October 26, 2012
Hello! Because of the need to bring the tomato season to a close, we will all be receiving green tomatoes in our veg share this week. To help us deal with this sudden glut of the green stuff, Sims Hill member Naomi Woodspring provides us with the following recipes. Enjoy!
In the States, one of the joys of the end of harvest season is green tomatoes, especially in the South. Below are some of my favorite preserving recipes. Jars should be sterile, etc but I’m not going to go into those instructions – they are easily found online. These recipes are all in American measurements (cups, teaspoons, etc) again, equivalents are easily found online.
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September 17, 2012
To be held at 7.30pm at Horfield Meeting House, 300 Gloucester Road, BS7 8PD
This is an open members’ meeting, so please bring along any of your friends and neighbours who might be interested in learning more about Sims Hill, and especially in how we plan to move the project forward!
1. Update on growing, membership and finance
The vegetables in the glasshouse continue to flourish and yield in abundance, and we are in the process of agreeing another year of use with Feed Bristol, so that is great. The leeks, cabbages, kale, cauliflowers, and broccoli have survived that vulnerable time of being transplanted to the field, so that is a relief. On the downside, there are very few carrots and potatoes and no onions to harvest, which is serious.
It has been extremely difficult to get anything done in the field this year, which also explains why there have been no community work days – the field has been that wet.
Community celebrations have been quiet this year (our next Community Celebration is on Saturday October 13th!). We have held steady around the 40 shares (60 households) mark now for quite some time. We had planned to grow to 60 shares by July, so our income now is down against the budget. We have managed to keep our expenditure lower than budgeted so far but we have little reserves to draw on, so this is also concerning.
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August 15, 2012
Read on for the latest report from the Hill and how the Board is proposing Sims Hill collectively responds to the current climactic challenges at our next open members’ meeting on 25 September. We need everyone there to help us make Sims Hill one of the most creative and resilient CSAs in the UK.
What is happening on the Hill?
As you know it has been very wet now since April (bar two short sunny interludes). Indeed, it was the wettest June on record (159 years) and one of the wettest springs on record. It is not just rain, from April through mid-July there was precious little sun and warmth. To add to this it has been perfect conditions for slugs; they are at pretty unknown population levels and voraciousness.
The cumulative effective of these conditions is bad news for vegetable growing. Growers with 20-30-40 years experience are saying that this is the worst year they can remember. Iain Tolhurst, one of the most respected organic growers in the country, recently wrote an email saying:
“…this season I am close to admitting defeat in a way that I have never felt before, (actually I am sure I have many times before but have fortunately forgotten the occasions) The weather of course as you all know, well those of you in the south that is, has been an absolute nightmare since the end of March. Never in all my years, have we had to endure such a long period of almost continual rain at this time of year, for 15 weeks it has been relentlessly wet. I have rainfall records going back 23 years and this is the worst so far. Occasionally there have been a few odd days when it just starts to dry out enough to contemplate some weed control or to re-drill some slug destroyed crops.”
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July 3, 2012
Last year we had an exceptionally dry spring; there was no water supply at Sims Hill. We were amazed at the soils’ capacity to hold moisture.
Over the winter, Jay and Kenton dug a pond at the top of the field and laid 600m of mains pipe.
Photo: The 60,000+/- litre pond full to the brim!
This year we had a damp winter (in Bristol) and an exceptionally wet spring (growers everywhere are struggling); there has been too much water at Sims Hill!
To have one a dry spring and then such a wet one in our first two years presents two challenges:
There is the immediate challenge of growing crops this year and next. The wettest April-June on history has made life very difficult and leaves us vulnerable.
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June 19, 2012
A small band made it to Sims Hill on June the 9th to play their part in the city wide, get growing trail. The weather was surprisingly warm and the cake predictably tasty! A couple of new members signed up with a couple more expressing interest.
Since then we’ve tango’d with a succession of cold fronts and somehow managed to get more carrots sown into a soggy sims hill soil. The winter squash are still sat in their trays glad to be out of the incessant wind but longing to have their roots in warm soil. Hopefully the start of this week will be as sunny as the forecasters promise and give us a planting window before the next low tracks in.
The few days since we were last at Sims Hill can be a long time horticulturally. It can represent an age in a wind swept field but can be surprisingly helpful when under glass. Our 6000 leeks (yes we will be planting them by hand) are fattening up by the day and our monster brocolli plants are just begining to develop buds. If we keep the irrigation constant the next few days of fine weather will be much appreciated, especially by the tomatoes and cucumbers who have not enjoyed this years weather so far.
June 7, 2012
After a few rainy weeks when we thought Sims Hill was going to turn into an aquatic wonderland, things are finally starting to dry out. The Bristol area received 273mm (nearly 1 foot) of rain in 3 weeks and was officially the wettest April in over 100 years! Needless to say this had a noticeable impact on the growth of plants and the ability to cultivate and tend to veg already planted. On the plus side we have filled our new pond (approx 60,000 litres in 2 days) and have a really good understanding of water movement through the site. The potential to catch and store water is truly epic and we can potentially store enough rain water to irrigate all our soon to be bought poly tunnels.
Our successful grant applications to Bristol Green Capitol and S. Glos mean that we are in a position to invest in two large tunnels (pending planning permission) plus all the fencing and crop protection necessary to grow to the capacity of the field which we estimate to be between 80 – 100 full shares.
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March 15, 2012
A quick update from the plot!
James is back to work after the birth of his wee boy, hurray (x2).
The pond is dug and the water mains is in (but not yet connected), Jay and his team did a fantastic job of it!
The right hand side of the field now has hedge planted all the way round (ok, we are a few short of the required 1,200 whips). Thanks to those who helped.
We are preparing some of the large glasshouses on AWT’s site on the otherside of the motorway for growing early crops and summer salad. Big Thanks to our new neighbours!
We haven’t got much crops left from 2011 now (due to wireworm and waterlogging) so the share will contain a fair bit of bought in veg now (from as local as possible).
Tractor David has been able to get in and start cultivating the ground for this years crops. With the help of David’s trailer and Steve and his Landie we have got four tonnes of local manure to the field, another four to go!
This year’s workshares have been having their trial sessions. It looks like we might have a good mix of men and women this year, last year was all blokes.
January 8, 2012
We are just coming to the end of our first year at Sims Hill Shared Harvest. It has been a challenging year, yet we now have nearly fifty households getting vegetables grown just up the road. We have only a few harvest shares left available.
There will be a few more difficult months to come in the new year but we are excited about 2012. We should see a polytunnel, mains water and a pond being put in the field in the first quarter, which should give production a boost. We will be growing for 60 harvest shares from next month, so there will be more shares available in 2012, the harvest increasing in July. Ten of these shares will be workshares. We are also planning to run more community veg growing trainings, after this years’ successful pilot.
A combination of four community celebration days and weekend workdays will also make us more accessible to our members and the wider community.
Thanks to all of our members and volunteers for helping us through our first successful year on the plot. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Picture credit: the Eden Project