Community Fund – Pleasley Community Orchard – October update

Pleasley Community Orchard held its first Apple Day celebration on 21st October, which is National Apple Day. The celebrations were to be held in the orchard, with a apple pressing, a BBQ, garden games and cider from local producers.

However, on the morning of the event, we assessed the weather and with the high winds (up to 50mph) forecast during the event, we had to change the venue to St Barnabas’ Church, just around the corner. Many thanks to the church for letting us use their church facilities at such short notice!

The church was set up with an apple cutting / mashing and pressing station which proved very popular with all ages, with people bringing their own apples to add to the mix. Adults got busy cutting and pressing whilst the children enjoying cranking the handle on the masher. We pressed in excess of 30 litres of juice during the event! Everyone managed to have free glasses of the juice straight from the press into their glass, and commented that it tasted so much better than the “fresh” juice from the supermarket. Thanks to St Edmund’s Church in Mansfield Woodhouse for lending us their 12 litre apple press and mashing equipment.

Children and adults also enjoyed the variety of garden games which were on offer – chess, draughts, dominoes, Jenga, quoits, and 9 pin skittles. Thanks again to St Edmund’s loaning us these games – they really added to the fun of the event.

We had a selection of four local ciders (sweet, through medium, to dry) for people to purchase. These were sourced for us by local cider enthusiast Mick, who did a sterling job in getting them from Sisson & Smith and the Blue Barrel Cider Company.

Also available was a BBQ with the usual refreshments, which were heartily enjoyed by the community. We are very grateful to our local councillor Diana Meale for sponsoring the food, and to Vegware who graciously gave us the cups, glasses and plates – all of which are completely compostable and were mixed with our pressed apple “cake” to our compost bins at the end of the day.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this whole event a huge success, whether on the delivery team, the St John’s Ambulance team, or joining in with the community spirit by coming along and having fun.

What happened to the remaining apple juice? Well, there’s 25 litres brewing away in the vicarage airing cupboard to be used at our upcoming Wassailing celebration on 21st January 2018! Pleasley Community Orchard Cider in the making.

This blog originally appeared on Pleasley Community Orchard’s blog.

Community Fund – Glasgow Old People’s Welfare Association – October update

This month our main protagonists, Stewart and Robert, led by Janie from the Woodlands Community Gardens braved the ever decreasing temperatures to plant bulbs in our garden which we hope will bloom in the Spring. Activity in the garden has slowed due to the decline in the weather but a few hardy souls can regularly be found enjoying the sheltered areas throughout the day.

Community Fund – Feed Our Communities – October update

At Feed Our Communities we were funded to purchase crafted wooden games rather than cardboard-based games.
We run this each Monday between 12pm and 4pm.
We will shortly be announcing the start of our new horticulture programme, which we hope will generate as much interest as the lunch club has.
On the 17th of November we’ll be running a fundraiser using our logic puzzles as the main feature

Knucklas 17


Knucklas 17 was an Iron Age Festival held this summer by Knucklas Castle Community Land Project at Knucklas Castle on the Welsh border.

The day was great fun – full of different things about the Iron Age, including the playing of a replica mighty Carnyx which lead a procession down the hill. This an enormous horn with a boars head at the end which has been found by archaeologists in early Celtic sites, and we imagined a time two thousand years earlier when perhaps this horn had been played on our castle’s slopes – in battles or in ceremonies – we can only guess.

We ate delicious organic food, while admiring the stunning views across the Teme Valley, practiced ancient crafts including weaving, pottery, wood-turning and fire-making and learnt about Iron Age crops and ancient farming methods. In the daytime there were guided nature walks through the woods to the top and treasure hunts. There was a camp fire, a barbeque and drinks and various performances in the marquee: story-telling, hilarious solos, poetry, folk and jazz, all M.C’d by Ian Marchant disguised as a roving druid.

We were able to raise further badly needed funds for the Project and thank you so much Vegware for your support!

