Saturday, 31 July 2010

Community Gardens – Transition King’s Lynn, Wivenhoe and Bungay

This month there are Transition Gardens in production and construction all over East Anglia. Produce is being swapped and shared, not just from garden shares and allotments, but from Transition plots in all sorts of extraordinary places. Here's our round up of some of the East's flourishing community gardens.

Transition King’s Lynn began their Edible Garden in the Walks (public park) in May 2009. They have been running regular workdays, planting and sowing days, picnics and tree pruning workshops ever since.

As part of Love Parks week last August Transition King’s Lynn staged an event that involved planting up lots more plants, including lavender donated by the Borough Council, and more vegetable and herb plants. Visitors to the bed were treated to a share in the harvest of salad leaves and French beans, and children were able to sow seeds of rocket, radish and oriental leaves in biodegradable origami pots to take away and plant at home.

Here's Viv from KL: "Some members of Transition King's Lynn set up a stall in the Walks to give away some of the produce from the bed. The feedback from this was very positive, though some people were suspicious as to why we were giving it away for free, and others simply couldn’t bring themselves to take it for free, so gave donations (gratefully received!). Other surplus produce has been donated to a local homeless charity to be used by the cooks in their day centres."

The produce from the bed is available for anyone to harvest and eat themselves. TKL is always open for more people to get involved -seeding, mulching, weeding, watering, dead-heading, harvesting etc. So do get in touch if you'd like to join in.

Transition Wivenhoe began their Station Garden this Spring and the Food Group has gained Network Rail's approval of the Station Master's House community food garden. Travellers, station staff, passers-by and garden volunteers have enjoyed crops of rocket and lettuce. Courgettes, peas, tomatoes, potatoes and winter squash are on the way. Volunteers have helped regularly at Broomgrove School veg patch, it has been lovely to suppport the children's enthusiasm for growing food.

This Friday they had a Station Garden cookout. Here's Peta of TW's very active Food Group: "The overwhelming verdict of the station house garden marrow curry, cooked up by Kaushali yesterday was "delicious!". This has been a much watched and commented on vegetable over the weeks as walkers, cyclists, commuters, garden helpers and station staff have witnessed the little courgette turn into a fine marrow. Even Wendy the station cat seemed to have an opinion, though perhaps a slightly dim one as she has had to shift her sun bathing spot as the monster plants have slowly taken over her space. Watch out as the winter squash are next to surprise and delight... along with the fantastic sunflowers of course. Over 40 bowls of veggie curry and handmade rolls were dished up to surprised passers by, a few commuters who made the time to stop and some Station Pub regulars, along with food group activists who set up the stall outside the entrance to platform 1.

In Bungay this summer we've been engaged in laying the foundation work of our Library Courtyard Garden (you can follow our Community Garden blog, brick by recycled brick!). Yesterday we shovelled 5 tons of top-soil into the beds ready for planting up our fruit trees (cherry and apple and pear) in our permanent bed and seasonal flowers, vegetables and herbs in our seasonal round bed. We’ve also got a wormery, rainbutts and compost bin, so our “Living Library”, as well as providing an outdoor meeting place and a quiet spot in turbulent times, will serve as a showcase for the ecological principles behind Transition. Designed by a working party formed after our Permaculture course (taught by Graham Burnett of Southend-in-Transition) in January it will be a living demonstration of everything from carbon reduction to water conservation, medicine plants to the restoration of the honeybee. We’re hoping to have a grand opening for everyone who has been so far involved in the project (about 100 people) in September.

Transitioners hard at work in King's Lynn Edible Garden; making banners under a Walks tree; planting the first potato at Wivenhoe's Station Garden; rocket to go; Sustainable Bungay workparty at the Library Courtyard.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

REPORT - Transition Suffolk and the Pattern Language

Last Monday 8 Suffolk Transition initatives and 1 Norfolk (Diss) came together to discuss how to share resources and skills and to feedback ideas from the recent Transition Conference in Devon. Charlotte Du Cann from Sustainable Bungay reports:

I felt the meeting was significant. Many of the initiatives felt “on their own” and having already engaged in awareness-raising were looking for a new direction. Where do we go from here? There was a sense of urgency and a feeling we needed to relate to our communities and each other in a different way. I was struck as we drove through the golden barley fields towards Stowmarket and Linda and Josiah were exchanging childhood stories of fishing in farmer’s ponds (in Peasenhall and Thelnetham) that everyone in the room had the territory of Suffolk in common. We knew each others’ market towns and villages; the roads that connected them, the rivers and oak trees.These connections were to give this meeting a sense of reality and companionship that more civic“workshop” type gatherings do not have.

The meeting was held in a farm outhouse and took a very simple direct form. 22 of us sat in a circle for three hours with a short ten-minute break in the middle for very welcome cheese and beer kindly provided by our hosts, Glenn and Jeannie from Transition Debenham. The talk moved effortlessly from one speaker to the next and we covered a lot of ground.

