England’s natural environment in decline – plant trees!

If you need any incentive to plant trees, get this!  The Natural Capital Committee reports that “England’s natural environment is in decline and its deterioration is harming the economy.”
“The committee also advised that creating hundreds of thousands of hectares of woodland and wetlands would lead to multi-million pound benefits, including avoiding flooding and improving health.”

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Seed swap days

A number of seed swap events are being held around the country, and some of the ones advertised on the Web are in the Calendar.  If you know of an event in your area please add it!

Useful links
Potato Days 2015
Garden Organic events

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Tree planting and rewilding in Scotland

Trees for Life are offering a series of conservation weeks in various places in Scotland which are “a rewarding and hugely enjoyable opportunity to restore native forests and wildlife habitats. Our volunteers have planted over one million trees and we’re now working to expand the forests with a million more.”

The full cost for each week is £350.  “Through active fundraising we are able to offer a subsidised rate of £180 for people on low wages, and £90 for concessions. If you are able to pay more than the subsidised rate, we can use more of our fundraising income for conservation.”

Dates vary between March and November.

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Car sharing versus walking or using public transport

Isn’t it odd that the InDeed initiative on car sharing, originally called car pooling, differs from the 2009 Green Year Initiative to walk instead of drive?  The use of an American expression suggests that the car sharing initiative may be more suitable for the States, where many areas (e.g. Detroit or Los Angeles) have no public transport (or as they call it ‘mass transport’) at all.  It is apparently common in the States to drive 30 miles to work; and many roads have no pavements.

In the UK we have plenty of public transport.  Surely we should be using the trains, the buses and above all the footpaths that we already have?  And if they are inadequate, we should be pressing the authorities to improve them.

Walking is the best and the simplest way to maintain your health.

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Almond milk

from Lavanya

Soak ten almonds overnight.

Put in the blender on high with 8-12oz of water (depending on the consistency you prefer) and strain.

Sweeten to taste.

Or try this method.

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Kusha grass

The Ecology Centre at Amritapuri sells many special products, among them Kusa (or Kusha) grass mats, which are said to be conducive to meditation.  Kusha may be the origin of the English ‘cushion’!

The sanctity of dharba, also known as kusha (or kusa) grass, is as old as the Indian gods…   after accepting a dish of food from a woman, Shakyamuni, on his way to sit in determined meditation, meets with Sottiya the grass-cutter, who offers him eight handfuls of kusa grass to make a seat.  He arranges it with its roots facing towards the trunk before taking his place on it under the Bodhi Tree.”

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Shareholder opportunity – Biodynamic / Permaculture farm

Shareholder opportunity

An exciting new Biodynamic / Permaculture farm project is getting off the ground in the hamlet of Week near Totnes in South Devon. This is your chance to purchase shares in the land and be a part of the future of progressive farming in the UK.

Shares available from £100 – £20,000 so there’s something for everyone!

HC farm Walk Pic

The Project

The Dartington Estate are selling a 36 acres site to the Biodynamic Land Trust (BDLT) who have been raising funds for the purchase by way of a shareholder scheme. The share offer was launched in July and officially ended in October but there is further  capital to raise so share offers are still being accepted.

The Apricot Centre – currently located in East Anglia – has been invited to take the lease on this exciting venture and will be responsible for setting up the project. The project will be designed with permaculture principles and using biodynamic methods.

Ultimately they will provide vegetables, fruit from the orchards, cows and eggs. Other key strands of the project will include adult education courses such as permaculture, sustainable living and biodynamic methods; school visits including farm tours, ‘pick, cook, eat’ days and apple harvest festivals; a wellbeing strand for onsite psychotherapy, yoga and meditation. The project is at the early stages of development, much local input will be sought through a long engagement process with the surrounding community to generate ideas, other aspects are likely to be added later on.

Through the use of permaculture design and biodynamic methods it is expected that soil fertility will be enhanced, biodiversity will increase and yield volumes and quality will improve. Continue reading

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Seeds for free!

Grow Wild has thousands of free seed kits to share so people can transform their local spaces into beautiful, inspiring and colourful wild flower havens.

Join one of the UK’s biggest-ever seed sowing campaigns and help to create over one million square metres of wild flowers in spring 2015.

Register today to receive wild flower seeds native to your country for you to share with people in your formal and informal group/s, including activity clubs, societies, work places, schools and neighbourhoods.

There are 120,000 free kits up for grabs and all you need to do to register on behalf of your group/s is fill in Grow Wild’s simple two-minute form at www.growwilduk.com/register-seed-kit

Registration closes at midnight on 14 February 2015 and the kits will be sent out in late March, just in time for spring sowing.

Please pass on this registration web link to other groups you know that might also like to join.

Our 3,700 group leaders who received spring 2014 kits can register again for our spring 2015 kits.”

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Neonicotinoid pesticides – update from the Soil Association

The Soil Association has written about the wider impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on all forms of life.  A leading bee researcher, Professor Dave Goulson of Sussex University, stated at the Soil Association Conference in October 2014:-

“Five neonicotinoid dressed maize seeds, or 32 dressed oilseed rape seeds, are enough to kill a partridge.”

Some of these pesticides have been banned by the EU but only for a short period; and the UK Government has already permitted the use of two neonicotinoids not covered by the ban. Meanwhile, big companies are attempting to overturn the EU suspension.

“In some cases neonicotinoids are found to be up to 10,000 times more toxic to bees than DDT.”

Findings of this summer’s Worldwide Integrated Assessment on Systemic Pesticides

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Purin d’Ortie

At Amma’s visit we were given some leaflets in French about a firm called Purin d’Ortie et Cie, who supply various products that stimulate and protect plants, such as nettle manure made with EM (effective microorganisms).  “Nettles put into fermentation with 3% concentrated EM allow the development of a new product, especially recommended for impoverished lands, polluted and barren.”  Their website is http://www.purindortie-bretagne.com/.

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