Family Fun Day – Sunday 14th June

SHDC Family Fun Day Sunday 14th June 2015The Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre are holding a Family Fun Day and Cycle Sunday on 14th June 2015 to celebrate National Bike Week.

At the Craven Arms Community Garden we are supporting this event with a number of activities including:

A Children’s Gardening Quiz

For the under 12’s, ten questions based on the Community Garden, with a Prize for the winner!

Making Comfrey Tea

Learn how to turn Comfrey into a powerful and natural liquid fertiliser feed.

Starts at 11:30

A Demonstration of Composting Methods

The different approaches and methods of composting.

Starts at 12:00

Watering Techniques to Conserve Water

Learn a variety of techniques for careful watering to conserve this vital resource for gardeners.

Starts at 13:00

Guided Tours of the Community Garden

Learn about the Community Garden and recent developments including how we are becoming sustainable in our rainwater collection and composting and also visit the new polytunnel which extends the growing season.

Tours will start at 11:00, 12:00, 13:00, 14:00 and 15:00 and last about 20 minutes.

Booking not required, just turn up.

We hope to see many members, friends and families.
National Bike Week 2015

Solar-Powered Rainwater Pumping

Thanks to the generosity of Ludlow Food Festival the Craven Arms Community Garden are the proud owners of a Solar Powered Submersible Butt pump as described in a previous post.

Yesterday, the sunniest day of the year so far, CACG members John Wood and Sean Scannell commissioned the pump to transfer valuable rainwater from an existing IBC water storage container to the three new IBCs.

There were three objectives:

  • to commission the submersible water butt pump
  • to transfer water from a full water storage container to empty new containers
  • to learn how long a full battery charge will last

Historically water storage has been an issue at the Community Garden and so it is vital that we fill all the new IBC water storage containers with rainwater whilst we have rain and in advance of any potential summer drought.

The slightly Heath-Robinson set-up shown below was very effective in meeting the objectives we set and supporting the required learning.

Solar Powered Water Pumping at Craven Arms Community Garden

Solar Powered Water Pumping at Craven Arms Community Garden

The unit starts with a full charge from the mains and this is supplemented by the solar power trickle charge. We learned several important things:

  • the pump can successfully transfer water from this existing container to the new containers
  • a good flow rate can be achieved
  • the battery charge depletes in about an hour even in strong sunshine

There is an important monitoring task within this operation which is to ensure that the submersible pump is always submerged and the photograph below shows John Wood monitoring and adjusting the flow rate out of the IBC to feed the pump.

Adjusting Flow Rate for the Submersible Pump

Adjusting Flow Rate for the Submersible Pump

The photograph below shows more detail of the submersible pump in action.

The Submersible Pump in Action

The Submersible Pump in Action

We estimated that over the course of an hour we transferred about 200 litres of water which, crucially, meant that the tank we were pumping out of had capacity to collect further rainwater.

In the longer term the pump will be used to supply irrigation within the new polytunnel from the adjacent rainwater storage tanks. However, the facility to use the pump to transfer water from one set of storage containers to another is a valuable sustainability factor that enables us to maximise the collection of rainwater and to help ensure that the Community Garden does not suffer during any summer drought.

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 4

Regular readers will know that thanks to the generosity of the Ludlow Food Festival who provided funding, members have recently been working hard to install new rainwater catchment and water storage tanks.

Additional and recycled blocks have been installed and today the third of three IBCs (intemediate bulk containers) was placed into final position under the roof over the former dry compost areas.

Three New IBCs Installed

Three New IBCs Installed

Rainwater is already being collected into the first of these IBCs which are piped so that as the first IBC becomes full the rainwater then cascades into the second IBC. The second IBC then cascades into the third until 3000 litres of rainwater have been collected, at which time the rainwater collection pipework can be swiveled to fill the pre-existing IBCs which can be seen on the left in the photograph above.

