After Hugh: Your #WarOnPlastic

Are you feeling outraged or depressed after watching #WarOnPlastic?  There are active steps you can take:


Catherine Ross from Sustainable St Albans is fired up – follow her tips to reduce the single use plastic in your life.


KITCHEN

* Open your fridge door and have a hard stare. What is unnecessary? Do you buy lots of small individually-wrapped things that you could swap for a larger one?

* Take your own string bags or small plastic bags to the supermarket to put loose fruit & veg in.

*if you drink dairy milk get it delivered in glass bottles see Find Me A Milkman  – ditch the plastic

Organic veg for sale at The Green Kitchen Vegan Cafe on Hatfield Road

* Take your own containers (plastic, glass, or bamboo) to the supermarket, and ask for cheese, fish and meat to be put in your containers.

* Or get your fresh produce from local suppliers who aim to reduce plastic like Box Local, Carpenter’s Nursery, Smallford Farm Shop and organic veg from The green kitchen Vegan cafe

* You can get all sorts of dried food and household products from The Refill Pantry off the London Road in central St Albans and Eat Wholefoods on Hatfield Rd (and regularly at the market). If you haven’t tried either yet, get over there, with your empty jars and cleaned out ice cream tubs in hand.

Get rid of the cling film – use bees wrap or vegan food wrap from The Refill Pantry or search online

BATHROOM

* The Refill Pantry, Eat Whole Foods, Lush St Albans, the Phase out Plastic stall in St Albans and online stores also sell deodorants, shampoo, soap etc plastic free.

* You can get toilet paper without plastic packaging from Who Gives A Crap – but it does have a long journey to get here…

* There is a wide choice of reusable period wear -period pants or reusable pads, e.g. from St Albans based award-winning business WUKA

LAUNDRY

* Make your clothes washing plastic-free with powder in a cardboard box (from your local supermarket or for example from Ecover UK) and refill your fabric conditioner at The Refill Pantry,  Eat Whole Foods or Ecover again.

OUT AND ABOUT

* You know this! Drink tap water not bottled. Carry your own water bottle and ask for refills. You can use the Refill app to see which businesses locally will let you fill up with tap water – Refill HQ , or just ask.

* Carry your own reusable coffee cup (don’t just buy it, actually carry it!) or sit down in a cafe and use crockery. (Sign up to Refill app on June 19th and get 5% off a Chilly water bottle)

* Make lunch at home and take it in a lunch box. You’ll save money, save plastic and probably eat better food.

* Did you know that Parker and Vine food and deli shop in Harpenden have made the brave decision to ban single use coffee cups – they even have a reusable bottle loan scheme for customers – but just take your own reusable cup!

BIGGER ACTIONS

We’re not going to shop ourselves out of the climate emergency, so far more important than any of the above, are the following three actions;

* Simply don’t buy stuff you don’t need.

* Write to/tell your councillor / MP that you care.  Ask them to act. For example, ask for more water fountains in St Albans (there are two new ones now, in town and Clarence Park). Ask exactly where your recycling goes. Ask your MP to support deposit return schemes and vote for legislation requiring the manufacturer to be responsible for their waste. Find your local councillor here

* Tell companies it’s NOT OK. If something arrives over-packaged, tweet about it. If you see something ludicrous at the supermarket, ask for the manager and let them know; especially if you see loose produce that costs more than the wrapped equivalent. If you go to a meeting with plastic-wrapped sandwiches, say you’d prefer something different next time. Generally, comment … do it nicely, but comment. Be a conscious consumer and use your voice.


See more ideas with Plastic Free St Albans here


  • Plastic pollution can now be found on every beach in the world, from busy tourist beaches to uninhabited, tropical islands nowhere is safe.
  • Scientists have recently discovered microplastics embedded deep in the Arctic ice.
  • In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic; in 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.
  • Every day approximately 8 million pieces of plastic pollution find their way into our oceans.
  • There may now be around 5.25 trillion macro and microplastic pieces floating in the open ocean. Weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.
  • Plastics consistently make up 60 to 90% of all marine debris studied.
  • Approx 5,000 items of marine plastic pollution have been found per mile of beach in the UK.
  • Over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches.
  • Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species examined.
  • 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually

What makes our city sustainable?

