Welcome to the Secret Garden South of Bobber's Mill Bridge in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, who are nurturing a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us just South of Bobbersmill Bridge, on the allotment site at the South end of Ascot Road. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Thursday 26 July 2012

Great Food and Perfect Weather for Jamaican Cook and Eat

We had such a good session today, we're all still grinning from ear to ear!

Rudi shows us how it's done.

Ruddy, who is one of the Youth team at Groundwork, came to the allotment today to help us to cook some authentic Jamaican food. He showed us how to prepare a feast of Jamaican rice and peas, callaloo with salt-fish, plantain and green bananas. We topped it off with some tomatoes, lettuce and cucumbers we'd grown ourselves.

Getting stuck into the cooking

In the end, we had nearly 20 folk for lunch, and they all pronounced it delicious. Ruddy has promised to help us again later in the year, when our sweet potatoes are more fully grown. We're also hoping to use our own callaloo once it's grown a bit, although some of the local Jamaican allotment holders aren't so sure about what we've managed to grow, or about growing it outside! It's a learning process, and this "summer" weather is not necessarily helping us...

Some of our guests tucking in.

The weather was tropical enough for some to
need to sit in the shade!

A big thank you to Ruddy and everyone who came for the session. Hopefully we'll soon have the clay oven finished, and that will allow us to have even more delicious cook and eat sessions.

The Garden Party!

You might have been expecting our Garden Party a while back. It was postponed from 5th July because everything was so behind due to the poor weather and it turned out to have been a good call, because we had fantastic weather today, and we were able to harvest lots of food for the event. It was brilliant when all the coleslaw disappeared to be able to just go and pick the ingredients for another batch! The roasted courghettes were also home grown - in fact Tracey is sure that they grew between the start and finish of the event...

Our many visitors had lots to do. We welcomed back Pulp Friction, who brought their famous smoothy bike and supplied everyone with delicious concoctions, all created with a bit of human-powered blending. They also brought their mini-tandem which uses child-labour to make bubbles - a huge hit!

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Spots vs. Stripes made another return visit, and soon had everyone taking part in skittles and giant jenga, whilst Rosy helped visitors to make a super bottle-top mosaic to decorate the fence. There were also trails to spot mice and teddies, which were a big hit.

Sarah from Walk on the Wildside came to show folk how to make dream-catchers, which were very popular, and Shona from Fig Local helped to make and serve a lot of the food. Tracey turned up with a carrot cake decorated by herself and Kath, the lovely lady who created our fabulous logo.

Jo Bradley, the Executive Director of Groundwork Greater Nottingham was on hand to present certificates to both our volunteers and those who have been giving up their free time to work with Sarah on the WoW project. We were also delighted to welcome back our local Councillors, Glyn Jenkins and Mohammed Saghir.

Our volunteers with Jo Bradley and our local councillors

With the well-earned certificates

We are also delighted to report that the event was a lot greener than last year! Dan inaugurated the new (well, new to us!) lawnmower which is push-powered, so our lawn didn't need any fossil fuel to get it in trim for the party. Then at the do itself, apart from having used quite a bit of our own produce for the food, we were also using charcoal made from locally coppiced wood by the Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, so we reckon that made it a carbon neutral barbeque. We managed to get nearly all re-useable or compostable utensils and plates, and a lot of the guests walked or cycled to get there. Now we just need to finish off the clay oven, and we can be producing our own pizzas and breads as well!

It was great to see so many folk there, and to get so many positive comments afterwards.

Well done to everyone who helped on the day - you were all stars!

Harvest, Cook and Eat - Indian!

Today was our first Harvest, Cook and Eat session of the year, and went really well. Our expert chef for the day was Jas Rayatt of Red Hot Cuisine, who came to help us prepare a feast of Indian food. Jas rose to the challenge of working in the outdoor kitchen, and was happy to believe Tracey when she told him that the rain would stop about half an hour before we were due to start cooking, and not come back until around 4pm (we should add that she's not claiming any magical powers, just a husband sending reports using a live-feed rain-radar app!)

Jas shows Rosy how to mix up pakora batter
The sous-chefs get to work

Lo and behold, the rain stopped at 11.30am, and we were in business, although we already had a marquee up to make sure we had a dry space to prepare in. The volunteers started the ball rolling, picking and preparing potatoes and coriander from our plot, and then other guests came, mainly from the Acorn Day Centre, and the volunteers helped them to pick mint and harvest onions ready for our food.

The Acorn group pick mint for the dish.

Harvesting onions for the curry

We ran the rocket stove, which performed really well, getting oil hot enough to cook pakoras. We made several batches of these, with different veg, including onion and potato, onion and cauliflower and onion, aubergine and peas. They went down a storm. 

