Thursday, July 28, 2011

Minutes Of July 27th Meeting

T3 Meeting, 27th July, No75 Restaurant
Present:- Jeff, Justin, Chris, Christine, Carolyn, Lizzie, Andrew, Sue F, Sue Childs.
As  Lizzie needed to go home she spoke first to tell us about her new scheme, which launches Thursday 28th, the No75 Crop Swap. As all the food served at No 75 is produced on the premises, with the exception of bread, any food produced locally can be taken to No 75 and exchanged for food and drink. Vegetables, fruit, edible flowers, herbs, game, fish etc is all welcome. The producer just needs to phone 24 hours in advance and let them know what they have, and Tyrone can adjust his menu and grocery order accordingly. This will help to reduce wastage, cut down food miles and carbon footprint as less orders to the wholesaler will cut down on lorry deliveries. The scheme is being featured in this weeks Kentish Express.
Clean Up  Day. This has been featured in the Kentish Express, as has Jeff's clarification letter regarding Chris Weir.We are still awaiting a reply from Harry Hickmott. Also waiting for Jo Vos to obtain the Neighbourhood Watch list. It was agreed that more than one site is needed as a collection point. It was also agreed that we will NOT touch any black sacks which are obviously people's bags out for normal collection, as this is NOT litter. It was also agreed that any large items, i.e. flytipping, should be noted with the exact location and nature of the item, to be reported to the council for removal .
BTWW. This has been running for 4 weeks now. It was agreed that we need to increase the advertising of this event, and change it to include walking etc. Possible re-naming as Zero Carbon Wednesday. It was agreed that Sue F will talk to Paul at the White Lion about advertising the event more prominently, preferably outside the hotel.
Waste Apples. Jeff has tested the waste apples we found , by making a crumble, which was very nice! We have seen an apple press which is used by  a friend, which cost £99. If we can find out who owns the orchard, and gain permission to pick the apples there, it will be worth investing in a similar press, to make Juice or Cider. We are also looking into the production of T3 apple chutney.
HH Community Garden. This has now started, with a large donation of plants from Zillah Guess. We need more plants,seeds etc, and volunteers to help tend the garden.
There is a wide strip of land behind the hall, this needs clearing but will then be suitable for planting. Once the playgroup re-opens in September we can start in earnest. 
T3 TEA  Following on from last meeting's suggestion that we have a presence at the Folk Weekend, Jeff looked in to the costs involved and it was decided that a cheaper option would be to run our own event instead. We therefore have booked Highbury Hall, with the intention of running a 'Coffee Morning', with traditional items such as Raffle, Cake Stall, etc, sell tea, coffee and cakes, and have displays our projects, explanation of the Transition Town concept etc. We will also invite local producers of food, crafts, etc to have a stall, at a small fee .We need volunteers, donations of plants, seeds, books, old crockery, raffle prizes, cakes etc. The event will be 10-4, 1st October 2011.

Arts Group. Jeff would like to get local artists, performers and musicians involved in T3 . He has spoken to Gill and Holly Bridgstock, but would like to get in touch with as many local people as we can find.
We would like to get photos taken of the Clean Up Day in progress, as well as our other events, with the aim of creating an art work from it .
Tool Swap. As well as our previously discussed Plant swap and Book swap ideas, Jeff suggested a Tool swap. Many people have old tools languishing in the back of the shed, so if we arrange a swapping day people can exchange items. Andrew knows someone who sharpens tools as well as repairing items, so we need to liaise with him and see if we can set up a scheme with him.
St Michaels Fun Day  This is on the 11th September, and it was agreed that we should again have a presence at this event. We have received permission to take part in this event, either mingling with the crowd as we did at Tentertainment, or with a stand if we can obtain a table and a Gazebo. Andrew also suggested that we should attend the next St Michaels meeting, to introduce T3 ,Clean Up Day etc. Andrew will confirm the next meeting date to Jeff by email.
Next T3 Meeting will be held on THURSDAY 25th August, at The Vine Inn.

Crop Swap

At last night's Transition Town Tenterden meeting Lizzie Power, owner of Number 75 restaurant (where the meeting was held) unveiled her new 'Crop Swap' scheme, which we are proud to be helping to launch and publicise. This morning's Kentish Express contained the following article. Please read and enjoy, dear viewer (reader?).

Click to enlarge!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Community Garden: A Good Start

We recently were given permission to start the Community Garden, and had been on the lookout for some plants and seeds with which to start proceedings. Zillah, a friend of ours from Horsmonden, has a lovely garden that she spends a lot of time tending, and her sister usually relies on her to provide her with extra plants for her garden which she annually opens to the public. However, this year Zillah's sister did not open her garden and therefore had no need of the extra plants, so we came to the rescue and relieved her of some! While we were there, Zillah and her husband Martin proffered a bottle of home-made cider. Don't mind if I do!

