Edible Garden in Cooper Park

Community planting day 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks to all those who helped out at the planting day. We had a great time and now there will be fruit trees and herbs for years to come for everyone. Why not make a harvest of herbs as you pass through the park? Ultra low food miles, no plastic wrapping to go to landfill and as fresh as a daisy. What could be better?

Learn Permaculture Design in Moray!

Local expert Ludwig Appeltans of Earthways and guests will be teaching a full Permaculture Design Certificate (PDC) over six weekends between April and August this year.

The course will be set in the beautiful grounds of Newbold House, Forres, where you’ll carry out a group design as well as benefit from teaching on a huge range of topics. You’ll come out with so many great ideas for designing your garden, allotment, community project or anything in life! And it ends with a Permaculture Festival…887109158_183cf7959d_o

Here at REAP we’re a big fan of Permaculture – based on sound ethics and learning from nature, you can design and implement sustainable and productive environments that yield you lots and for the minimum amount of work. Everyone’s a winner!

 

It looks like great value; full information can be found on the website here and the Facebook page is here.

I (Barney Thompson, REAP staff) learnt so much fascinating stuff and really developed my design skills (and the way I look at the world) on my PDC. I would wholeheartedly recommend studying one to anyone and also would certainly recommend Ludwig as a great person to take you on the journey.

Forgard2-003640px-Permaculture_chicken

[Images courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/hardworkinghippy, Graham Burnett and Bill Mollison]

Spring Planting in Elgin

Community Garden invite

 

No experience required – we’ll be on hand to help and can provide tools and gloves. If you’ve got green fingers come along too and share your expertise. We’d love to see you there – just let us know you’re coming so we’ve got enough cups of tea and tools.

“The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

 

How to Grow Your Own Food

All are welcome along to a talk on How to Grow Your Own Food – FREE in February. The talk will be hosted by Keith Library on 10th February from 3-4pm and delivered by our Dorothy, and on 18th February from 7-8pm in Cullen library by Ann.

For more information, contact Keith Library on 01542 882223 or Cullen library on 01542 841140. We’d love to see you there.

Barney’s Blog 10 – School orchards galore

They say all good things come in threes. Or is that bad things? Or buses? Well, since the topic in question is my blog – with three in a couple of days, no less – then surely it is the former…well, the many thousands of people sending emails missing their fix and begging for their resumption can’t be wrong! In the previous two I have gone back in time to the balmy days of British Summer Time. However, in this one we’re firmly rooted in November, though strangely in weather more reminiscent of summer.

Team Greenwards

Team Greenwards

Sunglasses and shirtsleeves made an appearance during the glorious couple of days spent last week at Greenwards Primary, Bishopmill Primary and Elgin Academy. Dorothy, Lynne and I were joined by orchardier John Hancox, who had come up the A9 trunk road with a car jam-packed full of young fruit trees and shrubs, stakes, ties, guards, as well as an apple juice press and a selection of his apples. And a rather splendid spade I cast envious glances at, plus a mallet, for banging those stakes in.

Elgin Academy kindly provided the large array of spades and forks; plenty were needed as the kids were out in force to help us. There was no way we could have done without their help, with ten trees plus soft fruit shrubs to get in in each session!

John and the gang

John and the Greenwards gang

Miss Bailey’s eco-schools group at Greenwards were first up on the Monday, a lovely bunch of little ‘uns, thirty or so of them, along with a crack team of student reporters. Lynne got them warmed up in her magic way and then they split into groups of three. We laid out the trees in rows so the lawn mower can navigate easily through to cut the grass. And we positioned them a good four metres apart – remember, although they are wee little things now they’ll grow a lot bigger and we don’t want two trees getting tangled or shading each other. Did you know – the final height that a fruit tree will grow to depends on the type of standard rootstock that it has been grafted on to? This will control the vigour of the tree, as well as potentially improving disease resistance.

The apple trees are in place!

The apple trees are in place!

tree planting (20)

Nice work!

And so a rather nice, if we say so ourselves, fledgling orchard appeared right near the entrance, with a variety of apple trees suited to the Moray climate, such as Katy, Laxton’s Fortune and, yes, Beauty of Moray. The odd plum and pear tree provided a bit of variety, as did some young gooseberry, blackcurrant, redcurrant, tayberry and raspberry shrubs planted close to the trees to give them a bit of company.

The following morning we were at Bishopmill and an even bigger group of cute wee ones, led by Mr Stewart and Mr Stuart. We sited our orchard on a slope to the side of the school for the parents to see and near to their biodiverse play area, again with a selection of apples and other top fruit, plus a row of soft fruit bushes, next to the path.