Knucklas Castle Community Land Project.

is a non-profit-making cooperative which manages 21 acres of land in the village of Knucklas in the Welsh borders.  The castle is a listed ancient monument, though little remains above ground, and the site is of great natural beauty with stunning views from the summit in all directions. It has a rich heritage of history and legend, from the many struggles between the Mortimers and the Welsh kings to ancient myths of Arthur and Guinevere.

The Project has made paths with a sculpture trail to the top. Here sheep graze on a managed programme to encourage the wild flowers which now flourish. On the lower slopes the woods have traces of ancient woodland and lower still a community orchard has been planted and community allotments established. Here food is grown organically, and there are bees and chickens and some of the produce is sold to support the Project. We aim to give everyone from local villagers to those further afield the chance to build a sustainable relationship with the environment.

The Land Project hopes to raise enough money to purchase the land outright.

Community Fund – Scottish Beekeepers – October update

As the honeybees settle down for winter, and the beekeepers breathe a wee sigh, so the winter season of talks and presentations begins! We are delighted to be working with St Maurice’s High School in Cumbernauld to educate pupils and teachers on all things honeybees and beekeeping. Their horticulture and growing clubs have made a fantastic difference to the school and it was wonderful to see their new orchard, raised beds and chicken coop! Fingers crossed there will be a few hives there next year!

St Maurice High School, Cumbernauld

Next it was the turn of the younger ones, when we visited 70 children at Jessie Porter Nursery in Dundee. The 3 and 4year olds were so excited to learn about bees, honeybees and beekeeping. They loved tasting the delicious honey and going home with their new bee friendship bracelets!

Jessie Porter Nursery Children & New Bee Friendship Bracelets

Lastly, we were welcomed back to Alexandra Parade Primary School in Glasgow as part of National Honey Week. Over 200 pupils from Primaries 2, 4 and 5 were keen to learn how honey is made and sample a variety of honey from across the globe. Their new bug hotel looked great and it was thumbs up from everyone for the ‘well tasty honey!’

Alexandra Parade National Honey Week Thumbs Up!

November is shaping up to bee a busy month across Scotland, we can’t wait!

Community Fund – The Yard – October update

October has been a fun filled month at The Yard and as it was the Edinburgh schools holiday for two weeks we had lots of families in for family sessions.

Over the last couple of weeks, we have been busy decorating the place for Halloween and most of the play sessions have involved creating fun and spooky decorations! At our 4-9s drop in session, we decided that rather than following the traditional trends and carve pumpkins the children would paint them and cover them in glitter. There was glitter everywhere, but the pumpkins looked absolutely amazing.

Our early years session also followed the Halloween theme and all the children helped to make pumpkin soup and bread.

We finished our Halloween celebrations with all three of our Teenage Clubs dressing up for our Halloween party in the evening. There were lots of fun games including dunking for apples, eating doughnuts off the string and of course spooky Halloween dancing!

Now that Halloween is over, we are looking forward to hosting our Bonfire Night next Wednesday!

Community Fund – School Food Matters – October update

On Thursday October 5th 2017, 62 primary school children set up shop under the arches of Borough Market for the Harvest Sale to sell their fantastic autumnal produce they had grown from seed. There were plenty of pumpkins, chard, apples and pears for eager customers to buy and included a special visit from the Mayor of Southwark and BBC London news. All proceeds made on the day, £528.97, went to food waste charity FareShare which will enable them to distribute 2115 meals to vulnerable families across the capital.

Leading up to sale day, students were taught the art of growing veg from seed with gardener Chris Collins and learnt tips from Borough Market traders on how to create a successful stall. The students also had an eye-opening visit to the FareShare depot in London. One teacher from a Southwark school said:

“Working with FareShare showed children at our school the scale of the food waste problem. Many expected to see piles of rotting veg – not perfectly good food.”