It was very nice cider I must say. Had a bit of poke to it for sure, but a nice smooth flavour, somewhere between dry and medium dry, made from Worcester apples last November. Martin showed me the press he uses, which he bought for about £100.

So, with plants loaded up, we set off in the T3-mobile. 

Today we got to the Hall nice and early and after two and a half hours weeding and planting we had a nice selection of plants put in. 

Not bad for a chubby wheezing guy and  his sis with the gammy arm!

One thing we noticed was the area between the back of the hall and the rear wall of the property is quite wide, but needs some serious cleaning. Once done, it might be a nice area for some veggies. We will have to get the far end closed off though.

It looks a lot shadier than it actually is. The far end is nice and open to the sun.

Tomorrow night, folks, is a double whammy. Bike To Work Wednesday at 5pm at the White lion, followed by the monthly meeting at Number 75 at 7pm, when some seriously cool stuff will be unveiled! Be there or be uninformed!

Cultural Exchange?

Hi folks, remember a while back I mentioned that a lady named Denise from Transition Eugene over in Oregon in the great USA is planning to visit Europe and the UK in the autumn, and was looking to visit as many Transition groups over here as she did so? You don't? Well, I'm telling you now.

I just received an email from her, she was very excited about the prospect of visiting us here. I had emailed her and told her not just about what our group is up to but that our other Transition friends here in Kent are doing great things also.

Are there any members of transition groups here in Kent that are willing to host her for a few days while she is here in the fall? If you're interested, look for her profile on the CouchSurfing site ( and do a search using the location (Eugene, Oregon) and the name Denise, keyword permaculture.

Denise says of CouchSurfing: "The couchsurfing idea has great promise, sustainability-wise and for just plain fun!  I've already hosted a couple of wonderful people at my home.  I love undermining the (predominantly) corporate "hospitality" industry while creating a more meaningful travel experience, whether through hosting or surfing.  Even people who don't have room to host travelers can put up a profile and meet travelers who are coming to or passing through their area--either to actively show them their home turf in a way only locals can, or just to meet for a cup of coffee and conversation.
It's a great way to meet people and exchange ideas.  A great way to spread the seeds of sustainable thinking, for one thing!  Hee hee hee...  so subversive...  people come for a free place to sleep and end up learning about using dishwater to flush the toilet!  LOL!  I highly recommend it for Transition Folk."

I wholeheartedly agree!

Friday, July 22, 2011

An Apple A Day Gets Thrown Away

Something we've mentioned in our meetings thus far has been the problem of apples being dumped by farmers because of the high cost of having them collected. Many times, trees get thinned out so that the remaining fruit will get larger, and the apples removed just get dumped. Sometimes it can be an aesthetic thing, with fruit that doesn't look perfect getting thrown away. Often a farmer will be left with a quandary - what to do with a bunch of apples that no-one wants to buy? Waste haulage firms charge an arm and a leg - and it's hard enough for fruit farmers to get by anyway.

Since the 1950's this country has lost over 60% of its orchards, mostly to development. A recent study found that 46% of the remaining orchards are in poor condition. The website Love Food Hate Waste estimates a whopping 4.4 million apples per day are wasted in one way or another.

I was alerted to the apple dumping by Laura who often walks by the area in question, in the woods between Belgar and Belcot Manor Farms with her dogs. She first told me about it when I was doing some 'thinking out loud' to do with CleanUp Tenterden Day, which is due to take place on Sept. 24. She told me that not only was this area notorious for flytipping but that waste apples got dumped there too. This is when I started to do some research and found that there were various groups around the UK that had come across this very situation in myriad forms and had decided to either formally take the apples away for the farmer, therefore saving him a bob or two, or that the orchard had lapsed into a neglected state and volunteers had rescued it and nursed it back to its former glory. In both of these types of situations the end result had been either some wonderful home made cider or freshly pressed apple juice. In some circumstances the cider had been of sufficient quality to win awards.

A few days ago Laura and I walked down to the wood and sure enough, there were some apples there.

I resolved then and there that I was going to go back with a bag and collect some to see if they were good enough to use in any way. I went down there today and discovered that more had been dumped. Many more.

I loaded about 20 or so into my bag and took them home. After sorting and washing them, I cut a piece off one and tried it.

It was tart but still edible. So I'm going to use them as cooking apples, make a bit of chutney. Need some jars, if you have some.