A pause as the worm hunt intensifies

A pause as the Bishopmill worm hunt intensifies

tree planting (14)

Applying the finishing touches (the camera does actually lie sometimes -it is actually vertical, honest)

Digging here was tricky near the bottom of the slope, where the soil was very stony, especially for wee ones, but they did a sterling job, whilst being careful to handle the tools safely. We were digging out a square about 80cm wide (half that size for the soft fruit), first putting the turves to one side, then digging further down and removing the soil to about a spade’s depth. Then we put the turves in the hole upside down; ‘why?’ you ask. Because the soil near the surface and the grass is rich with nutrients but we don’t want the grass to grow. Then we position the stake and the tree, before backfilling the hole with the remaining soil.

Bishopmill posse - look at the cameras!

Bishopmill posse – look at the cameras!

The final shebang was after lunch, next door at Elgin Academy, where Mrs. Campbell’s class took to the field. Again we were on a slope, adding to the existing fledgling orchard which is part of their brilliant food garden, and facing stony soil in places. The teenagers did well and their stakes were well done, put in with some gusto. It’s important to have a stake in place for the early years of a tree, in order to support the wee thing against the wind and dreich weather. When we put a stake in, it’s not in the middle of the hole as that’s for the tree but close enough so that they can be tied loosely together with the special ties. And we must put a guard around the base of the tree to stop rabbits, deer and other pesky furry critters from munching the bark, otherwise it’s game over for the tree…

Up on the slope at the Academy

Up on the slope at the Academy

And did you know (I didn’t until John explained) that research has shown a square hole is better than a round hole? This is because the roots find it easier to grow into the corners of the un-dug (more compacted) soil.  There was just enough left in the Academy’s water butt to ensure the trees started their new life with a good drink. The trees should start producing fruit in the next couple of years, so not too long to wait.

Lynne takes a breather to tell tales of her fishing trip

Lynne takes a breather to recount her fishing trip

As a small bonus for all the pupils, they got to have a go at using John’s stylish vintage apple press to get some juice; enough for a wee dram for everyone – so much better than your carton stuff!

It was fantastic to see all the pupils engaged in outdoors learning and planting trees for many in the future to enjoy and get healthy free food, and all on the school doorstep. Big thanks to you all – and your teachers – for your hard work and enthusiasm. And thank John!

Good things do come in threes!

Good things do come in threes!

Barney’s Blog 9 – Permaculture a success again

Gooooood morning Moray!

I trust November finds you well. As the days draw right in, this can be a fine time to go inwards to reflect and contemplate. But of course also make sure to get outside to see the fantastic autumn colours before all the leaves fall. I really enjoy being out gardening at this time of year, taking in the precious daylight and feeling the garden and nature slow down.

However, today I’ll tell you a wee bittie about a fine classroom experience I had back in October, thanks to the inimitable Jonny Barton.

SAM_1099Jonny is a Permaculture Diploma tutor from just over the border near Huntly and he has headed to Elgin twice in recent months to deliver an Introduction to Permaculture day workshop for us. On the second one I was lucky enough to help hold the session and soak up his knowledge and enthusiasm. I completed a Permaculture Design Certificate back in 2012 and this was a perfect refresher for me, learning from a highly qualified and experienced tutor.

What is permaculture? is a common question. I’m not going to attempt to properly answer that question in this short blog! Perhaps, I could just say that it is short for permanent agriculture or permanent culture. It combines an ethical framework and an understanding of how nature works with a design process; and the whole point is to provide practical solutions to support the creation of sustainable, healthy and agriculturally productive settlements. I hope we all agree that this has got be a good thing!

Jonny went through the ethics (Earth Care, People Care, Fair Share) and the various nifty principles inspired by nature that underpin it all. A permaculture approach can be helpful with many aspects of life. It’s not just about, for example, growing ‘low effort’ perennial crops or designing your garden better; it could be how you invest your money, how you build or retrofit your house, your approaches to medicine, health and education, how your business is set up etcetera etcetera…SAM_1102

Questions and issues relevant to each participant were looked at and for the last bit we headed out to the Gardenshare site to see some permaculture in action and get our hands dirty.

There is the splendidly marvellous UK Permaculture Association, which has a wealth of information at www.permaculture.org.uk.

But what you probably need at this point is a bit of Jonny in person to really inspire you and get you started down this road – that millions round the world are now travelling on, with a smile on their faces.

And good news…Jonny will be back by popular request, early in 2016, dates to be confirmed – if you contact info@reapscotland.org.uk you can get yourself on the waiting list for a place and of course get further information. I thoroughly recommend it!