After giving feedback about the workshops five of us attended (Social Enterpreneurship, Co-ops, Food Mapping, Communities, councils and carbon) and the influential Stoneleigh talk, Making Sense of the Financial Crisis in the Era of Peak Oil, we explored the new concept of Pattern Language which is set to replace the former organising structure of the 12 Transition Steps. The 63 Patterns form an interconnecting web of principles and activities that define a Transition initiative. We then discussed ways in which we could weave together our different experiences and projects, our Patterns, in order to provide a strong network and backing for each other.

In between our discussions, which ranged from biodiversity to “the Big Society” (we decided that Transition and Politics, the sixth level of Patterns, would be for another time) , we told stories about our initiatives. Some have become divided between haves and have-nots, some have been slowly gaining acceptance in the community, others that were successful last year with climate change and Copenhagen on the agenda but were now experiencing a lack of interest. Some of us felt overwhelmed when thinking of the future in large terms (“130,000 mouths to feed” as Steve Marsden said from Transition Ipswich), others felt by focusing on the small scale, on immediate and do-able working projects, such as garden shares, this provided a strong base for larger and more ambitious schemes.

Here were some of the projects/patterns that arose as examples during the discussion;

· Community Renewable Energy Companies 5.4 John talked about Transition Ipswich’s communty owned wind turbine which will help fund other local community projects.
· Food Initiatives and CSAs 3.10 and 5.9 Josiah talked about Bungay Community Bees and the Sustainable Bungay Pig Club.
· Arts and Creativity 2.8 and The Great Reskilling 3.11 Linda talked about Transition Halesworth’s Upscaling Bag project.

Dale from Transition Debenham explained how a sewing bag project could then expand into clothes making. Garden shares could expand into CSAs. By doing things together people could think as a community. For me that was the key shift. Transition provides a way to move out of a culture of individualism towards collective action. To open the door for people to work together in a new and meaningful way, to give heart and value to the ordinary things we can achieve.

How to proceed? Where should we go next? The key word of the Conference was urgency. It was clear that times of radical change were coming and that they would be felt in the financial sector first. People in Transition who had become personally resilient and understood the process of social change were in a position to provide coherent structures for communities - projects that offered solutions to the difficulties of an energy-poor future - as well as opportunities for self-government. Stoneleigh urged that Transition had a vital role in showing people there were other ways of doing things. This was the predominant mood of the meeting. In spite of individuals feeling their initiatives were not as up and running as they would like, as a collective, as a crew, we were coherent and committed. The buoyancy and sense of purpose was similar to that of the 2010 Conference in June. This was it. This was the time.

As the meeting came to a close we decided to meet again in September, to keep communications open and to share our resources. We agreed that Suffolk initiatives would begin to collate and “swap” patterns. I suggested the Transition East blog ( could be a holding station/sorting house for everyone’s stories and pictures and provide material for a possible Transition Suffolk newsletter. A Transition Network on-line directory for the Patterns is meanwhile underway. (P.S. Running Successful Meetings is Pattern 2.4 and Forming Networks of Transition Initiatives 4.2)

The 2010 Conference Booklet that includes the Pattern Language is available as a pdf from A short precis of the 63 patterns will be posted shortly under Pattern Language (left hand sidebar)

Making patterns: first meeting of Transition Suffolk; barley field; Sustainable Bungay joining forces with the local Cycle Strategy; Transition Halesworth reskilling at the Library; The Bro-Dyfi Community Wind Turbine project that provided the inspiration for Transition Ipswich; wholefood co-op food pattern

Monday, 5 July 2010

Transition Suffolk - Meeting about 2010 Conference - Monday 12 July

There will be a meeting of Transition groups in Suffolk to exchange information and feedback from the 2010 Transition Network conference. David Price (Greener Fram) and Jeannie and Glenn (Transition Debenham) are hosting an evening for anyone who is interested in and around East Suffolk.

There will also be a discussion about local support between Transition groups. This will be an opportunity to see how our groups can work together to spread the load, as well as find out more about the bigger picture of Transition. All welcome.

The evening will be at Jeannie and Glenn's at 7:30.

Hill Farm
IP14 6HA

For further information please contact David Price Email:

Glenn (Transition Debenham) and David (Greener Fram) in conference during the Big Group Process, Day 2.

Norwich: Introduction to Permaculture Gardening Workshop - 10 July

Come and find out what Permaculture Gardening is all about. These informal workshops will cover the 12 Permaculture Design Principles, how to apply these in your own gardens to create edible, biodiverse and beautiful spaces, including using ponds, discovering Mulch (and why mulching matters!), companion planting, herb spirals, keyhole beds and composting. Also a session on Forest Gardening, layering and Perennial crops. and Permaculture gardeners question time!

The introductory workshop will be held at the Grow Your Own shed at Bluebell Allotments (South), from 10-4 on Saturday 10th July. Please bring something to share for lunch, hot drinks provided. £10 donation to cover costs. 10-12 participants. (Brenna Powys/Food & Farming)

To book a place please contact Mahesh Pant at tel:01603 455868