But what got me was that on the way home, we walked through a pear orchard. Pristine, nicely pruned trees, loaded with beautiful pears. Next to this was a smaller pear orchard, a bit tatty and overgrown but lovely fruit. And then an apple orchard. Unmowed, unpruned, trees so loaded with fruit the branches were almost touching the ground.

Who owns this orchard? I thought. Then a thought struck me. If the owner of the orchard is in the same situation as another former fruit farmer was a couple of decades ago, they might have decided to sell to a developer. Which would be why nobody was tending the trees. And if this is the case, then a load of very old apple trees (look like Jonathans or similar) will disappear, tragically. We need to study the land registry or similar and find out. Meanwhile, I am going to make as much chutney or apple crumble as I can, while I can.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


Well, it's been a few days and we have lots of stuff in the works. Last night's Bike To Work Wednesday was a bit of a washout, as it was raining, so even though there were 5 of us there, none of us actually came on bikes (oops!). I would have come on my bike were it not for two things - one, I'd had a hell of an afternoon with job interviews that were apparently non-existent when I got there etc., and two, I had a whole bunch of stuff to carry (paperwork etc.) and I was not comfortable with riding a bike in the rain with a big bag swinging from the handlebars. I have no basket or bike rack so it was cadge a lift time. However, the car was sporting magnificent new door magnets with our logo on them! So, what did we discuss?
BTWW always turns into a sort of mini-meeting with lots of T3 things being added to the projects list and minor victories being replayed. Things like actually spotting one of our posters up on a board somewhere. It's always a bit like Russian Roulette when you ask someone to put up a poster. You never can tell whether it will actually get put up or binned. I went last week to the Tenterden Police Office (not a station any more, just a small shop-front) to give them a CleanUp Day poster and a BTWW poster, but I was told that they could not guarantee it would be put up as technically speaking they aren't supposed to display anything in the window that does not have a Kent Police logo on it. Oy vey! I had a similar experience recently in Boots the Chemist. The lady was happy to take the poster but apparently the regional manager does not like to see posters up in the shop as it apparently makes for a 'tatty' appearance. So as long as the shop staff see the posters that's Ok with me.

Posters are all very well but getting mentioned in the paper is better. Last week I sent a news release about Clean Up Day to the Kentish Express. They published it in slightly altered form the same week. About 5 minutes after I found out we were in the paper I got an irate phone call about the article from someone who is a resident of the Cranbrook Rd, near Chris Weir's recycling facility at Parkgate Business Park. The Cranbrook Road is very pretty, I grant you, but it's not a private road. This lady was concerned that my article might cause everyone to suddenly abandon going to the recycling facilities behind Tesco and behind The Leisure Centre and come stampeding in their hordes down to Chris Weir, causing all kinds of horrible traffic and noise. While I calmly reassured her that this was not our intent, I couldn't help thinking, "Well, you do live on the same road as a business park, lady... you've got to expect some traffic. After all it is a main thoroughfare." Still - at least we know that someone read the article.

So we press on. More later.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Community Garden Project Gets Go-Ahead

Last night members of the Highbury Hall Committee voted to green-light our Highbury Hall Community Garden Project. To give you all some idea of what we will be doing, here are some selected extracts from the proposal which we submitted to the committee.

As part of our aim is to build a stronger community by working together on projects that will benefit local people, improve the local environment and strengthen community ties, we are keen to help Highbury Hall, as we consider it to be a valuable resource within the town. Whilst we were working together with yourselves on the recent ' Clean Up'  we realised that there was potential for a project that could help the hall itself and the playgroup which uses the hall, and advance the Transition Town group’s aims.

With your agreement, we would like to use the areas of garden around the hall to create a 'Community Garden'. The garden would serve several purposes:-

i)Improve the external appearance of the hall, making it look tidy, clean, and attractive to potential hirers.

ii)Provide an educational opportunity for the children at the playgroup. We have discussed our ideas with Marie Ball, and she is keen to involve the children in planting and tending plants, encouraging their interest in nature and the link from plant to food. We would also like to encourage their interest in nature with bird feeders etc, utilising the food scraps from the childrens lunches, thereby cutting down on waste.

iii)Provide a visible presence in the town centre for Transition Town Tenterden. With your permission we would like to put our poster and contact details etc in the Notice Board, and use the garden as part of our publicity to recruit more volunteers.

iv)Provide a potential source of income for our group by the sale of produce, if we are able to grow a large enough quantity.

v)Utilise a currently unused resource in the town for a purpose that has multiple benefits as summarized above

The maintenance of the garden would be undertaken by our volunteers, in conjunction with Ms Ball and her team. We would provide the equipment, plants etc, ourselves, by way of donations, etc, from supporters of the project. As the playgroup will be closed for the summer, we anticipate that planting will not take place until September. We will keep the area tidy until then, using the time to obtain plants and other equipment.

