The FOOD Group (‘Food On Our Doorstep’) was launched in May 2009 by members of Transition Town High Wycombe. TTHW feel there is a need to find ways for our local communities to make a transition from a time when oil and other resources have been cheap, plentiful, and available, to a future where these things are not so certain. Food supply will be affected.
By localising as much food production as possible, we can save money, save resources, and improve food security. However The Food Group has its own independent reasons to exist, and will operate autonomously. It is for anyone who is interested in local food production for local people, for whatever reasons, and membership of TTHW is not required! Anyone can become involved.
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Anyone For Horse?
– reflections on the horsemeat scandal from Food Group member Celia
Many Frenchmen ( and women) must, over the past couple of weeks have been wondering what all the fuss is about. After all, the term “steak” on a French menu is generally accepted to refer to “chevaux”. Beef would be described as “le bifstek” and, no doubt, priced accordingly.
In the UK, however, the discovery of horsemeat in many processed meals has opened a far bigger can of worms than might have initially been thought. On one level, as exemplified by government response, it is a matter of fraudulent mislabelling; and it has been argued that, since there has not, so far, been any suggestion of a health risk, this is as far as it goes.
However, dig deeper into the can of worms and we find issues around the principle of eating these much-loved ex-race horses and riding ponies; tantamount to eating Rover or Tiddles! Even more importantly the whole supply chain of what goes into ready meals has been exposed along with the apparent impotence of the average consumer to control the situation. Descriptions of the journey from market to abattoire, and processing plants to supermarket, across many European and eastern European frontiers have made harrowing reading and raised many other issues. The use of chemicals, including medication, animal welfare standards, hygiene standards and the carbon emissions resulting from extensive food miles are all now topics open to scrutiny; and quite rightly so.
If anything constructive can come out of the horsemeat scandal it is that people should be questioning a system of cheap food production and consumption that has largely become the accepted norm over the past few decades.
Many individuals and organisations have been trying to raise these issues for some time and this year the National Federation of Women’s Institutes have launched a programme of public debates on the subject of food security. ( Watch this space for the High Wycombe Great Food Debate.) Meanwhile many local businesses are continuing to produce food to the highest standards of welfare and quality with a traceable provenance. “Cheap” food comes at a price and perhaps now is the time to question whether it is one worth paying.
Wycombe Harvest 2012
– an opportunity to participate in “A Celebration of Local Food”! On Bank Holiday Monday August 27th The High Wycombe Town Centre Partnership are staging “Wycombe Harvest 2012 – A Celebration of Local Food”, in High Wycombe High Street. The FOOD Group & Local Roots Wycombe have been tasked with approaching and encouraging potential participants. The event’s aim is to demonstrate the range and diversity of local food producers and suppliers, by offering them an affordable opportunity to showcase their businesses and sell their products; and to raise awareness generally of the benefits of good quality and locally-grown food, including grow-your-own. Engagement with the public will be encouraged, and a range of food-related activities offered, so as to create a bank-holiday event bringing the community together around the theme of food. A stall will cost £30 for the day. Reductions may be offered for smaller stalls or for not-for-profit organisations, and for smaller businesses there may be an opportunity for joining together with others. You may also be able to use a demonstration kitchen as part of a co-ordinated programme, should you so wish. If you are interested in having a presence at this event, or would like to know more, please let us know by emailing us.
