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

Seedy Saturdays Have Germinated!

It’s been some time since the Craven Arms Community Garden last held a Seedy Saturday stall at the Craven Arms Farmers Market. But we’re back!

On Saturday 6th June the Seedy Saturday stall was manned by CACG members:

  • Liz Wynn
  • Sophie Francis
  • Lesley James

Our thanks to the volunteers who ran the stall, those members who contributed plants, and special thanks to Tony and Vicky Mantle who supplied chutney and rhubarb crumbles.

The photograph below shows Liz Wynn, Chair of the Craven Arms Community Garden Group, at the stall along with some of the selection of plants and produce of offer.

Liz Wynn and the Seedy Saturday Stall Saturday 6th June 2015

Liz Wynn and the Seedy Saturday Stall Saturday 6th June 2015

The next Seedy Saturday will be held at the Farmers Market on Saturday 4th July when we hope to offer more plants and produce.

We look forward to meeting existing members and also anyone interested in plants and organic produce at these regular events. If you are interested in becoming a member of the Craven Arms Community Garden this is an ideal time to come along to meet existing members and take a guided tour of the Community Garden and available plots.

Tidy Day – 6th June 2015

At the Tidy Day on Saturday 6th June 2015 members volunteered to help with the maintenance of the communal areas of the Community Garden. The tasks typically include mowing the grass, strimming edges and weeding. Sometimes it can feel like there’s not much to show for the effort!

However, on other occasions there is a need to carry out repairs and the benefits of the hard work can be seen immediately. So now that the construction of the polytunnel is nearing completion, attention was turned to the path on the eastern side of the polytunnel which was in poor condition.

The photograph below shows the path after repairs were carried by Community Garden members – many thanks to everyone for such a great job which really improves the area.

The Polytunnel and Repaired Path

The Polytunnel and Repaired Path

The Tidy Days are held on the first Saturday of the month to coincide with the regular Craven Arms Farmers Market events and members are reminded that they are obliged under the terms of the Ground Rules for Plot Holders to contribute time and effort to these monthly Tidy Days.

Draping the Polytunnel Cover

Yesterday members of the Craven Arms Community Garden draped the polythene cover over the framework of the new polytunnel – another major milestone in the polytunnel construction.

The photograph below shows the cover at the first stage of fixing. It appears quite loose at this stage and the next step is to finalise the position of the cover and then tension and fix with wooden battens.

CACG Polytunnel Cover Draped 5th June 2015

CACG Polytunnel Cover Draped 5th June 2015

Once again our thanks to Ludlow Food Festival whose generosity has made all this possible.

Our gratitude also to the “polytunnel drapers” for their hard work yesterday in baking sunshine (we experienced the hottest day of the year so far):

  • Liz Wynn
  • Tony Mantle
  • John Wood

The photograph below shows the cover under tension during the fixing operation.

Tensioning and Fixing the CACG Polytunnel Cover

Tensioning and Fixing the CACG Polytunnel Cover

There are now just a few outstanding tasks before we have completed the polytunnel project:

  • some cosmetic trimming of the cover
  • re-positioning of an internal raised bed
  • fitting the irrigation system and linking to the rainwater storage tanks and solar pump
  • widening of the adjacent pathway

Soon our thoughts will be turning to a topping-out ceremony.

Tidy Day – June 2015

Members are reminded that the first Saturday of each month from February through October or November is Craven Arms Community Garden Tidy Day and these coincide with the Farmers Market held at the Discovery Centre.

The June 2015 Tidy Day is therefore Saturday 6th June.

The original plan for the tasks included mowing the grassed areas and strimming the edges of the micro-allotment plots. Thanks to the work carried on Thursday 4th June by the West Mercia Community Payback team these tasks have been completed.

