Tesco Bags of Help #BagsofHelp

Tesco teamed up with Groundwork to launch its community funding scheme,
which sees grants of up to £4,000, £2,000 and £1,000 – all raised from carrier bag sales in Tesco stores – being awarded to local community projects.

Bags of Help offers community groups and projects across the UK a share of
revenue generated from carrier bag sales in Tesco store. The public will now vote in store during November and December on who should receive the awards!

Our project will focus on installing bee friendly Warre hives in north birmingham allotments as community managed hives. These special types of hive allow for minimal bee disruption and maintenance allowing them to do their thing while still producing honey and wax for the community allotment they are installed in. 

We will help the local bee population, pollinate some allotment produce, produce local honey and wax and teach volunteers how to manage these hives for themselves and look after their bees.

If you think this sounds like a good idea, remember to vote for us in Tesco stores throughout November and December!

FREE TREES FOR SCHOOLS/GROUPS

A while ago Sustainable Life provided us with a bunch of UK tree seeds from the Woodland Trust. Our volunteer Cathy planted them and these lovely tree saplings are the result! These trees are destined for SCHOOLS including HE groups. It will be FIRST COME FIRST SERVED for the lot in Birmingham. SO if you are interested in making your own play forest get in touch!

 

s.adelaar@suslife.uk

Highbury Orchard FREE Cob Oven

On Sunday course leader Alan Bale visited Highbury Orchard and ran a course for FREE with the end result of Highbury Orchard receiving a Cob Oven at materials cost only. This was a completely unfunded donation of personal time and skills by Alan Bale to the good people at Highbury Orchard. It was a long day extending well into the evening but with the plucky help of a variety of Highbury Orchard volunteers the Orchard ended up with a pretty fab oven! Now we just need to wait for the oven to properly dry out and they can then begin test fires to condition the oven.

 

Good job to all involved!

View pictures of the event here: Facebook pictures post

Seed Donation to Water Orton Primary

Parent Tina Champion has reached out to us and obtained a free bundle of seeds for Water Orton Primary School from our community seed bank (donated by Wyevale Garden Centre).

 

Congratulations!

 

Building a Warre Hive Quilt Box (BEES)

The weather is rapidly cooling and we’ve had a fair few frosty nights but our warre hive set up did not come with a quilt box. We were concerned.

What is a Quilt Box?

A quilt box is a separate section that fits onto your warre hive above the honey boxes and below the roof. It is designed to act like a quilt layer on your hive, keeping the warmth generated by the bees inside the hive and reducing the amount of heat that escapes through the roof. A warre hive is perfectly designed to allow the bees to regulate their temperature on their own as it has similar dimensions to a natural hive, with the addition of the quilt box the hive is quite sustainable over winter with minimum intervention. Indeed, one of the warre hives most redeeming qualities is that you should not need to barely intervene at all, causing the bees significantly less trauma.

Is wasn’t last minute.

I actually ordered a separate warre quilt box last year, around June. It took a long time to dispatch, but I was patient. It never arrived. After a long wait I then had to endure another long wait to get my money back. I then let the task slip my mind for a couple of months.

After a while, as the days got shorter, I remembered I still needed one and ordered another one. I waited. It was dispatched. It never arrived.

This was getting ridiculous. After having a look around online it seemed that it was the same person I tried to order from last time. Making phantom quilt boxes and having the cheek to try to delay my refund or replacement with “can I get your address and Ill look into that” followed by deafening silence. Meanwhile my bees are potentially suffering. As it turns out, I couldn’t find a single other person who makes these quilt boxes, it’s all the same guy.

Right, time to take matters into my own hands. As soon as Christmas is over and everyone opens up the shops again.

Sawmill to the Rescue

We have a great sawmill nearby to us. They have a good supply and some good staff members who know what they are doing. They will also cut up your wood for you at no extra charge – great news for me because I suck at sawing in a straight line. So at the next opportunity I sent my other half over there to pick me up a plank of wood. Specifically a plank of cedar wood, cut to specific dimensions with a certain maximum depth and width.

