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 13 December 2018

That's us done for this year now, following a wonderful Festive Fuddle. We were delighted to welcome many friends who have visited during the year to provide workshops as well as our wonderful volunteers past and present. Well done all for braving the cold. We hope you enjoyed making pine-cone owls, wreaths and home-made crackers (complete with a real snap!). 
Some of the fun crafts we made in the polytunnel.

Many thanks to the Small Food Bakery for the pizza dough which everyone loved - our resident cooks Zariffa and Mary also used it to make Zatar breads - delicious!  Well done to Hassan for stepping in to beat the clay oven into submission so the pizza got cooked! 

Hassan - maker of perfectly cooked pizza & only really warm person that day!
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire & some happy folk who can only
remember the first 2 lines of the song about that!
Thanks to David, Bryn and Jon for the "Christmas tree" - and for the decorations in the tunnel (thanks also to Ash for those).Great to see so many of you, and thanks so much for all your help and hard work this year. 
We're back on Monday 14th January, so until then - Happy Christmas to all, and a lovely Festive Poem from our resident poet laureate, Stuart.

At Christmas Time 
Christmas - a time which we love and adore. 
When we’re merry, excited and o so much more. 
It’s when certain magic can quite be believed, 
And when special gifts are sent and received. 

It is time for our families to all get together. 
To be merry and joyful whatever the weather.
It is time to put all our quarrels aside, 
And to have fun and laughter. 
There's no need to hide. 

It is time for us all to be cheerful and jolly, 
And even quite silly, perhaps full of folly. 
It is time to be thoughtful and time to be kind. 
It is time to relax and time to unwind. 

It’s a time to tuck into a fabulous feast. 
And as we indulge, all talk may be ceased. 
It is time to excuse one for having a drink, 
And then have another. There's no need to think. 

Then as this festive time starts to come to an end, 
Another year’s coming which we must attend. 
And then to the future we must start to look 
And begin a new chapter of our new book.

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Smashing Pumpkins - it's not all about soup!

Great session helping people make some different and delicious things with pumpkins today. 

We started with a little chat about which pumpkins worked best for different recipes. Essentially, there are more watery-fleshed ones (usually with a lighter orange, pink or yellow skin), and drier-fleshed ones which tend to either be darker skinned, green skinned, striped or white). They all taste good, but the drier fleshed ones work better in pumpkin pie, cakes and pumpkin gnocchi. 

If you bake either type, they will loose water, and if you mash the wetter types, then put them in a sieve, you can reduce the amount of water. Happily, if you use the water, you can make a rather nice pumpkin-juice lemonade, which is how we started the cooking preparation, and seemed to go down very well (if fighting over seconds is any indication!). 

Next on the menu was pumpkin gnocchi made using a Crown Prince squash with its lovely dry dark-orange flesh that contrasts with the characteristic grey-green skin. Tracey had prepared the pumpkin in advance by baking it whole in the oven - much less effort than cutting it up, as it cuts like butter when cooked. You just slice off the top, scoop out the seeds and then scoop out the flesh with a spoon. The texture is so smooth, you can just mash it like potato. The recipe below is useful, but you need to allow for different levels of moisture in different pumpkins, so Tracey actually made the gnocchi by estimating. The great thing about these little pillows of pumpkin and flour is that they are great to make in a group - many hands definitely make light work. And they have loads of pumpkin in them and they work really well with sage and garlic butter and parmesan. It's also possible to make them vegan if you leave out the egg. 

Gnocchi going down very well with the willing workers.

After our gnocchi snack, we then went on to make pumpkin pancakes with toffee sauce, which were a really big hit with the children especially - most of them asking for their own personal "stack"! 

Thanks to all who attended, and we hope you've taken away some new ideas.

The "how to" photos below are from another session some years ago now.


Pureed pumpkin flesh, with as little moisture as possible
Plain or self-raising flour


Add 1 egg for every 1/2 pint  / 280ml of pumpkin and whisk
(We had 1 1/2 pints)

Then start to add flour.

Keep adding flour until you need to use your hands to kneed
the mixture lightly. Do the minimum work to get it firm
enough to make into discs about 4cm in diameter (use lots
of flour on your hands to avoid overworking the mixture). If the
mixture is right, it will feel a bit like your earlobe if you pinch it!

You can also tell if the mix is right when the gnocchi
can hold the indentation of the prongs of a fork.

Gnocchi ready to cook. The traditional shape comes from
squeezing in the sides of the circle.

Boil the gnocchi in batches. If made with plain flour, they
will be done as soon as they rise to the surface of the water.

We served the gnocchi with garlic and sage butter - essentially just 2 cloves of garlic gently heated in the butter with about 15 sage leaves chopped finely, and finely grated strong cheese. They were a big hit!