Community Fund – Cilgwyn Community Group – September update

A Tragedy Averted
The Mirzo family were split up in their escape from Syria, Mohammed age 16 got lost and ended in Bulgaria where he starved in a forest, was detained, released, had his shoulder broken by fascists and reached his family in Cardiff 4 years later in Spring this year. The family run the Royal Coast Cafe, employ, pay taxes and have leave to remain in the UK. Mohammed was now 19 and did not have an automatic right to remain. He was applying for it, but at one meeting with the Home Office he was taken into detention for deportation back to Bulgaria. His mental and physical health was still very poor from his endurance feat.
Vegware paid for my ticket to go to Cardiff to help a group of school children campaign, comfort the family and challenge the authorities with a media storm. The Welsh community rose in a wave of high pressure. Everyone played a part: Media, school children, over 8000 clicktovists, MPs. The storm started days after he was detained and intensified fast. With a national media hurricane force 4 expected the next day, he was released 8 days after detention, to the tears and arms of his family. The media dropped its howl instantly and changed to a story of relief and reunion. What a whirlwind.

Community Fund – Northampton Hope Centre – September Update

Hope Tools, part of the Hope Centre charity working in Northampton, is one of the newest community projects to join the Community Fund’s list of recipients. We are a social enterprise, active since 2011, which recycles old garden tools and repairs them, making them as good as new, and then selling them on to support our work. However, the people who do the repairing are people who have experienced all kinds of issues in their lives, such as long term unemployment, homelessness, substance misuse mental health problems, and offending.

In our sheltered workshop, people work together under supervision from an experienced trainer, taking on work across the full range of what we do – stripping down the tools, replacing the handles if needed, polishing and sharpening the blades, and then painting and re-assembling them. People can also be involved in tool sales and collection of donations, and even in advertising the sales through social media. It helps improve skills and employability. In the picture you can see us selling tools to celebrate Social Saturday 2017 – the day when social enteprises tell the world about what they do!

In the last few weeks we have seen one of our longest serving trainees and casual employee, Dwayne (pictured), move on to a full time permanent job elsewhere doing a similar job to what he did for us. Dwayne came to us after being unemployed, and we helped him build his confidence and move on into better paid work that we could not offer. We are really pleased for him – he’s a great success story.

We like to think of this as a project which recycles both tools, and people.

Community Fund – Fundación Fauna de la Amazonía – September update

Greetings from Canton Mera, Pastaza Region, Ecuador, where the Fundación’s land is located, about 150 kilometres (93 miles) from the equator at the edge of the Llanganates National Park.

We were delighted to welcome two new volunteers to the land this month, Geni and Graham, who both had travelled a long way to help us carry stones, sand and rocks to continue the work on the new pathway! Wilson had joined us again, for a few days so with Pete’s help too, we managed to take the surfacing of the path a goodly distance onwards…………..

However, we did find time to show them round some of the more accessible parts of the land as well, and we also went on a short trek (or mini-canyoning adventure) up a nearby river until the ubiquitous rainstorm stopped play! Many thanks for your help and company.

On the way back down, we were able to spot, under the bridge and just before the waters of the river rose and washed them away, some Guatusa footprints and evidence of some of its more recent meals. The Guatusa (Dasyprocta fuliginosa) is a relatively common large rodent (about the size of a small dog) and we have often seen individuals crossing the road – usually in the late afternoon/early evening.

Another slightly smaller find this month was a young specimen of a Map Tree Frog (Hypsiboas geographica) unusually seen out in daytime. The youngster looks nothing like the adult form and so is often quite difficult to identify – well-spotted, Geni!

It did take our new visitors a little while to acclimatise to the night sounds……. the squeaks, croaks, chirps, night bird calls, occasional rustling sounds, which surround nearly always and which peak and trough according to the time of night, amount of cloud cover, the phase of the moon, humidity, rainfall, etc!

A few more plants were added to the edge of the pathway close to the river in order to help prevent erosion and there is some more work to be done on this yet.

Many birds, as ever, were seen and heard around and over the land- including hawks, kites, tanagers, oropendolos, pavas, the thrush-like wren, amongst others. The myriad of insects – including butterflies and grasshoppers, cicadas and katydids – continue to amaze. There is always something new to see………………