Place is such an important factor in identity. When you meet someone, your first question is most likely ‘Where are you from?’ The pride that may (or may not) come from the answer given is what I work to foster in St Albans. As #SustFest19 will tell you, sustainability is not just about reduce/reuse/recycle. While important, elements around community cohesion, mental wellbeing and business viability all contribute to a city’s sustainability.


Gin & Jazz 2018 Stephanie Belton (3)

Credit: Stephanie Belton 2018

Today’s blog is written by Helen Burridge, Business Manager of St Albans Bid – which is sponsoring the #SustFest19 St Albans Market Takeover on Sunday 19th May.


St Albans businesses care deeply about the viability of this city. The economic confidence of the community, the visitors, the employees and the residents will translate into economic prosperity for its businesses. Three years ago, the businesses in St Albans voted to become a Business Improvement District, paying a small contribution into a pot that collectively makes a significant contributor to events, public realm, safety and marketing of the City. The BID can also help to represent those businesses in various discussions with the public and private sectors on a local, regional and national level.

As the BID Manager of St Albans BID it’s my job to make sure that the investment made by the BID Members makes the city a great place to live, work and do business, both now and in the future, and of course a large part of that work then becomes looking at ways to make the city more sustainable, in the many and various ways that that covers.

clown

While I will acknowledge the ongoing wailing and gnashing of teeth about the ‘death of the high street’ in fact, there is an argument to say that this change in retail is actually the death throes of consumerism itself. A change from ‘want/have’ economics to ‘need/consider’ economics: the desperate and hysterical consumption of the 80s and 90s now looks decidedly distasteful and is being replaced by a borrow/reuse/packaging free/fewer-better kind of purchasing.

TimeTurn 2018 Credit Stephanie Belton (42)

Credit: Stephanie Belton

St Albans as a City is well placed to survive this change in consumer behaviour. The self-selecting curation of our retail businesses (you will find an audience if your product is good) is continuing to be demonstrated by reliable, quality local (and national) brands weathering the current climate and providing confident, good-news stories about customer experience, quality product and curated taste-making. On the internet, endless choice is overwhelming. In St Albans you will find a quality offer, selected by informed businesses, helping you to make reasoned decisions about where you shop, where you eat and where you socialise.

small bid logo picture - 19.12.2017In the wider community there are many and various entrepreneurial and disruptive businesses considering these changes in consumer behaviour and working to appeal to a considered and engaged local population. Can you eat vegan or vegetarian? Can you buy locally grown or locally made products? Can you go plastic-free, or packaging-free? Can you travel in a way that is more kind to the environment while still being relevant to what you need to get through your day? There are so many options and it can be overwhelming to know where to start to live a more sustainable life.

With this in mind, St Albans BID is delighted to sponsor the St Albans Market Takeover on Sunday 19 May. Bringing together like-minded businesses to prevent the many and various ways that small interventions by individuals can make a collective difference will help to show that actually these changes are not that insurmountable.

St Albans BID supports the Market Takeover because it’s the right thing to do, but also because the day will be fun, engaging, illuminating and most importantly, it will encourage and support enough individuals to make small changes that will, collectively make a large impact. Just like BID. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Market

Follow the Blue Dot trail

From May 11th ’til June 1st join in with Plastic Free St Albans Blue Dot Art Trail #SustFest19 event. Spot the dots and discover a variety of creative perspectives on the topic of single-use plastic through the lens of local artists.