The tasks remaining within this rainwater catchment and storage project include:

  • connecting the outlet pipework of the IBCs
  • routing water from the IBCs to the poly-tunnel once it has been constructed
  • installation of a solar powered water pump
Newly Installed IBCs Waiting for Rain

Newly Installed IBCs Waiting for Rain

All we need now is some rain! Are those grey clouds above?

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 3

Members took delivery of four IBC (intermediate bulk container) units on 21st April as part of the project to install additional rainwater catchment and water storage for the Craven Arms Community Garden.

IBC Delivery 21st April 2015

IBC Delivery 21st April 2015

Although these IBC are bulky – measuring 1m by 1m by 1m – they are relatively light when empty being made from food grade plastic and so were readily carried into place.

However, when an individual container is full of rainwater it will contain a cubic metre of water which is 1000 litres. One cubic metre of water weighs one metric tonne – hence the careful preparation of the base for these water storage tanks described in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series of posts.

Two IBCs Positioned for Rainwater Catchment

Two IBCs Positioned for Rainwater Catchment

So far two of the three IBCs for this area have been installed pending pipework for rainwater catchment and feeding to the poly-tunnel which will be installed close by.

Installed IBCs in Readiness for Rainwater Catchment

Installed IBCs in Readiness for Rainwater Catchment

The fourth IBC will be located on the South side of the Community Garden alongside an existing IBC.

This project to install additional rainwater catchment and water storage has been possible thanks to the generosity of Ludlow Food Festival who have provided funds for this and the purchase and installation of a poly-tunnel and secure shed.

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 2

Early in April preparations started for the installation of additional rainwater catchment water storage tanks in readiness for the purchase of a poly-tunnel (size) thanks to funding from Ludlow Food Festival.

CACG member John Wood brought his logistics experience to the military precision of his planning for the series of dominoes required to fall in sequence to enable the very tight timetable to be met.

Members started by moving the existing dry compost into the South-West corner of the Community Garden so that the area under the existing roof could receive three new 1000 litre IBC (intermediate bulk containers). At the same time some new compost areas were created.

New Uncovered Compost Areas April 2015

New Uncovered Compost Areas April 2015

The majority of the wood from the former dry compost area has been reused to create these new compost areas that ought to provide better compost through being open to the elements. The paving slabs and blocks were then used to provide a level base for the three new water storage containers to be located under the existing roof so that rainwater can be collected.

Preparing the Base for Water Storage Containers 18th April 2015

Preparing the Base for the New Water Storage Containers

Supporting blocks have been doubled up in order to ensure an adequate head of water to feed a pump that will in turn irrigate the poly-tunnel.

Preparing the Base for New Water Storage Tanks 18th April 2015

Preparing the Base for New Water Storage Tanks

The poly-tunnel will be installed adjacent to the new water storage tanks and at the northern end – the right in this picture.

Further news on progress can be found in Part 3 of this series of posts.

Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 1

Thanks to the generosity of the Ludlow Food Festival who have provided funding for additional rainwater catchment facilities, members have been busy during April taking delivery of materials and preparing a solid base for additional water storage containers.

Delivery of Blocks and Paving Slabs to Craven Arms Community Garden

Delivery of Blocks and Paving Slabs to Craven Arms Community Garden

Colin kindly gave permission for the delivery vehicle to gain access via the private road adjoining Newton so that paving slabs and blocks could be delivered onto the North perimeter of the Community Garden.

Blocks and Paving Slabs Delivered to Craven Arms Community Garden

Blocks and Paving Slabs Delivered to Craven Arms Community Garden

Once delivered, all that was required was to move the blocks and paving slabs close to their final position in the former dry compost area.

Slabs and Blocks for Base for Water Storage

Slabs and Blocks for Base for Water Storage

The next stage in the preparation for the installation of additional water storage containers was to position and level the paving slabs and install the support blocks – described in the next post: Additional Rainwater Catchment – Part 2.