strategically organize themselves to pounce on a small number of peaceful protesters. Gerard Walsh, the developer, agreed on television to speak with the protesters. However, he arrived at short notice when only two were present, refused to genuinely engage, and instructed his contractors to undertake unacceptable actions.
We were involved on the day when contractors organised themselves to physically overcome the protestors, the police arrested three people and at the same time the tree was cut down to a stump (two of the protestors were ‘de-arrested’ immediately after the felling, one was held overnight in Gloucester and has been charged). The lead-up to this moment involved the use of power strimmers, gradually surrounding the protestors and surreptitiously running towards them. These moments of heightened tension are difficult to bear and they demonstrate the tenacity and determination of the developers to press ahead with in this case a development based on a planning application that was rejected in the past and which neighbours campaigned to stop for nearly three years, with more than 100 letters of objection received by the Council.
The weighing and estimations are still taking place but already cider is being made from the apples left strewn all over the ground once the main branches were sawn off in the middle of the night with a bow-saw! Furthermore, Down To Earth have collected several kilograms to make into dried apple rings. We are planning on setting up a cheerful competition to name the apple rings, especially after the messages of support from as far away as India and Australia.
James Beecher, a neighbour and local campaigner, wrote: “There was a very sad end to this story, but I hope it is a good reminder of what we can do, and what may be needed in some of the battles over local development and our environment in the near future.”

Nick James, 14th October, 2013

Stroud News and Journal

Cresby, StroudFM/TV

Peter Richardson, Stroud TV

Points West

ITV ‘Westcountry Tonight’

Daily Mail article

See the latest Transition Town Newsletter

work-ins at the Community Allotments allocated for SPG in Cainscross

As with last year I am hoping to organise a few work-ins at the Community Allotments allocated for SPG in Cainscross.
Around twelve or so people came along last year and we got underway a number of efforts.

Brassica rapa
Brassica rapa

The main advantage is that we can experiment with permaculture at a very small scale. It also helps those that may not have an allotment just yet. They can try their hand at growing things. There is a greenhouse to help starting off plants.
There is an open and flexible plan for the plot but ultimately it’s there for us to share, accepting that people may live further afield and that some people are too busy with other projects.

Do pop over some time nevertheless.
I suggest the first work-in afternoon for next Sunday the 3rd of February, 12-midday until 3pm. Today looks perfect weather-wise but cross fingers that next weekend is reasonable. If it’s frozen or too wet then please assume that the work-in is cancelled.

Hoping to see you there.

Nine Star Perennial Broccoli

As a trial we shared some nine star perennial broccoli seedlings last year.  After all, if it’s really perennial and really broccoli, that would be great!

Here are our results from year 1.

Philip's nine star perennial broccoli
Dom's nine star perennial broccoli

This is what Dom wrote about his :

Though not huge, my three plants have been looking v. healthy and growing well all winter. The largest is getting on for 3 feet, but the other two are smaller. Like you a couple of days ago I was poking around the foliage and there were loads of little white sprouting broccoli’s. Actually the biggest plant has a relatively large central head  2 -3 inches and several smaller side florets. The next largest has a small central floret but loads of small sprouts all around the stem, and the smallest of the three is not showing any sign of flowering at all yet. I had a taste straight off the plant and they where good. To me the taste was a bit like a cross between cauliflower and broccoli.

My plants produced similar white florets, and the taste was not quite cauliflower, not quite broccoli.  Stronger flavoured than cauliflower I’d say.  Pleasant though and no doubt full of goodness.   My plants were fairly small, maybe 18 inches to 2 foot tall, compared with purple sprouting broccoli plants of the same age which were 3 to 4 feet tall.  It will be interesting to see what the plants and florets are like in years 2, 3, 4 etc – will report again here next year.  So far I’d rename this plant ‘hopefully perennial sort of strong-flavoured small cauliflower’.

Perming up my garden

Now it’s March suddenly everything feels urgent and the glorious weather has only added to it.

I’ve made a couple of hazel fence panels – nailing ‘foraged’ hazel poles onto cross-braces (mostly of Ash). These will be to replace some old trellis and keep the chickens out of the top bit of garden – the trellis doesn’t do the job! I’m making a mini- (or micro-!) forest garden that will need protecting from their non-stop digging and scraping.

I bought a couple of pear trees and a plum tree from the Agroforestry Research Trust web-site (half price sale!) as well as 2 Solomon’s Seal rhizomes. Solomon’s Seal puts up edible shoots in spring that are supposed to taste a bit like Asparagus. And it’s a nice plant too. The trees are planted but the Solomon’s- seal are in pots to protect them from slugs.