• Over 30 incredible pieces of art created by local artists
• Covering a multitude of media from oil painting, photography to mixed media
• Being exhibited in many venues in and around St Albans incl Courtyard Cafe, Inn On the Park, St Albans Museum, Raft, The Refill Pantry, Headcase barbers, Fade to Black and many more…
• Can be experienced as a full trail or in separate visits, let’s see how many dots you can spot to protect our precious planet, the earth, our blue dot.
• Find the digital map @ https://plasticfreestalbans.org.uk/sustfest19-art-trail/

Don’t forget to share your thoughts and ideas about the trail and what we can do to reduce single-use plastic on our plastic free St Albans FB page, Instagram or twitter! Include #bluedotarttrail

Could you go veggie? St Albans-based food writer Becky Alexander tells us how she got on

So, what’s the number one food trend in the UK at the moment? I’ve been a food writer in St Albans for 10 years and the most dramatic change I have seen has been the shift away from eating meat.

Go in to any cafe, restaurant, pub or coffee shop (we love coffee shops!) and you will find vegetarian and vegan food – this just wasn’t the case two years ago. Even people who eat meat, are eating less.


This week’s blog is written by Becky Alexander, food columnist for The Herts Advertiser.


Until 18 months ago, I ate meat – not loads, but usually a roast on a Sunday with the family (we have two teenage daughters) and the occasional midweek chicken curry or pork chop or sausages. And then that changed. I am now vegetarian (well, I eat fish occasionally), and I often get asked about how that is going, especially by friends when we are reading menus and deciding what to order.

A lightbulb moment?

cows.png

So, what changed? What was the lightbulb moment for me? Climate change was one – raising cows to eat is really bad for greenhouse gases, compared to other food sources.

The vegan and vegetarian movement was impossible to ignore – everywhere I went to review had interesting veggie options on the menu and magazines and newspapers were full of recipes. Images of factory farming – you have to have a tough stomach to be happy with those.

I also work in food book publishing and every new book was about vegan and plant-based food. Joe Wicks, The Hairy Bikers and Jamie Oliver have written them – veggie food is now mainstream. If you need some easy ideas, head to Waterstones and you will be spoilt for choice!

 

3 books

Cooking veggie food is cheaper, more interesting, and for me, healthier. As a family we now eat a much broader range of ingredients and far more vegetables, which has to be a good thing.

My new way of thinking is that if you don’t have to eat meat, then why would you? Government NHS guidelines say we don’t need meat very often, and red meat rarely. If you are worried about not getting enough iron and protein in your diet then have a chat with a nutritionist – and bear in mind that eating processed meat isn’t great for you either.

So, how can you cut back on eating meat?

Maybe start with lunchtime – next time you are buying your work lunch in Pret or M&S or wherever, choose something new. I really like the avo, olive and pine nut baguette in Pret. Hummus, falafel and cheese are easy choices too.

Eating out is a good way to try a new ingredient. We have great Turkish restaurants in St Albans for example, the natural home of delicious aubergine dips and falafel. I think I first tried roast cauliflower in Tabure, and now love it.

I had an excellent veggie burger in The Meating Room with the kids the other day. The Courtyard Cafe is a great place for good veggie food (they are making a special Sumptuous Soup throughout SustFest).

multi 157 courtyard cafe

Sumptuous Soup made with local ingredients including herbs from the cafe garden and organic veg from Earthworks at The Courtyard Cafe #SustFest19

Indian restaurants are ace at vegetarian food – dahls and chickpea curries are what people in India have eaten forever. Try tofu in a Chinese or Japanese restaurant and you will see how it is meant to taste – delicious, I promise! And more authentic than over-sweetened chicken in a sauce of some kind.

I’ve eaten fantastic veggie food in Loft, the Abbey and The Ivy – great chefs can be very creative so you don’t need to feel you are missing out when you go out for dinner. (It’s cheaper too.)

And it’s great for the planet!

Vegetarian food is officially better for the planet. In the Guardian a while back, there was a report[1] by research scientists at Oxford University that claimed:

Avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth.’

 Wow! That’s quite a claim.

According to the scientists, not eating meat has more impact than not flying or driving! That’s a pretty painless way to do your bit for the planet.