The following pictures provide examples of areas around the Hall that would be improved by planting flowering plants and/or vegetables.

This area between the oil tank and the windows could be improved by planting shade plants, and the concrete area at the rear would be an ideal location for raised beds, planters or potted plants.

The long narrow strip of land along the inside of the fence could be planted with spring bulbs and later, hollyhocks or sunflowers. The planting is an activity that could involve the preschool children.

This bed adjacent to the rear wall is very rich soil, having had plenty of fallen leaves decompose on it for a long time. It is therefore and ideal location for a vegetable patch, and again this is an area where children could learn about growing vegetables (such as pumpkins, radishes, carrots). It is also a nice place to put a bird and/or butterfly feeder.

The much-underused Highbury Hall sign could contain information about the Hall's history and purpose, information about the garden, its caretakers and the involvement of the preschool, as well as advertising events taking place at the Hall and contact information for potential hirers.

Not only will these measures improve the look of the Hall as a whole, but the education of young children and the aesthetics of Highbury Lane itself. There exists a lot of foot traffic on this lane with people going to the car park and Tesco beyond. Tesco themselves will benefit from these improvements to what is essentially their entrance from the High Street.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chemical-Free Pest Control

A common discussion topic among gardeners is how to keep out "unwanted" critters. Because we want to keep gardens safe for humans and animals, we come at this challenge from a different perspective.

We do not want plants to be eaten by insects and we don't want the garden to become a mouse colony. We're adamantly against using any chemicals or methods that might harm any of these beings.

Unfortunately, many people choose to use cruel methods that either injure or kill garden visitors. The problem is that most people are not aware that there are other ways to protect your garden that don't require you to harm any living beings.

The good news is that there are various fragrances and plants that can be used as deterrents against the following critters:

Aphids (plant lice): Plant chives, marigolds, mint, basil, or cilantro or place aluminum foil at the base of your plants. The foil reflects light onto the undersides of the leaves, which scares away aphids.
Ants: Put out cucumber peels or slices (bitter ones are best)— ants won't cross them. You can also try keeping ants away with coffee grounds, garlic, soap and water, or a string soaked in cayenne pepper, citrus oil, clove oil, or lemon juice. Place, sprinkle, or spray these items wherever you don't want ants to go.
Cockroaches: Create sachets of catnip and place them throughout the infested area (your cat will love you!). Cockroaches like high places, so put a few sachets on top of shelves and other elevated surfaces. Bay leaves, cucumbers, and garlic can also help to keep cockroaches away.
Codling moths: Use a cheesecloth square full of lavender, chives and garlic, or cedar chips. Try adding cedar oil, rosemary, dried lemon peels, or rose petals.
Deer: Place some soap shavings or used cat litter along the ground to create a boundary between their grazing area and your garden. Also try hanging a salt lick in their path to distract them from your plants.
Grasshoppers: Simply spray garlic oil where you don't want them, or plant calendula, horehound (a bitter herb), or cilantro.
Japanese beetles: Try chives, garlic, rue, and catnip.
Mice: Use mint plants, especially peppermint plants! Mice really dislike peppermint and will avoid any areas where it grows.
Mites (spider and clover): Try planting alder, coriander, or dill, and use rye mulch and wheat mulch.
Rabbits: Sprinkle chili pepper around plants (it must be reapplied if it gets wet). Install oven racks around plants. Rabbits tend to dislike their texture and the way that they feel on their feet. Other natural rabbit repellants include bellflowers, astilbes, asters, yarrows, cranesbills, hostas, lavender, sage, and other textured or thorny plants.
Slugs: Place mint, lemon balm, human hair (remove excess hair from hairbrushes and place in gardens), pine needles, cosmos, sage, or parsley in your garden.
Ticks and fleas: Plant mint, sweet woodruff, rosemary, and lavender. Also try placing cedar chips in your garden. They smell great to you … but not to fleas and ticks!
It's best to introduce these deterrents by planting them directly in your garden whenever possible. However, if some plants are not available in your area, you can also use essential oils. Marigolds— especially French marigolds— are easy to grow, are available in just about any climate, and attract many beneficial insects who will help protect your garden.

Please remember that you can keep your garden in top shape without harming any of our animal friends.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

National Allotment Week 2011

The allotment is a cornerstone of Transition Towns. The more people we have growing their own fruit and veg, the better it is for the environment, the less food miles from plot to plate, not to mention the health benefits of fresh organically grown food. We need to support allotments in our town. Go to this page (above) to find out more!

