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 24 January 2013

Back on site for 2012

And we're back! The weather finally gave us conditions that allowed us to do something useful at Windmill today, so we braved the freezing temperatures to cut down a bit of wood for the year's cooking. In fact, we had quite a lot of folk, considering, as regular Mark was joined by Jo and Coryn along with new volunteer Nadine. We also saw the welcome return of Andrew who helped us out last year and long-time friend of Windmill Hugh joined us as well because his allotment was too frozen.

We got a little surprise as well, when we discovered that Mark hadn't just spent his time knocking the snow off the polytunnel on his last visit. He'd decided that we might enjoy a "celebrity appearance" on the site!
Gaia, Earth Goddess
making a surprise appearance at Windmill.

We've been planning to take down some of our willow for a while because Winter is the time to do this, and we intend to cut it on rotation so that we will keep producing enough wood to fuel our rocket stove, clay oven and fires. Only burning our own wood means that we are carbon-neutral overall for much of our cooking, and obviously saves us money. Apart from that, it might not save us time, but it certainly keeps us warm! You've probably heard the saying, "Wood warms you twice. Once when you cut it, once when you burn it."

Nadine helping last years wood to warm us twice

We work without fossil fuels when we can, so we don't use chainsaws as standard. This isn't necessarily a big hardship, because we have a fancy Japanese "Silky" saw which cuts through wood with very little effort and none of our trees is particularly large. It's also on a really long, extendable handle which is brilliant, because it allows us to take the tree down in stages, as well as being just the thing for high pruning. Everyone had a go with the saw, and even those who hadn't tried it out before soon got the hang of things. 

Coryn tries out the Silky

As each of the limbs were taken off, everyone mucked in to help process the wood using saws and loppers. We sorted it into fine material for use when fire lighting, sticks (keeping straight ones aside for the rocket stove), and logs. Just taking down one limb to pollard height created more wood than we could deal with on the day, so we've still got plenty of work to keep us warm next week!

Jo and Coryn turning the tree into kindling, sticks and logs

At the end of the session, we enjoyed some hot soup and a chance to have a look through the Nottingham Organic Gardeners potato list for this year, as it's Potato Day on Saturday (26th January - details in the link). We've chosen a selection, and even pre-prepared labels for the bags! Now Tracey just needs to sharpen her elbows to fight her way through the crowds to make sure we get the ones we want!

Thursday 17 January 2013

It's chilly!

This is what Windmill looked like today:

Walking in a Windmill wonderland...

Normally when it's this cold, you can keep nice and warm cutting down trees to start coppice and pollard stools and processing the wood. With the trees full of ice, the whole process is more than usually hazardous, so we decided to go for sorting out our seeds in a nice warm room instead!

We managed to find a room in the Groundwork office for a change of scene. Mark and Chris were joined by new volunteers Coryn and Jo, and we had a productive time re-organising, discarding the most out of date seeds and generally working out what we have got before we fall into the trap of buying what we already have in the cupboard.

Ex-seeding our expectations... (sorry!)

Hopefully we'll be back at Windmill next week (and the puns on the photos might be a bit better!)

Sunday 13 January 2013

Welcoming 2013 with the Lohri Festival

We are still on a high after Saturday.

We began what we hope will become an annual event, celebrating the Indian festival of Lohri (follow the link to find out more - it's fascinating). This is a celebration of the harvest to come, and focuses on gathering around fires to dance and eat nice things, so it sounded like the perfect festival for us to bring to Windmill. It's especially popular with the Punjabi community, who are well represented in the local area, so we put out the word that everyone was welcome and were delighted at how many people came.

We also spent some of our sessions before and after Christmas creating beautiful lanterns for the festival. We made some by perforating old tin cans, and others out of willow and glued tissue-paper. Gateway to Nature helped us, as did our regular volunteers. The results were just lovely and gave the polytunnel a wonderful atmosphere when they were installed.

We began the event whilst it was still daylight, by lighting 2 fires with the help of local children, one in our fire-pit and another in a special metal fire bowl. This kind of thing has to be done with health and safety at the fore-front, so we worked to a detailed risk assessment and before hand, we discussed fire safety with them. We were amazed when the children all explained the full detail of what to do if anyone accidentally lit themselves - stop, drop and roll. One of the visitors was from the Fire Service, and was delighted to discover how well the children had remembered the visit to their school from the Fire Safety team. (Note: This was a carbon-neutral event because all the fuel wood for the fires was from trees coppiced on our site.)

The fire-bowl in action

The fires soon took, and with a designated adult to look after each one and keep the enthusiasm of young helpers to sensible levels, we were ready as the first arrivals turned up. As more people arrived, the dhol drummers started up, and the dancing started. Framework brought along some drums so visitors were able to join in with that too. Members of the Punjabi community brought food to add to the snacks we had provided, and the smell of freshly-cooked popcorn started to waft from the outdoor kitchen... 

The drummers gather around the fire

Meanwhile, in the polytunnel, Rosy ran a workshop on making decorative bird-feeder hangers from willow stickes, popcorn, peanuts and bird-cake. Families had a lot of fun making these and hanging them on trees and bushes around the allotment.

Making the bird feeders

Decorating the allotment with bird-feeder hangers

One of the traditions of Lohri is to walk around the fire throwing in food offerings, so some of the Punjabi visitors showed us how it was done and taught us rhymes for children to say. We discovered from our guests that the Festival is related to celebrating an Indian "Robin Hood" - Dulha Bhatti - who stole from the rich to give to the poor, and fought for their rights!

The visitors enjoy traditional snacks

What bird? Sybil and Tracey - 2 of the creators of the pheonix
(along with Chris and Kath)

As the sun went down, we lit the lanterns. It made the allotment look quite magical. All in all, we think Lohri is a great festival to celebrate in Nottingham!

Lanterns light up the night

A bit of festive magic as the lanterns are lit in the polytunnel