Archive for the ‘Food and Agriculture’ Category

Bees are in trouble

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

BEES ARE IN TROUBLE and it is mostly because of us. We have destroyed much of their natural habitat, we have poisoned their food and in the case of honeybees, we have used them for our own purposes while not giving enough attention to their needs and welfare.
With the invention of the ‘movable frame’ hive, the second half of that century saw an exponential growth in commercial-scale beekeeping, and by the time motor vehicles became widely available, beekeeping on a widespread and industrial scale became a practical possibility.
Since then, bees have been treated in rather the same way as battery hens: routinely dosed with antibiotics and miticides in an effort to keep them producing, despite the growing problems of diseases and parasites and Neo-nicotinoid based insecticide-treated plants that have led to the emergence of so-called ‘Colony Collapse Disorder’.
Here are some things you can do to help the bees:

1. Stop using insecticides – especially for ‘cosmetic’ gardening.
2. Avoid seeds coated with systemic insecticides.
3. Read the labels on garden compost – beware hidden killers!
4. Create natural habitat.
5. Plant bee-friendly flowers.
6. Make a wild bee house.
7. Support your local beekeepers.

deadly insecticides manufactured by Bayer.
It is often disguised as Vine weevil protection.
but it is highly toxic to all insects and all soil life, including beneficial earthworms. The insecticide is taken up by plants, and if you use this compost in hanging baskets, bees seeking water from the moist compost may be killed.
Almost all the tulips bought in this country come from Holland and overwhelmingly these are the same tulip bulbs, saturated with enormously high levels of neurotoxic neonicotinoids – such as Imidacloprid

Every bumblebee queen that is poisoned in Spring represents a lost-colony; she will never lay her eggs and start a new colony.
Please contact me for further readily available and published details.

Kendal Seed Swap

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

Here’s a few photos from our Seeding Swap hosted by the Kendal Unitarian Chapel.

Kendal mayor John Veevers with seedlings to take home from the seed swap

Seedlings at the Kendal Seed Swap

Seed swap at Kendal Unitarian Chapel

The SLACC TT Monster Mural on display at the Kendal Unitarian Chapel

Forest Gardens in Cumbria

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Several SLACC TT Food group members went up to Penrith today for a brilliant Cumbria Forest Foods Network workshop.

Andy Goldring, head of the UK Permaculture Association ( gave his vision for local food security, encouraging as diverse a mix of methods of production as possible, including forest gardens, annual veg gardens, indoor sprouting, food preservation, wild food, mushroom production, local links (CSAs etc) and small livestock. ‘Spreading your bets’!

His top tip was pink fir apples – a variety of potato which stores really well- sometimes up until April!

Tomas Remiarz, research leader for the Permaculture Association, recommends Martin Crawford’s book on forest gardening – contact[at] to borrow a copy from the SLACC food group library.

Rick Cross, of Riversmeet Community Cooperative, Cockermouth is a driving force behind the CFFN. ‘This Network aims to contribute to the ecological well-being of all Cumbrian communities in a future Low Carbon Economy, by providing healthy food, outdoor recreation, fostering local enterprise and encouraging public participation through the Arts’.

Rick emphasised the opportunity to build community through local application of permaculture and forest gardens, particularly considering peak oil. The group discussed the issue of access to land, a major stumbling block for communities wanting to produce more food locally.

Do you have a forest garden? ( for an intro to forest gardens see If you are in Cumbria and haven’t responded to the questionnaire about Forest Gardens in Cumbria, please email naomi.vandervelden (at) to take part in the CFFN action research project.

Damson Harvesting

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

SLACC’s Abundance group is organising another damson harvest this year. Come along and join our harvest in the Lyth Valley, in conjunction with the Westmorland Damson Association –


Help us, and the Damson Association, to pick the fruit from their old orchards, and take some home at the end of the day.

Its a fun community activity, the fruit is delicious fresh off the tree, and there’s plenty you can do with the damsons – eat them, bake them, make a pie, preserve them, make wine, flavour gin or vodka, use them as a natural dye for clothing or wool, or freeze them and bring them along to our traditional fruit preserve workshop on 12th October!

Harvest dates depend on when the fruit has ripened, usually at the start of September. Register your interest and we’ll contact you with dates closer to the time. Please also let us know if you have a car and are willing to give others a lift. Email tsl.abundance[at] or phone Ruth on 07851  719 444

Staveley’s apples

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

Staveley’s new apple trees are growing up!