Why not try one of the events at SustFest for more ideas? Maybe a vegan brunch at Charlie’s or a cooking class? And then just take it a meal, a day or a week at a time – if everyone does that, we can make a real difference.


[1] (J Poore and T Nemecek, Science, June 2018) and Damian Carrington, Guardian, May 2018.


See individual SustFest Climate Actions here

Sustainable Food #SustFest19 Events here and see below

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SUNDAY 12TH MAY

SIMPLE LUNCH

12noon – 2pm

FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / DONATIONS / BOOK
Bread and cheese lunch to support Christian Aid using delicious locally sourced, organic and vegetarian ingredients.
Where St Stephen’s Church Hall, Watling St, St Albans AL1 2PT
Info rajohnston2@googlemail.com 01727 862598
PARISH OF ST STEPHEN WITH ST JULIAN, ST ALBANS

EAT VEGAN! – AN INTRODUCTION TO VEGAN COOKERY
4pm – 6pm

FOOD / £5 INC A HOT DRINK + TAKE HOME CAKE / BOOK
Sample some delicious dairy and egg-free dishes. Chat about vegan foods, try different plant milks and learn how to make your cooking animal free.
Where The Green Kitchen Cafe, Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL4 0XP
Info www.the-green-kitchen.co.uk 01727 753661
THE GREEN KITCHEN VEGAN CAFE

13TH – 30TH MAY

SUSTAINABLE LOCAL PRODUCE BOX

13TH – 30TH MAY
FOOD / £16

A box of locally sourced produce delivered to you. 6 different types of fruit and veg, 100g of Wobbly Bottom goat’s cheese, 6 free range eggs and a jar of honey.
Where http://www.boxlocalfood.co.uk
Info Order by Mon 13th for delivery Thur 16th, Mon 20th for Thur 23rd, Mon 27th for Thur 30th
BOX LOCAL

TUESDAY 14TH MAY

DINING WITH A CONSCIENCE
7pm for 7.30pm sit down

FOOD / ADULTS ONLY / £35pp 4 COURSES; GLASS OF ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE / BOOK
Lussmanns flagship sustainable St Albans restaurant teams up with ‘war on waste’ ambassador Rubies in the Rubble for a stunning 4-course vegetarian dinner.
Where Lussmanns Waxhouse Gate, High St, St Albans AL3 4EW
Info Booking essential www.lussmanns.com
LUSSMANNS

WEDNESDAY 15TH MAY

SUSTAINABLE COOKING FOR OUR PLANET AND HEALTH
12noon – 2.15pm

FOOD / FREE / BOOK
Part 1: Come and cook with me and pick up tips on sourcing local produce, saving energy and reducing waste while making delicious vegetarian food to take home. For part 2 see Friday 17th May.
Where The Cobbled Kitchen, 69 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BY
Info Book via www.thecobbledkitchen.co.uk 
THE COBBLED KITCHEN

THURSDAY 16TH MAY

EAT YOUR GREENS LUNCH AT LONDON COLNEY
12noon – 2pm

FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / £5 / BOOK
At our regular lunch club, held on Tuesday and Thursday, we will be eating our greens by offering a vegetarian menu. 3 courses are £5; free tea and coffee.
Where Caledon Community Centre, Caledon Rd, London Colney AL2 1PU
Info www.londoncolney-pc.gov.uk 01727 821314
LONDON COLNEY PARISH COUNCIL

ENVIRONMENTAL FILM AFTERNOON
2pm – 3pm

FILM / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Come along to Café on the Corner to watch a short film created by people we support at Camphill St Albans. It will show what they do to contribute to being environmentally sustainable in St Albans.
Where Café on the Corner, 39 Catherine St, St Albans AL3 5BJ
Info www.cvt.org.uk 
CAMPHILL VILLAGE TRUST-ST ALBANS COMMUNITY: ‘CAFÉ ON THE CORNER’

