Community gardening in Laindon

As well as facilitating the Vange Hill Community Group with community cleans up and guerilla gardening on the ¾ estate in Vange, Basildon & Southend Housing Action have also been involved for a number of years in working with residents on the Nursery Gardens estate in Laindon to maintain a community garden. These images were taken after the first major planting and maintenance session of the spring last weekend.

As well as flowers to brighten up the estate, this particular garden has a more serious vegetable growing side to it as well. On an estate where some residents experience issues with food poverty, a community garden dedicated to food production does make a positive difference. It’s these kind of localised vegetable growing beds that we eventually want to see springing up across the ¾ estate in Vange. We’re showing the image above to prove that it can be done on an informal basis.

It can also be done on a more formal setting as this Incredible Edible supported community plot on Mill Green near the shops on the Chalvedon estate in Basildon shows…
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FHeartofPitsea%2Fposts%2F1692815327468695&width=500

The point is that with increasing food poverty and the uncertainty over food supply that could result from Brexit, there is a need for community gardens that provide fresh food. Not only that, maintaining a garden like this is a good way of building solidarity and neighbourhood resilience.

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A better future for the ¾ estate in Vange

A few posts back we wrote about our experience on the Creating A Positive Revolution In Southend course and how we used that to come up with some ideas for improving life on the ¾ estate in Vange: A different way of thinking about community activism. That plan is now available as a downloadable PDF from here.

Bear in mind that the plan is an aspiration and the contents are a guide as to how that aspiration can be realised. As such, it’s not written in stone and can and most likely will change as we progress and learn from our experiences, successes and mistakes!

Building neighbourhood solidarity and resilience

This is the keynote article from the latest print edition of The Estuary Alternative.

With all of the grassroots community projects we promote and do our level best to support, there’s one key fundamental and that’s generating a sense of neighbourhood solidarity. We’re not talking about an exclusive sense of solidarity centred on one particular group – we’re talking about the kind of solidarity that respects the variety of people that go to make up a neighbourhood.

The kind of solidarity which recognises that while people can be very different from each other, they can all play a role in making a neighbourhood a better place to live once they recognise that’s what they want to achieve. The kind of solidarity that our rulers and their mates in the right wing media hate because it means people have seen beyond their games of divide and rule and encouraging us all to be nothing more than selfish, atomised, uncaring producers and consumers. It’s the kind of solidarity we’ll need in an increasingly uncertain future as we face a Brexit where no one in power in either the UK or the rest of the EU can explain to us mere plebs what its consequences are. In addition to this, there are also the ever growing risks posed by climate change to consider…

These will impact on food security – the first manifestations of which will be steep price rises. Extreme manifestations could well be shortages of certain foods… This is the kind of scenario where life in an atomised neighbourhood where no one knows or trusts their neighbours could start to get uncomfortable to say the least. The kind of scenario where neighbourhood resilience cannot happen because everyone is fearful of everyone else. The kind of scenario where the authorities can control us because we fear and can’t trust each other. Basically, a nightmare scenario that no caring human wants…

Which is why we support any community project that brings people together, regardless of their backgrounds. At the end of the day, whoever we are and wherever we’re from, everyone wants to live in a neighbourhood where people look out for and care for each other. A neighbourhood that in an age of failing public services can provide networks of support for its more vulnerable members. A neighbourhood that’s taking steps to take control of its food supply with community gardens/allotments, food buying groups and the like. A neighbourhood that once it gains a degree of self confidence about looking after itself, will start to ask some searching questions about power, who exercises it and how it has to be brought right down to the grassroots.

So, while The Estuary Alternative may on the surface seem to be a ‘fluffy’ project, what we’re about is building the new world in the shell of the crumbling one we have to endure at the moment. The key to success in that project is building neighbourhood solidarity and resilience so we can not only survive the challenges of the dysfunctional world we currently live in but we can also start to build the saner, juster and more sustainable one we desire.

Billericay Community Garden Open Day

Saturday 20th January – 9.30am – 2.30pm.
Billericay Community Garden, Church View, CM12 9LD Billericay, Essex

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/146656849445870/

Hosted by Billericay Community Garden: https://www.facebook.com/billericaycommunitygarden/

A chance to meet up with our volunteers, have a guided tour around the garden, stay and enjoy, even join in with the day’s jobs to do list – look forward to seeing some old and new faces. All welcome, please call in and say hi, we can also offer a brew coffee or tea:)

If you’re involved in setting up a community garden, we strongly recommend that you get along to this event to learn from the experience of the Billericay Community Garden team in getting as far as they have and the lessons they have learned along the way. We were involved in a few of the working sessions in the early days back in 2014/15 and can testify that they have created something quite amazing from the overgrown, rubbish strewn patch of land they started out with…

Thinking about where our food comes from

These are two useful and thought provoking pieces looking at and making us ask questions about where our food comes from, how it’s produced and what impact its production and distribution has on our environment. Basically, they both argue that we cannot carry on as we have been and that we have to take more collective and personal responsibility for producing our food. In their own different ways, these writings feed into our thinking about the need to encourage neighbourhood resilience in what is becoming an ever more uncertain world.

Local Food: On Personal Responsibilityhttps://permaculturenews.org/2017/03/10/local-food-personal-responsibility/

Who Will Feed Us? The Industrial Food Chain vs the Peasant Food Webhttp://etcgroup.org/content/who-will-feed-us-industrial-food-chain-vs-peasant-food-web

October ’17 Repair Cafe @ Shoebury Hub

This is the kind of practical, grassroots activity making a positive difference from skill sharing to sustainability through giving various items a longer use life that we love to promote…

After a hiatus due to a home move we were eager to get back into Repairing and for Octobers repair Cafe we were pleased to connect with the Malcolm, Brian and Chris of My Town Southend – https://www.mytownsouthend.com/ – @ the Shoebury hub who kindly offered, at stupendously short notice, to host the repair cafe in the wonderful community space they have created in what was originally the Unitarian Evangelical church. My Town Southend is all about promoting community cohesion, resilience and well being as opposed to extractive activities draining people and capital from the town. Needless to say we definitely sing from the same song sheet as them and are excited about one of their ideas to set up a Share shed at the hub which would sync in perfectly with the repair movement.

See here for the rest of the piece: https://southendrepaircafe.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/october-17-repair-cafe-shoebury-hub/

SiT Community Allotment Taster Days Sat 09/09 10-14 presented by Southend in Transition Sat 7th Oct 2017: 11:00-14:00

If you’re interested in the idea of a community allotment, neighbourhood self sufficiency and growing your own food, this event is well worth attending…

Southend in Transition Community Allotment

Southend in Transition Community Allotment
(entrance to allotments off Hamstel Road – Garon’s end – opposite fish and chips Plaice to Be)

Where you can learn how to grow food, look after your garden, take fresh produce home, meet new people over a shared meal and exchange ideas on how to help the community thrive.

Taster Days – Volunteers and public welcome

Sat 09/09 10-14
Harvest festival – with the juicy grapes making a return this year and lots of tomatoes, pumpkins and green onions gracing us we will feast on food prepared at home and on the day.

11:30 tea and short tour of the plots
12:30 lunch

Come in anytime for a cup of tea

Saun 24/09 10-14
Gardening and a bit more of citizen science – the Big Bug Hunt – spot them and record them


Other events locally:

Transition Drinks – 28/09 Thur 19:00 Olde Trout…

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