Huzzah! They had exactly the right plank of red cedar (Thuja) hidden away in the off-cuts section. This guy also knew his stuff and assured my partner that cedar really was the only way to go for a bee hive…

Thuja

Thuja wood is commonly referred to as Red Cedar. It’s not really a Cedar, but let’s not digress. The reason why Thuja is so GOOD for beehives is because it is naturally weather resistant and therefore does not require treating to be able to sit outside for it’s lifetime.  That means less chemicals and happier bees! Apparently it’s also the material of choice for yurt floors for this same reason. To further ensure the minimum of chemicals in my beehive I secured the cuts together with screws – refraining from using the tempting wood glue – just in case.

Hessian & Sawdust

It also happened that I had a few damaged hessian sacks in my shed – perfect for a quilt box! The base of the quilt box is a piece of hessian stretched out and stapled to the box frame. This allows air to flow through the quilt box but still keeps it quite separate. The hessian I used for this box has some printed stuff on it – ideally you don’t want this either and for other people’s hives I would not use this particular off-cut. However, I wasn’t too worried about this minimal contamination for my own in this instance (for no particular reason). The box is then filled with 50-100mm of untreated, unscented sawdust that sits on top of the hessian layer. Boy was this ever hard to find. It’s not as simple as nipping to a pet shop because it’s all treated and scented now. It has to be clean, dry and unadulterated.

Big Seed Giveaway

We are excited to be working with Forest Schools Birmingham CIC this year to deliver an exciting new project called “The Big Seed Giveaway”.

We are in the process of creating a wonderful learning resource portal online. Here you will find information on this project, how to sign up, discuss your project or milestones with other teachers, parents or carers, and download worksheets and resources to help make your growing project a success.

Best of all. IT’S TOTALLY FREE.

No catch.

Find out more: Veg Champions Project 2017

Sign up: Get a free seed pack

Download Worksheets: Totally FREE

 

Can you help our project? We are looking for help with plant pot donations (3 1/2 inch plastic pots). If you can donate any please let the Big Seed Giveaway Team know!

Raddlebarn Big Harvest Winners Update!

The school have now announced the winners of the Raddlebarn Big Harvest 2016 photo competition!

 

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Congratulations to the Shpanin, Forcer, Hunt and Pickering families of Raddlebarn! We have handed over the main prize and the runner up prize to the school. The school have added an extra two winners to the mix because they were so impressed with the entries they found it very difficult to choose! These winners will be getting additional mystery prizes from the school – we don’t knwo what the school picked out for them so do get in touch and let us know!

 

Happy Growing and see you in 2017 Raddlebarn 😀

Special Award from Kingstanding Food Community

We were pleased to announce at the KFC leaving party, our course leader Stephanie Adelaar was given a special award for her contributions to the project by the director of Forest Schools Birmingham, Afric Crossan.

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The event was primarily a celebration of the volunteers and staff (one of whom is our main course leader Alan Bale) who worked on the project over the last three years. The project is now sadly closing, but the volunteers are determined to continue on with the community spirit and work they have developed to date. If you wish to show your support for this project you can do so by simply visiting the aviva community page for Kingstanding Food Community and registering your vote for thier project. Any and all votes would be much appreciated and help to continue the project onwards into the future.

 

Big Harvest Photo Competition

Sustainable Life organised the Big Harvest 2016 this year at Raddlebarn Primary School with funding from Forest Schools Birmingham and seed donation courtesy of Wyevale Garden Centre.

We were pleased to also run a Facebook Competition for the event in which a variety of parents got stuck in with some amazing photographs!

The teachers at Raddlebarn Primary School have been gracious enough to judge the competition entries and have now decided on thier winners. We are awaiting to hear the results of this in the next Raddlebarn Newsletter and will let you all know ASAP!

In the meantime we were very pleased to see our Course Leader Stephanie Adelaar mentioned in the newsletter who organised the event and invested so much of her time into the project and the growing club.

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We’ve gathered together the prizes for the competition and they are now in the hands of the Raddlebarn teachers who are arranging the winner announcements. Here is the sneak preview of what is up for grabs!

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