BREAD MAKING FOR BEGINNERS
7pm – 9.30pm

FOOD / DONATION / BOOK
Bread making is easy, come and try it for yourself. No experience necessary. Bring a bowl, 1-pint jug, 1lb metal bread tin, apron.
Where Church Hall, SS Alban and Stephen RC Church, 14 Beaconsfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RB
Info Book via email grabecki@hotmail.com
SS ALBAN AND STEPHEN RC CHURCH

FRIDAY 17TH MAY

SUSTAINABLE COOKING FOR OUR PLANET AND HEALTH
12noon – 2.15pm

FOOD / FREE / BOOK
Part 2: Come and cook with me! Learn how to increase the veg content of your diet and use leftovers imaginatively. Take home lots of delicious veggie food too!
Where The Cobbled Kitchen, 69 Harpenden Rd, St Albans AL3 6BY
Info Book via www.thecobbledkitchen.co.uk
THE COBBLED KITCHEN

SUNDAY 19TH MAY

VEGAN BRUNCH AT CHARLIE’S
Two sittings 9am or 11am

FOOD / £29pp / BOOK
3-course vegan brunch to start your Suday. From team Charlie’s and chefs from Chappell and Caldwell. Thoughtfully sourced food; sustainable focus; plenty of coffee!
Where Charlie’s Coffee and Company, 87 London Rd, St Albans AL1 1LN
Info Book at www.chappellandcaldwell.com/brunch
CHARLIE’S COFFEE AND COMPANY

ST ALBANS MARKET TAKE OVER
11am – 5pm

DAY OUT / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Over 60 stalls from businesses and charities showcasing: holidays without flying, home energy, eco friendly food, looking after our town, low carbon shopping, live bands, street food, electric cars, bikes and bike repair, e-bikes for you to ride and more!
Where St Albans Market, St Peters St, St Albans
Info Click here for more information about Market Takeover
SUSTAINABLE ST ALBANS AND ST ALBANS FRIENDS OF THE EARTH

RESTORATIVE ECONOMY TALK AND LUNCH
10.30am – 1.30pm

TALK / FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Talk by a Tearfund representative about how to live sustainably followed by vegetarian lunch in the large hall. Part of regular morning worship at St Pauls.
Where St Paul’s Church, Blandford Rd, St Albans AL1 4JP
Info www.stpauls-stalbans.org 
ST PAULS CHURCH

THURSDAY 23RD MAY

BUSINESS ANGEL INVESTING IN THE GREEN ECONOMY – BE PART OF THE SOLUTION!
7pm – 9pm

INVESTMENT / ADULTS ONLY / £40 INC DINNER AND WINE / BOOK
Enjoy dinner at Lussmanns and discover the potential value to you of angel investments in the Green Economy, from the UK’s leading specialists.
Where Lussmanns, Waxhouse Gate, High St, St Albans AL3 4EW
Info www.greenangelsyndicate.com/events
GREEN ANGEL SYNDICATE

FRIDAY 24TH MAY

PLASTIC FREE PICNIC
3.30pm – 5.30pm

PICNIC / CHILD FRIENDLY / FREE
Can you pack a picnic without using any single use plastic – or even no plastic? Bring your picnic along with the family. Glean new ideas about going plastic free!
Where Nr the play park, Batford Springs, Harpenden
Info Facebook.com/groups/296871424156643
PLASTIC FREE HARPENDEN

SATURDAY 25TH MAY

TABLE TOP GAMES NIGHT AND VEGAN BUFFET 7.30pm – 11pm

PLAY / ADULTS ONLY / £8pp / BOOK
Have fun playing those nostalgic, traditional games from way back including; dominoes, chess, battleships, Guess Who and Jenga! Vegan buffet included. BYOB.
Where United Reform Church, Homewood Rd, St Albans AL1 4BH
Info 01727 753661
THE GREEN KITCHEN

