Cat Laidlaw - 04 September 2011
Whoosh!! Did you see it!? That was August. In the blink of an eye the last summer month seems to have barely been and now we are suddenly gearing up for the autumn. Having started at the beginning of the growing season all I've known so far is sunshine, warm weather and long busy days of worker bee-like activity. But August did seem to bring with it a deep satisfactory breathe akin to finishing a good day's work and standing back to admire the results. Not that the task list has eased off, but with most things planted and in the ground, the weeds slightly slowing down, and a good old drizzly English summer (compared to the near drought conditions of when I started), the last couple of weeks have certainly had a transitional feel to them.
The slight breathing space that August brought with it was also signalled by being able to take some holiday time. For me this involved an adventurous but hilly few days cycling and wild camping in Dartmoor with friends. I took the opportunity to swing by a CSA
project I'd heard about near Chagford (www.chagfood.org.uk
) seeing as I was in that neck of the woods. The CSA seems a good model to share the risks and responsibilities (and benefits!) of re-establishing local food networks. It was really inspiring to see what had been achieved in the CSA's first year. It was also great to meet Chagfood's secret weapon against oil dependent food production...Samson, the horse. Check out this Guardian article
for an inspiring read about Ed and Samson.
After Chagford, I headed down to Cornwall to catch up with friends and to see how they and their beautiful 6 acre woodland and garden is doing. Retired from having a small dairy herd, 20 years ago they started planting a woodland in the previous grazing areas. This is now a well established haven of native trees and an abundance of wildlife. Alison has also created a beautiful wildlife garden and of course a great veg patch. It's always a pleasure to see them and help out a bit in the garden and wood. This visit I even received a super useful scything lesson. You can read Alison's blog
on the Cornwall Wildlife Trust website for some wildlife gardening tips and a taste of what they are doing to improve the land around them.
Now I'm back in the swing of work, refreshed after an inspiring week away, ready and energised for what the autumn and winter months will bring. While cutting spinach for the boxes last week Mark gave me an overview of what's in store. Harvesting potatoes, onions and squashes, maintenance tasks and fitting in garlic planting somewhere, and there's been a new wave of seed sowing to do for some winter salads leaves. There'll also be my first apprentice seminars to attend and my project to work on so the colder months will certainly be keeping me on my toes!
Cat is an Organic Apprentice at North Aston Organics in Oxfordshire. Having worked mostly on cycling and sustainable transport projects since graduating with an English Literature degree, she has mainly been utilising her lower body strength and pedal power. Her last job with the sustainable transport charity, Sustrans, was on their Schools team providing advice and support to parents and schools. Now she has decided to build up her neglected arm muscles and make the switch from bicycles to plant cycles and learn more about organic growing.