Dan and Ellis perfect the art of pakora making

Mark enjoys the finished article

We also did a chicken curry, and Jas got lots of us involved in making chapatis which were really easy, as long as no-one was marking us on how round and thin we got them!

Jas helps Mohammed create the chicken curry

Steven brought along chana dhal, which was delicious, and got snapped up.

Steven gets his curry ready for the group

Our visitors Tammy and Tonya try the curry with chapatis

Are there any seconds?

New volunteer Edith gets stuck in with the
washing up.  

A great day, and thanks to all the volunteers who did a brilliant job as sous-chefs.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Harvests and Memories on Thursday

Thursday gave us such lovely weather that we felt quite privileged to be able to enjoy it outside in the beautiful setting of Windmill Community Gardens. Chris made sure we stopped to appreciate how good the sky looked - so thanks Chris!

A memento of today's sky for Chris

Quite a bit of the session was involved with harvesting. We have strawberries, peas, broad beans, lettuces and onions all ready, so that took quite a while. Rosy also took the time to put some seed aside from the rainbow chard, so we'll give that a try, once it's fully ripe, and since it was a dry day, Mark harvested some herbs for us, which we're hoping to use for flavouring salt, sugar, vinegar and oil.

Give peas a chance!

Rosy taking the seeds off the chard

Chris's patience was finally rewarded with a
broad-bean harvest.

Later, Dan's Dad arrived to witness the planting of a peach tree in honour of Dan's Granny who sadly died last year. The tree is near Paula's bench in the orchard area, so it should be a great sight for anyone sitting there, and we're hopeful that the nice sheltered location with afternoon sun will be ideal. 

We hope we've given it a good start, with beneficial fungal powder and blood, fish and bone meal, and a stake to stop it rocking so it can root well.

Tracey and Mark ease the tree into the hole.

Rosy was on hand to water the tree in.

Dan and his Dad with the memorial peach tree

Wednesday 11 July 2012

Wednesday welcomes

Wednesday was incredibly productive at Windmill, thanks to the guys from Framework, who are doing a great job preparing the shelter and brick-plinth for our clay-oven mark 2 (we had a little trouble with mark 1!). This version is going to be have a brick shell, with an in-fill of rubble and then a brick oven floor. We are hopeful it can cope with unwanted attention a bit better (the last one, on a wooden plinth, burnt down, we think at the hands of an out-of-hours visitor around the time we were getting the polytunnel vandalism, though it could have been accidental).  We'll keep you posted with a step by step guide to the final stages.

The Framework team and their progress so far

We also had some visitors. Emma has just started to volunteer with us, and she came along with her friends Sylvia and Michelle. They are a great bunch and so hard working that they set too on the weeding and made a huge difference. At this time of year, the weeds can quickly creep up on a plot, and seem to grow when everything else is looking half dead, so this was much appreciated. 

Emma and Michelle before they tried to weed
out the horseradish!

Thursday 5 July 2012

Unveiling Paula's Bench

It's been a long job, but today we finally managed to unveil the bench dedicated to Paula. Amazingly, we had good weather, which was a brilliant bit of luck as the Groundwork Greater Nottingham staff also came out in force to provide a work-team morning for us. We've had a number of groups unable to come because of poor weather, so this 22 strong group made a huge difference in a short time, and our regular volunteers were delighted to have the help.

Matt weeds the path

Paul and Claire get on top of the weeds around the fire pi

We had jobs for all tastes, so a group weeded the area around the fire pit and mulched it with gravel, another group weeded the high beds, whilst others hoed the pumpkin bed, or de-weeded the path between the fruit cage and the polytunnel. Some intrepid folk braved the fruit cage to remove all the unwanted vegetation, and a last group helped to plant up the area where the bench was to go, following Helen's planting plan for the site.

Rudy and Geoff take the weeds off the path cracks

Tackling the fruit cage

Meanwhile, the volunteers helped keep things moving, showing folk how to do the work, identifying weeds and providing refreshments, including popcorn, freshly-made on the rocket stove. 

Adele uses a hoe for the first time!

Weeding the pumpkin patch

The place is a hive of activity

Steven tackle the high beds

The end result is better than we ever hoped. The bench looks amazing in it's new home, and is really comfortable and inviting to sit on (thanks to Mark Manders, who built and carved it for us). The planting around it looks beautiful. Tracey added a mosaic sculpture she had made to the mix, and there will be mosaic in the paving, so there will be colour all year.

Inaugurating the bench.  Jo Bradley says a few words

Mikayla, Paula's daughter, inaugurated the bench for us, and was delighted. She intends to come back often, and to bring her son to see what we've done to honour his Granny.

Mikayla tries the bench for the first time

The team!

Thank you to everyone who helped. You've helped us create a special place in memory of a very special person.

Some of the Windmill volunteers who made it all possible
(thanks also to Rosy, Chris, Jade, Matt, Merion and the
Framework guys.