SATURDAY 1ST JUNE 2019

FAMILY SUSTAINABLE PICNIC
12noon – 2pm

PICNIC / AIMED AT CHILDREN / FREE
Sustainable picnic. Bring along your crudités in bamboo snack boxes, your beeswax wrapped delights and your home-made bites and join us for a picnic in the park.
Where Verulamium Park, St Albans, by kids play park.
Info www.mamabamboo.com 07966 406993. Cancelled in bad weather.
MAMA BAMBOO

INCLUSIVE 11th May to 1st June

COMMUNITY CAFE
11TH MAY – 1ST JUNE (EXCEPT SUNDAYS) 10am – 2pm

FOOD / CHILD FRIENDLY / REASONABLY PRICED
Our community cafe will have daily specials promoting healthy eating!
Where Cross Street Centre Cafe, 1 Cross St, St Albans AL3 5EE
Info Facebook: @crossstreetcentre
CROSS STREET CENTRE CAFE

SUMPTUOUS SUSTAINABLE SOUP
11TH MAY – 1ST JUNE During Opening Hours

FOOD / OFFER / CHILD FRIENDLY
For SustFest the cafe will serve Sumptuous Sustainable Soup, made with local ingredients including herbs from the cafe garden and organic veg from Earthworks.
Where The Courtyard Cafe, 11 Hatfield Rd, St Albans AL1 3RR
Info www.courtyardcafestalbans.co.uk
THE COURTYARD CAFÉ


 

 

Do you eat food? Then you can change the world.

“We take our groceries for granted, but they’re a big part of every day for us all and it’s easy to forget that what we eat impacts the world in countless ways.”



We are delighted to introduce this fascinating guest blog this week from Naomi Distill, the inspiration behind Incredible Edible St Albans, a project of Food Smiles St Albans – and the winners of  Environmental Champions in the St Albans Mayor’s Pride Awards 2019.


In our modern, global world our food systems play into almost every big issue on earth;

air and water pollution, soil depletion and loss, hunger and poverty, climate change, economy, habitat loss and species extinction, animal cruelty and human slavery, rubbish and landfill, public health and antibiotic resistance.

But as author and activist Michael Pollan famously says:

“The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world.”

The food with the smallest environmental impact is that which grows easily on the land where you live. That way your food has grown in harmony with its environment without the need for extra inputs, it supports local people and economy, and it doesn’t need to travel, nor be wrapped, gassed and refrigerated for travel. And there’s no better way to reduce those food miles and to know that your food is naturally grown than to grow some of it yourself.

2017 working together2

FoodSmiles St Albans growing site

Healthy food without chemicals and food for the soul

Growing even a little of your own food has countless benefits. Not only do you get healthy food grown without chemicals, without a big carbon footprint and without a plastic wrapper. It is more nutritious and often more delicious, because it’s perfectly fresh and because the soils in biodiverse home gardens and allotments tend to be much more nutrient-rich than tired farm soils bearing monocultures. It’s cheap, easy to do and extemely rewarding.

You get to reconnect with natural cycles and processes that are all but forgotten in modern life..

beetroot

..and you get to spend time outdoors, in contact with the earth, hearing the sounds and witnessing the intricacies of nature and breathing fresh air.

You get a little exercise too, and it’s a perfect way to connect with other like-minded people if you decide to take on an allotment or join a community growing scheme.

But I don’t know how

A lot of people seem afraid to try growing food because they feel they don’t know how, but there really is nothing simpler than putting a few seeds in some compost, keeping it moist and seeing what happens, and you have little to lose!

seedlings

Plants WANT to grow – they WANT to succeed and fruit and prosper –

..so many will take care of themselves if you just provide for their basic needs, and the back of the seed pack usually has a few useful tips too (ALWAYS to be taken as guidelines, not gospel!) and there are many books and websites available to guide you along the way. As with learning to cook, you won’t get everything right all the time, but you’ll learn as you go along and improve each and every time you try!

flower peas

Where to begin

Identify where you’re going to grow..

..choosing an area with as much direct sunshine and natural light as possible.