T3 Meeting Update

Just a reminder to you all that our next meeting will be held at Number 75 restaurant in the High Street, on July 27th at 7pm. Hope to see you all there!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Keeping Busy

Lots of interesting stuff happening recently. Here's a broad overview.

  • CleanUp Day. As you may have read in the minutes of last week's meeting, we are making progress with CleanUp Day steadily and surely. I put up posters all over the town in various establishments and have registered the event with CleanKent. Now have to do all the risk assessments and get the requisite numbers of gloves, hi-vis jackets, litter pickers, sacks etc. Need to work on a press release and get more people involved.  While at Tentertainment I talked both with Richard Parsons of Tenterden Lions Club and Alan Bates of the Residents' Association and they are both keen to get involved.
  • Bike To Work Wednesday #1 came and went, both Justin and I arrived on our bikes, and Chris, Christine and Carolyn were all present, though none of them actually ride bikes. Still - it's a start. Little acorns, etc.
  • We are moving quickly on our Highbury Hall Community Garden project. Highbury Hall is under threat. It is a much under-used resource and is in poor shape. It needs lots of TLC, so Hall committee members teamed up with T3 on June 26 to do a bit of weeding and sprucing up of the exterior. In doing so we thought "Wouldn't it be great if these empty plant beds were full of lovely flowers and perhaps veggies?". Someone else then suggested making it a community project. Alan Sugden, who is in charge of the committee, told us to put together a plan and submit it to him so that he could present it to the members at the next committee meeting. Carolyn and I recently met with Marie Ball, head of the playgroup that is based at the hall, and she was all for a plan to beautify the outside of the building and involve the children at the playgroup in various ways. Alan's concern was 'who would look after the garden?' so we agreed that T3 members and Playgroup would assume responsibility for its care. We currently have a proposal ready and are about to submit it to Alan.
  • We are possibly going to hold our next meeting at Number 75 restaurant (coincidentally right next to Highbury Hall) as they have a large outdoor veranda under cover of large umbrellas. The owner and head chef Tyrone and his wife Lizzie are keen to be involved with T3 and we have a few ideas for another community project (too early to disclose as it is still in the 'ideas' phase) and we will be working on developing it with Lizzie and Tyrone in the week and months to come.
  • We're planning to have a stall at Tenterden Folk Festival's weekend craft and arts fair. We have banners and posters and other materials ready to decorate our booth, we just need to raise the cash for the cost of the stall. It has been mooted that we might sell homemade preserves and such like at the stall in order to raise a little T3 petty cash. Need to start saving jars! The Folk Festival takes place at the end of September, so we've got time...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Busy Days

It's been an interesting couple of days since we held meeting number 2. At the meeting one of the things we decided on was to try to get some presence at Tentertainment, a 3-day music festival held in the town annually. It happens to be this weekend and I had kind of dismissed it as a possibility because of how soon it was, but it was suggested and so, emboldened, I called the organisers on Thursday morning and left them a voicemail. I also left them an email and a private message on the Tenterden town forum. In for a penny, in for a pound.

Later I sent some poster artwork over to the Media Centre at Homewood School and had them print some off for me. There being a strike on of course, there were no students, and so they were able to bang those out for me in record time (Thanks Charlotte!). I then went over to Tesco to grab a couple items and so, posters in hand, gave a couple to the lady behind the customer service counter.

This morning, after receiving an email from Tentertainment saying that we could be there and hand out flyers (yay!) I went to town and left posters at the Tenterden Gateway (they said they will scan them in and have them up on the scrolling ad screen above the Post Office counter), Caffe Nero, Costa Coffee, Savannah, Wilson Wilson & Hancock the opticians, Oxfam, the Leisure Centre, the Town Hall, Liquid Pleasure, Rising Star, Cafe Rouge, The Nutmeg Deli, St Michaels' Chip Shop and Waitrose. All that before 11 am.

This evening I went up to Tentertainment and met Andrew. We mingled with our T3 shirts on and informational postcards in hand, engaged a few folks in conversation, talking about T3, Bike To Work and CleanUp Day and handed out some flyers. Mike Carter, one of the organisers, told me that if I could bring a banner tomorrow he would attach it to the perimeter fence near the gate. As I went to the ATM I noticed some of our posters up in the windows of some of the aforementioned shops. I was told by Laura Rylands, with whom I worked at COOK, that she'd seen the posters up in Tesco. Hurrah!

Tomorrow I and Emma Isworth will be there. Come and see us, if you can.