That will allow us to focus on:

  • weeding the edges of the communal pathways
  • weeding the communal raised beds
  • any general tidying up that is required

Unfortunately I am not able to attend the Tidy Day On Saturday and so I have contributed several hours this week to the communal maintenance need by turning the compost beds and closing off one bed to prevent further addition of any compostable materials. I’ve also placed laminated warning signs on the particular bed requesting that nothing further is added to the bed.

Please also note that some members of the Community Garden are manning a “Seedy Saturday” stall at the Farmers Market selling plants and produce and so it is even more important that additional members come along to help with the routine maintenance of the communal areas of the Community Garden.

We hope to see many, if not all, members on Saturday 6th June from 10:00 when your valuable contribution to the maintenance of the communal areas of the Community Garden will be greatly appreciated.

In conclusion, the Tidy Day is also an opportunity for members to meet and get to know each other and as a group of members we take a mid-morning break and enjoy some refreshment together provided by the Discovery Centre. There is plenty to see in the Community Garden at the moment in addition to the produce growing in many plots – for example the new polytunnel has been erected and is nearing completion.

Polytunnel – First Hoop

Yesterday, Craven Arms Community Garden member John Wood and I installed the first hoop of the new polytunnel which has been obtained through the generosity of the Ludlow Food Festival.

The photograph below taken from the South and looking North shows this first hoop in place at the northen end of the 25′ by 12′ polytunnel along with the internal raised beds in the foreground.

CACG Polytunnel First Hoop 19th May 2015

CACG Polytunnel First Hoop 19th May 2015

Whilst it might not seem like a big deal I would like to remind members of the Community Garden that a lot of hard work went into the preparation necessary to reach this major milestone.

So that’s one down, five to go – or should that be one up, five to go.

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.

New Shed Installed

As part of the ongoing work to enhance and improve the Community Garden at Craven Arms we have taken delivery of a new 6′ by 6′ secure wooden shed from local supplier Mike Pryce of Craven Timber Products. It is the policy of CACG wherever possible to buy from local businesses.

The shed was delivered and installed on Monday 11th May and can be seen below:

New Shed at Craven Arms Community Garden

New Shed at Craven Arms Community Garden

The shed will allow us to store CACG tools and equipment close to the micro-allotment plots.

Our grateful thanks to the Ludlow Food Festival for their generosity in funding this purchase for the Craven Arms Community Garden.

Tidy Day – May 2015

Members are reminded that the first Saturday of each month from February through October or November is Craven Arms Community Garden Tidy Day and these coincide with the Farmers Market held at the Discovery Centre.

The May 2015 Tidy Day is therefore Saturday 2nd May when we intend to tackle the following tasks in the communal areas:

  • grass-cutting
  • weeding
  • and general tidying up

Some plot-holders have allowed the boundary areas surrounding their plots to become badly overgrown with weeds and these need to be cleared to prevent adverse effects on others’ plots.

We hope to see many, if not all, members on Saturday 2nd May from 10:00 when your valuable contribution to the maintenance of the communal areas of the Community Garden will be greatly appreciated.

The Tidy Day is also an opportunity for members to meet and get to know each other and as a group of members we take a mid-morning break and enjoy some refreshment together provided by the Discovery Centre. Plot holders can often be heard sharing gardening tips and advice over coffee or hot chocolate.

Solar Powered Water Pumping

An order has been placed for a Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump which will facilitate the automatic watering of plants within the soon to be installed poly-tunnel.

The photograph below is taken from the supplier’s brochure and illustrates the equipment that will be installed.

Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump

Draper Solar Powered Water Butt Pump

The solar panel will be located on the existing roof of the new IBC water storage area and the pump will be located downstream from the IBCs so that water feeds the poly-tunnel as required through an irrigation system.

Our grateful thanks to the Ludlow Food Festival for their generosity in funding this purchase within the project to install a new poly-tunnel to supplement the existing micro-allotment capacity of the Craven Arms Community Garden.

Grateful thanks also to Grow Cook Learn and the team at the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre for their administrative support.