Next, choose your veg. A great way to do this is to first think of the vegetables you already eat most at home – though if you subsist on aubergines, sweet potatoes and chickpeas some compromise might be a good idea; some crops are easy while others have trickier needs, so it’s a good idea to start with the simplest or else grow a mix!

The absolute easiest crops to grow in our climate are potatoes, French beans, broad beans, Swiss chard, courgettes, tomatoes, beetroots, lettuces and salad leaves.

leaves

Swiss Chard is easy to grow

Short on space

red radishThough you’d get more from a garden patch, many useful crops can be grown in pots on your patio, front drive or even a balcony, and many people grow significant amounts of food this way. Focus on crops that give a continuous harvest for a period, such as tomatoes, beans, and salad greens, and be sure to water (and feed) well as pots often dry out faster than the earth.

Short on time?

Perennial crops save loads of time and last year-round or come back each spring, with no need for digging the soil, sowing, transplanting and so on each year. Fruit bushes, strawberries, rhubarb and woody herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano etc.) are all reliable low-maintenance perennials..

..but also consider searching out perennial greens such as Caucasian vining spinach, perennial kale, sea beet, wild rocket, sorrel and more, as well as reliable self-seeders such as purslane, winter purslane and land cress.

Once planted, your food plot will need little care other than occasional weeding and thinning, and annual pruning of fruit bushes.

Short on sunshine

Leafy crops are a good choice for shady plots; try lettuces, rocket, cabbage, kale, spring onions, spinach and chard.

If your plot gets sunlight for half the day, most root crops will be okay too; potatoes, carrots and beetroots are all well worth a try, and so are peas and broad beans.

beansand carrots

What are you waiting for?

Now is the perfect time to start planning, whether you’d like to rent an allotment, revamp the garden or just start a single pot on your patio. Grow a little something this year and see how rewarding, healthy and delicious it can be!

Or if you’re still not ready to go it alone, consider joining a community growing group such as FoodSmiles St Albans, where members work together to grow food and learn growing skills –

or join us at one of our Incredible Edible gardens where you can see how we do it and grill us with your gardening questions!

Tips for low-carbon growing:

  • Buy only peat-free compost (or make your own, but clean and sterile commercial compost will give you a higher success rate when seed-sowing).
  • Grow from organic seeds or seeds that you (or a friend) have saved. Organic seeds come from strains of plants that haven’t had to rely on chemical fertilisers or pesticides, so their offspring shouldn’t have to rely on them either.
  • Sow at the correct time, when light levels and temperatures are adequate for what you’re trying to grow – this avoids the need for growlights or heated propagators. Often a seed packet will tell you the very earliest time you could possibly get away with sowing a seed, but aim a bit later to give it the best chance. On a similar note, do you best to grow plants which are suitable for your location; plants with less-than-desirable growing conditions often need more input to keep them healthy. Consider growing more of the things you grow well, and swapping some with a friend who succeeds with different crops.
  • Avoid chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which have a high carbon footprint and harm the soil, the insect life and possibly you! Most pest problems on a small scale can be controlled by hand (removal or squishing!), with a mild home-made soap spray, or by using insect-proof mesh to keep insects off.
  • Install a water butt to harvest rainwater for your garden.
  • Don’t be tempted by all the fancy equipment that’s available! Buy only what you need, or share tools with a friend, and buy quality that will last. And try not to buy plastic pots – many gardeners will have a surplus they’re happy to share with you, or you can easily find inspiration online for repurposing other containers for food-growing.

Naomi Distill, FoodSmiles St Albans 2019 (All photos from Naomi Distill).

 

If you are intrigued and want to find out more – FoodSmiles St Albans are taking part in SustFest19 with at least three events during the festival.

Sat 11 May: FoodSmiles Open Day, and site tour – with cake!  Hammonds End Farm site

Sun 12 May: Incredible Edible, Civic Centre St Albans

Sat 25th May: Incredible Edible Russell AVe, St Albans

Also see Open Food Gardens 2019 programme

onions leeks