Congratulations to Bridgend Inspiring Growth for securing a lease on Bridgend Farmhouse. We look forward to seeing what develops there! If you'd like to get involved or to know more then do visit their site or their blog.
Saturday saw us exploring under the guidance of Nenya and Dr Richard Milne to find out how many wonderfully edible plants are growing wild all around us. Despite a rather damp day none of us got too wet as we tramped round gathering a surprising number of edibles - including Lime leaves (from Lime trees, but not the sort that grow lime fruit!), which in my humble opinion are much nicer than lettuce in a
salad; also nettles (easy if you have a pair of barbecue tongs it turns out!); and even goose-grass or sticky willie (who knew that was edible?) – and these were just a few of our discoveries!
Our little harvest was brought back to Liberton Kirk Centre and transformed, with the addition of some other veg, into a very appetising lunch – including soup, stir fry and salad. All our findings were of
course thoroughly washed and the goose grass went through a blender before it went in the soup.
For those who are interested, the soup recipe below is included below.
Forager's Nettle Soup
For a 2-2.5 litre pot you'll need:
- a little oil (olive, rapeseed, sunflower etc.)
- 2-3 medium carrots, chopped into small enough chunks for frying;
- 2-3 onions (same);
- 4-5 medium potatoes, peeled or scrubbed clean and chopped into small pieces;
- 1.5 litres of boiling water
- 2 heaped tablespoons bouillon powder (I use Marigold organic)
- 1 tomato, chopped into small cubes
- a good handful of fresh washed nettle leaves (use only young nettle tips before they flower, and cut away most of the stalk as it is too tough). Leave them whole if you are going to puree your soup, but chop thinly if making a chunky soup.
- any other greens that are good to eat in a soup such as young cleavers (chop with an electric chopper before adding to soup), ramsons, sorrel, sweet cicely, or ribwort plantain.
Heat oil in a pot, and fry onions until soft, then add carrots and fry for a further 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Top with boiling water and tip in potatoes. Cover and bring to the boil and add bouillon. Turn down a bit and let simmer until potatoes are almost ready, then add the tomato, and after a couple of minutes all your greens. Stir through, bring to the boil once again, and turn off the heat. Adjust seasoning if necessary, and puree if pureeing.
Serve hot, with a dollop of sour cream if you fancy it.
The soup freezes well and will keep in a cool place for a couple of days.
We were so saddened to hear the terrible news of the death of Keane Wallis-Bennett at Liberton High School this morning. Our thoughts are with all the staff and pupils, and especially with her friends and family.
Liberton High School are having a fundraising fair on Sunday 23 March where the Eco group will have a stall to sell herbs and plants and we're going to team up with them to raise some funds for the forest garden project.
Our bed at the school allotment is looking great and has yielded some very tasty rocket, lamb's lettuce and beetroot tops, and there are still lovely curly kale, parsley, lots of rocket, lamb's lettuce and Swiss chard ready to pick, and purple sprouting broccoli is starting to flower. Some of the fruit shrub cuttings look like they've made it, so it all looks pretty good.
Today we harvested the parsnips (some were enormous!) and sowed lettuce, spinach, broad beans, and radishes.
About four or five years ago Kaimes Lockhart Memorial Church had to move out of their building as it was unsafe and irrepairable. It was demolished and the patch of ground belonging to the Church has been lying vacant since, though the church members are keen to build some sort of community asset there.
In the meantime, to try to make the area attractive and useful they're setting out to plant a hedgerow around the perimeter - including beech, hawthorn/quickthorn, blackthorn and wild rose to beautify what has been quite a bare looking spot and encourage local wildlife.
They contacted our group to see if we'd be willing to help prepare the ground for this and so we spent the morning of Saturday 22nd February (working alongside members of the Church) to cut back the turf along two edges of the field and start digging a trench for the bushes to go into.
The actual planting will go ahead next Friday 28th February.
Sadly we've had to cancel our Walled Garden event. While our initial enquiries with the Council had met with positive responses it seems that further up the chain our plans clashed with a feasibility study being conducted into the best use of the garden.
Despite this disappointment there are a lot of positives, we're still being allowed to work in the Garden at present and we're determined to make it as loved and useful as we can for as long as we can!
We've also got exciting new developments in our links with Liberton High School (see our events page), so around the area things are growing quietly. We'll hope for blooms in the spring!
Sadly Ferniehill park did not get it's Green Flag Award this year, but it's a target we're going to keep working towards in the year to come! Our next Saturday there will be Saturday 12th of October at the slightly earlier time of 9:30am to 11:00am (see our events page).
So today we've just submitted a funding application to the City of Edinburgh Council's Get It Sorted Campaign in the hope that they'll help out with our Tea Party on September 28th when we plan to stake out the Walled Garden and work out the local vision for it.
There's so much we want to see happening there - the wall repaired, tasty edible things growing there and it becoming a nice place to be. Repairing the wall is going to take us finding a lot more money, but this is a start on the rest!
As well as the money some early applicants will also get coverage in the Evening News.
Yesterday I found myself stuck in Balerno for 3 hours with nothing to do.
Some readers may be immediately rebelling at my use of the word “stuck”, but I use it because that was how I felt. It had been a busy day so far, it wouldn't end until late, but between 4:15pm and 7:15pm I was left to my own devices. Not enough time to go home, nothing with me that I could work on. Stuck.
So I went for a walk along the water of Leith, because it's a pleasant walk and it would be a way to pass the time.
As soon as I was out of earshot of the traffic I considered using my phone – seeing whether any friends or family were free for a chat. No doubt if my phone was high tech enough to let me check my emails I would have considered that too. But my battery was getting low, so my phone stayed in my pocket. I should surely, I thought, just be able to walk for a while and enjoy the surroundings.
I then realised that I was storming along as if I was late for an appointment. So I made myself slow down. It took an effort of will at first: walk slowly, notice the cow parsley, notice how each flower head is made up of many tiny flowers, listen to the water, wonder what another plant is, listen to the birds.
But within about ten minutes it was as though my whole brain had changed gear. Taking in my surroundings was no longer an effort, it was coming naturally. I was ambling along, drinking in the leafy green light, the musical chuckling of the river, the bird cries and the occasional rustling and darting of startled wildlife hidden in the undergrowth.
I realised I was feeling better than I had in ages.
Which got me thinking about an article I'd read about the Greek Island of Ikaria.
Ikaria is one of the places in the world notable for its inhabitants longevity – and not just their longevity, but their quality of life into old age. Researchers looking at such places have come up with two common factors...