Some of the grafts haven’t taken, the poor things, so we’re down to 45 trees but the other rootstocks will keep until next year … if Staveley can wait that long. The survivors have put up with drought, neverending rain, and being blown over in gales – good preparation for the rest of their lives. Here’s a photo of a Bradley’s Beauty:

Bradley's Beauty

And here’s a photo of all the trees together:

The trees

If you live in Staveley and would like a tree contact Lorna – 01539 822165 or tsl.abundance[at]gmail[dot]com.

Kendal’s guerrilla garden

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Back in May a few SLACC members did a spot of guerrilla gardening at Kendal’s Waterside estate. Today we checked how it was doing and, despite not having a lot of TLC, its doing really well! There’s tomatoes, broad beans, sunflowers, cabbage, parsley, chamomile, borage, cauliflowers, mint, spring onions, nasturtiums and chives. Here’s some piccies…

broad beans








Super Sprint Mill!

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

15 members of the Food & Agriculture group had a grand trip out to Sprint Mill last Saturday. We learnt all about Edward and Romola’s philosophy on sustainable, low impact living. To start the day we were given a greenwood demonstration – Edward coppices all the mill’s wood for heat and cooking, makes gates and hurdles for the smallholding, and makes greenwood crafts, beanpoles, pea sticks etc… the goats even join in on the fun by eating the bark.

Group photo in the veg patch

Edward walked us around some of his smallholding, showing us the vegetable plot they have in the garden and the field they own a short distance away. The field  is divided into 10 compartments including an orchard, a few ‘coppicettes’ (small areas of coppiced hazel), a section of biomass willow, some basketry willow, and their traditional hay meadows full of lovely meadowsweet, hay rattle and other traditional hay plants … all loved by the mill’s bees!

in amongst the ash trees

in the field

Before lunch we all had the chance to use Edward’s scythes along the lane – great fun, quick and much more sociable than a noisy strimmer!


If you would like to know about the group’s projects or would like to host a meeting please contact[at]gmail[dot]com.

Watch out for potato blight

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

The Kendal Grow Your Own Group is advising local potato growers to be on the look-out for potato blight.  This fungal disease likes the warm and wet weather that we have recently had, and if unchecked will soak into the potato tubers where it will cause a nasty smelling rot.  The rot can spread in store, too.

The first signs are brown patches on the potato leaf, usually on the edges, with a lighter green margin. Eventually, the leaf will rot, and it can spread to the stems.

Blighted potatos

“If you suspect you’ve got blight on your potatoes, the best thing to do is to remove any leaves and burn or dispose of them well away from the garden or allotment” says Ros Taylor of the Grow Your Own helpline. “If you don’t do this, spores will drop onto the soil and spread to the potatoes themselves. If you remove the tops, the potatoes can be dug up for immediate use, but you can leave them in the soil for 2-3 weeks without them coming to any harm and they will have a chance to form a skin and so store better.  If your potatoes already have blight, you will see it when they are dug up.”

Potato blight

The Grown Your Own scheme offers advice and northern know-how and its volunteer advisors can be reached by telephone or email (07980 325804 )

Apples and sunshine (sort of)

Monday, July 12th, 2010

Yesterday’s Staveley Carnival was a great success. Despite the theme being Under Staveley’s Umbrella all the bright colours and funky drumming managed to keep the rain away and coax the sun to come out for an hour or two.

Here are some photos of the carnival costumes

Carnival umbrella

Carnival giant

The joint SLACC, SENS and Apples for All stall was fantastic (even if we do say so ourselves)!!

SENS and Staveley GTi ( had a bike related quiz and gave away 3 pre-loved bikes to 3 lucky winners.

Volunteers were busy on the Apples for All stall encouraging passers-by to press their own apple juice and have a taste, sign up for a free apple tree and come along to our Apple Day on 16th October. Despite promising free apple trees in October we also sold 3 trees grafted by SLOG (

Apples for All!

squished apples and strawberries


As always, contact tsl.abundance[at] if you want to get involved in appley events, we especially need volunteers for our Apple Day on October 16th!

And contact staveleygti[at] ifor more info on the Green Travel Initiative

Conservation Cows on Whitbarrow Scar – Sun 23rd May

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

The SLACC Food and Agriculture Group  organsied a walk and talk last Sunday looking at conservation grazing, led by organic farmer Bill Grayson. Visitors met his Blue-grey, Red Poll and Shorthorn cattle that are grazing the beautiful Whitbarrow grasslands. A picnic was shared after the walk.

shorthorn cattle