Saturday 31 March 2012

LAUNCH - part time transiton training in East Anglia

LAUNCH transition training as an evening class

We are piloting the 2 day LAUNCH transition training as an evening class at the Apricot centre in Manningtree Essex starting on April 17th 2012 (You can find full details of the coming series here).

This course is normally run on a weekend as a very intensive 9-5 course. I know after delivering one of these courses I feel pretty exhausted and I am sure most of the participants go away very happy but also exhausted, and especially if you have a job or children this weekend format can be inaccessible.

In the transition training pool we are thinking about widening access to the growing range of courses available, so running the introduction course to transition as an evening class seemed like an easy step. The course will run on Tuesday evenings 7 pm till 9.30, for 6 weeks. We will cover; the outer context for transition, peak oil and climate change, how to raise awareness and engage with different sections of society, how to run an open space meeting, the inner transition, and some inner work exercises, visioning a positive future, where transition is going in the future, how to initiate groups or if most people are in them already we explore group dynamics. And more !

The teaching techniques are interactive and creative and fun. And as a group we also learn a huge amount from each other and what we Linkare doing in our transition groups or areas. We can also build networks from this course that will support you and your group in the future.

The course is intended for people starting out in Transition but there is a huge amount of tools techniques and information in the course for those not only starting out but wanting to broaden and deepen their understanding on transition. For those further along the road a new course called Transition THRIVE is being piloted currently.

If you are interested the details are on the Apricot Centre for Sustainable Living website and Transition network website
Marina O’Connell is a part of the Transition training pool and based at the Apricot centre in Manningtree Essex.

Friday 16 March 2012

DOWNHAM MARKET: Overcoming Impossibilism - A Year Long Conference -March 16

We invite you to join a series of conversations to explore creative, locally-led solutions to the multiple global economic, social and political issues of our time and support us in identifying sustainable and creative responses.

Engaged optimism is the best frame of mind to face the global challenges of the future (Rob Hopkins)
Greater wealth has not necessarily created greater happiness. With the economy contracting, resources depleting and increasing ecological instability, where do we go from here? Resilience is that ability to recover from knocks, to make more out of what we have, and to build strength through interdependence in the community and with the environment in which we live. This conversation series is part of the ongoing work of Downham and Villages in Transition, and the wider transition network, to encourage community-led responses that build resilience.

The series was opened by The Age of Stupid producer and climate activist, Lizzie Gillatt and further speakers will include Dan Vockins, former campagin manager of 10:10 and now nef's Great Transition co-ordinator, James Meadway, senior economist at nef, Peter Melchett, policy director of The Soil Association.

Join us for our second conversation led by Chartered Environmentalist, engineer and commentator on Peak Oil Chris Jones on March 16.

We’ve grown accustomed to an ever-widening range and complexity of technological solutions. But as well as constraints on carbon emissions, we will very soon need to face up to declining production of oil, later coal and then gas. The need to replace fossil fuels is urgent. What can we do locally?

Downham Market Town Hall Friday 16th March Bar Room, 6.45 for 7.30pm start Open to all, refreshments available

Thursday 15 March 2012

Adopt a Herb with Dan Wheals – Plants for Life Sunday 18 March 3pm at Bungay Library

For the third of our monthly Plants for Life talks, walks and workshops, we welcome medical herbalist and Suffolk Coastal’s Community Environmental Action Advisor, Dan Wheals, who’ll show us practical and creative ways we can adopt one particular herb and find out all about it.

Active within the local and regional Transition movement, Dan will also be speaking about Transition herbalism, how everyone can increase well-being and resilience by growing and working with plants in a time of limited resources and energy constraints.

Do come and join us on Sunday 18th March at Bungay Library, Wharton Street at 3pm. We look forward to seeing you there. Read the write-ups of the first two vibrant plant talks: in January – Connecting with our Roots, and February – Growing Organic Herbs. Let’s keep planting seeds and talking plants!

For any and all enquiries about the Plants for Life events and the Plant Medicine bed 2012 at Bungay Library Community garden, call Mark Watson on 01502 722419 or email

Saturday 3 March 2012

Digging for Victor - Great East Anglian Beans

Norwich is geographically well placed to feed itself. But to do it, and to break our dependence on high energy inputs, would mean changes in our diet, land use and farming. Put simply: less meat, more beans!

Victor field beans, a type of fava bean, are grown widely in East Anglia for export. Aside from fertility building they make great food for livestock and people. In the UK we've lost our taste for the humble fava bean, preferring legumes like lentils and chick peas which are hard to grow here. But the rest of the world still loves them, whether as ful medames, hummus, falafel, crisp snacks or in many other dishes.

Victor beans will soon be available in Norwich. If you pop in to a Norwich FarmShare share day at the end of March or are part of the Low Carbon Cookbook team you'll be able to pick up packs free. They'll also be available to buy in selected shops.

The beans will be dried and split for ease of use, and come with cooking instructions and links to a website with recipes. And we'd really like to hear your feedback. Josiah Meldrum (East Anglia Food Link)

Contact: info@greatbritishbeans

Norwich Abundance Project: Where are all the fruit and nut trees?

Years ago there was a tradition in our society of foraging in the wild. It is a tradition we have lost. Beginning with the Enclosure of common lands - and increasingly as food production has become more and more globalised, we have become used to buying all our food from shops and supermarkets. Before the process of Enclosure became widespread, culminating in the 18th and 19th century Acts, local people had the right to forage, cultivate, cut hay, graze their animals, fish and collect timber and turf for fuel from common land. As the fields, meadows and commons were fenced off, many of the poor became dispossessed and people were forced to leave the land. Food that had previously been free became a commodity that had to be bought.

These days there is necessarily an emphasis on local and low carbon food production; but ‘free food’ remains a largely untapped source. A number of communities have started mapping their local foraging opportunities. Following suit, a few of us from the FarmShare food hub have created a map to show fruit and nut bearing trees and bushes (walnuts, sweet chestnuts, rose hips, hazel, elderflowers and berries, sloes, blackberries, damson, plums and apples; and so on). Go here to add any sources you know of on publicly accessible land (please, not private land). And let’s grow the map.

There was a flurry of activity last month when the map was launched. There have been over 1,000 views, and a few trees have been added as people have found their way to the map. People with google accounts can add to it – and for others there is an email address on the map, so information can be sent via that to be added by us.

There have been some great ideas for how this project could be developed. One contributor to the map emailed suggesting trying to get more fruit and nut trees planted around the city; and even creating an orchard garden. Wivenhoe have broadened their foraging map to include fruit and veg, eggs and honey sold at people’s gates.

There are some exciting ‘Abundance’ projects going on up and down the country - including just down the road in Bungay, where, separate from their public map, they keep a database of trees going unharvested on private land and then arrange (with owners’ permission!) harvesting forays, or getting people who want fruit together with other people’s surplus fruit. They also hold produce swap days and feature an Abundance table at most of their events. In Sheffield surplus fruit is redistributed to the community on a non-profit making basis, they have collective juicing days, make jams and preserves; now even manage trees and run workshops on planting and pruning. OrganicLea in London run a ‘Scrumping’ project, and distribute the fruit and juice, pickles and jams that they make from surplus or wild sources of fruit from a market stall and a community cafĂ©.

These are all ways that we could take our own foraging project here in Norwich.

What do you think? Sarah Gann

Gathered Norwich walnuts and cobnuts, with sloe gin (Sarah Gann); GrowSheffield's first Abundance crop; poster for local Fruit Day; first fruits of the season (Sustainable Bungay).