Pumpkin Pancakes with Toffee Sauce

50g butter
225g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g caster sugar
Up to 200ml milk
2 medium eggs
500g pumpkin puree (roast pumpkin until soft, blend then rest in a sieve 
until most of the liquid has gone)
1 tsp cinnamon

For the toffee sauce – it’s easy to make your own
50g unsalted butter
50g light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp double cream

Make the toffee sauce. Put ingredients into a heavy bottomed pan and bring slowly to the boil then turn down the heat for another 3 – 5 minutes. Stir frequently during cooking. 
Put flour, baking powder, cinnamon and sugar into a bowl and stir to blend. Add eggs, pumpkin and half the milk if pumpkin is one of the drier types. Whisk until smooth and thick, adding more milk as necessary to give a thick batter. You are looking for something that spreads to a ½ cm thickness in the pan.
Heat a large, non-stick frying pan. Put a knob of butter in the pan and melt ensuring it doesn’t reach smoking heat. Add 4 tablespoonfuls of the batter, spaced well apart, and cook for bout 2 minutes until they are slightly brown on the bottom. Flip and cook for another minute. Transfer to a metal or china plate and keep warm by keeping a cloth over them, or eat as soon as they are cool enough.
Serve with toffee sauce if liked (many types are on sale if you don’t fancy making it, but give it a try – it’s really easy).

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Even More Well Preserved!

Recipe for a perfect Jam and Chutney making session.

One lovely sunny Autumn day
10 delightful people who enjoy cooking
Ingredients fresh from the garden (+ a few extras)
Some intelligent conversation
A willingness to wash up at the end

Well - we managed that recipe rather well. Our group really enjoyed making our 2 signature preserves - Green Tomato Chutney and Merryweather Damson Jam. This time, we also added a new recipe for us - Irina Chlebnikova's Ajika Salsa. If you follow that link, you might be impressed that we followed a recipe in Georgian (I think?), but we were actually inspired to make it following this version of the recipe from the wonderful Northern Homestead Blog. It proved to be absolutely delicious as a side-dish to refried beans, fresh tomato and coriander salsa and quesadillas (thats 2 tortillas, toasted in a pan with cheese sandwiched between them then flipped so the cheese melts on both sides).

Thanks to all who came to the workshop, and thanks to Nottingham City Homes for sponsoring this as part of the "Just Grow" project.

Thursday 6 September 2018

We're Well Preserved!

We always enjoy the jam and chutney sessions we run each year with the lovely folk from Nature in Mind, and this year we managed to produce a great batch of plum jam (thanks Helen for the delicious Victoria plums), and another huge pot of spiced green tomato chutney. All of this despite rain trying to stop play quite a few times. We're hardy souls, so we just broke out the umbrellas and moved into the polytunnel and the kitchen when it got heavy! 
We even managed to fit in giving the herb garden a good haircut before the deluge (thanks Tammie!), and so if you are after some fresh sage, let us know - we've got tonnes!
Thanks to Zariffa, Shahnaz and Mo who provided a wonderful tasty lunch in the middle of all that activity, and to everyone who attended. If you had to leave early, your jars of goodies have been put aside for you to collect, so don't worry!
If you fancy having a try at the recipes, they are HERE
The chutney team

Saturday 1 September 2018

Making Corn Dollies in the Sun

Making corn dollies after the harvest is a long and proud tradition in the UK, so we were delighted this morning, to welcome expert Pat Bellamy to help ease us into making these fascinating objects.

Pat began with a quick explanation of the origins of the craft and its history. She explained that the word "Doll" is a shortening of "Idol" (we all went "of course, why didn't we think of that!"), and how the original corn dollies would have been part of various rituals, embodying the spirit of the corn and often buried with the new sowing of wheat to bring good harvests in the next season. Some was more light-hearted, with young men plaiting favours to give to their sweethearts or to wear in their hats. There were many different styles of favours, knots and dollies, often associated with different parts of the country.

Pat started us off with some easy plaits which created impressive curls and hearts, then after a quick break for refreshments made with Windmill produce (it's surprising how much courgette you can hide in a lemon and lime drizzle cake!), she started us on some more complicated designs which we had a lot of fun doing, though they were a lot tricker to make than Pat's nimble and well-practiced fingers made us think at first! Everyone managed to create something impressive though, and we all agreed it was a great way to spend a sunny morning in Nottingham. Thanks to Pat and thanks to all that came, including the lovely allotment holder from over the way who turned up with a huge basket of perfect Victoria plums!

Tuesday 28 August 2018

We're re-energising an old tradition with out Corn Dolly Workshop

Some crafts deserve to be re-discovered and we think that Corn Dolly making is one of them, so we're running this great workshop. Full details on the poster, and make sure to book as we might not have room or resources ready for those that turn up on the day.

Wednesday 1 August 2018

One of our volunteers, Stuart, wrote us this lovely poem.

Monday 30 April 2018

Lovely things!

We're lucky to have some very talented volunteers at Windmill. One is our resident poet, Stuart and another is Matt, who has become a talented photographer, and is currently in his second year of photography at Nottingham College. I thought Stuart's latest poem and a few of Matt's pictures would work well together, so hopefully you'll agree!

Nature, by Stuart Vanner

The prettiest pictures of beauty are formed by our nature's own.
Look out, for it is free and it is always alone.
We may see behind a sky that's blue and bold
Shines glorious globe of greatest gold.
And the winds which swirl in a wavy path
Blow tears of heaven, creating nature's bath.
Then may see the flowers and feel the breeze.
Watch and hear birds chirping in the trees.
And since our feelings are shaped by the weather
Reaching the Summer's day mood must be our greatest endeavour.

Our photo exhibition at the Central Library has just finished, but we'll be moving it to Radford-Lenton Library soon, and then hopefully, to Doctor's Orders.