WANTED: Community Food Champion from Wycombe
– Laura Silverstone from Bucks County Council (Recycling Project) is coordinating an initiative to find & train volunteer food champions in the area. Jointly working with Recycle for Buckinghamshire, Love Food Hate Waste and Garden Organic, these volunteers will help to spread the word about local food, food waste, and grow your own at events, schools, festivals, etc. The commitment is 20 hrs for the whole year and you will get two full days of training in March. Also, you will be eligible for a small amount of funding for projects such as a community garden or local food festival, etc. It would be great to have someone from our FOOD group be a part of this initiative. Laura and Vidya will be working together next year to do some activities around food waste and maybe a brief talk on local food for one of the training days in March. Learn more here:
Apple Days at Hughenden October 1st/2nd 2011
|All photos courtesy of Sue Carey.|
Local Food: Local Recipes
So you have been to the events where we have given away free samples of local food… Ever wanted to know how to make our famous Walnut, Apple & Sage Focaccia Bread? Here’s how:
WALNUT, APPLE AND SAGE FOCACCIA BREAD
1 lb Strong White Flour
0.5 lb Wholemeal Flour (local Pann Mill flour is ideal)
2oz Olive (local Chiltern Rape Seed Oil is ideal)
7g Easy Blend Yeast
Using a mixer; mix all ingredients together with a dough hook for 10 minutes at medium speed. Dough should be very soft. Cover and allow to prove until dough has doubled
in size. Add approximately 4 oz of each of chopped apples and chopped walnuts. Roll out dough and brush with oil. Sprinkle with chopped sage and, using fingers, make indentations all over surface. Allow to prove until double in size then cook at 200 degrees C for 15-20 minutes. Turn out immediately onto wire rack to cool.
You may be reading this because…
You may be reading this because you are worried about the quality of our food, and what happens to it during industrial processing. You may be reading it because you are frustrated at the difficulty of finding local organic food. Or you may be interested because of what is coming to be known as the Food Security issue – in other words, how can we make sure we are still able to eat, no matter what happens elsewhere in the world. Alternatively you may feel that the current situation where ten calories of fossil fuel are used to provide one calorie of food on our plates, is simply unsustainable;
You may have an unfulfilled urge to follow the progress of your food from seed to plate. Or you may feel disjointed by our ability to have strawberries in February, but no longer to experience the delight of fresh, seasonal food which really tastes as it should. Yet again, you may be one of many who want to see allotments for everyone who wants one, as Local Authorities are obliged to provide allotments ‘when there is perceived to be a need’ (Allotment Act 1908);
Or you may know in your self that it is the sedentary way we now live that is causing a massive increase in obesity and diabetes, and a sense of helplessness to do anything about it. You may worry that joblessness or financial insecurity may make sourcing cheaper food a necessity. Or you may actually produce local food already.
If you are reading this for any of the reasons above, or other reasons not mentioned, we welcome you. In the end our aims are to do all that we can to promote the production and selling of local food for local people.
What we hope to achieve
We already have some ideas as to what a Food Group might do, and we welcome any and all ideas from those who are interested in getting involved. Some of these ideas will appeal to some people more than others. What is certain is that the more people we have, the more we can do. Therefore we need enthusiastic individuals who will get going in some of these areas, be self-motivated and enthusiastic. Do not worry too much if you haven’t done anything like this before: neither have we! Even if you have only a limited amount of time to devote to this cause, that is a whole lot better than the job not being done at all.
With the aim of encouraging people to grow food, we have set up a local garden-share scheme called Bare Gardens, where someone with a garden they cannot manage, can lend it to someone who wants somewhere to grow food, in return for half the food. You can find this at www.baregardens.org.uk
Another area of interest is allotments, and we passionately believe that allotments should be much more readily available. Growing food like this is excellent for physical and mental health, it helps you to meet people, it saves money, it fosters a feeling of community…and it is fun!
One of our members has converted most of her back garden into an orchard for fruit and herbs, and is learning about Forest Gardens and Permaculture, where trees, shrubs, and perennial plants are left to grow without constantly disturbing the soil. The ultimate aim would be a completely edible garden that still looks beautiful, but that might take a while to achieve!
To sum up, we want to do all we can to help encourage the production of local food for local people. It’s that simple…but we need your help! The FOOD Group promotes and aspires to run the following activities for Transition Town High Wycombe:
Compilation and production of a local Food Directory – a database of local food growers/suppliers
The Community Allotment/Vegetable Garden Project
A Community Orchard Project, planting fruit or nut trees in public places or virtual orchard
Garden share/swaps (BareGardens)
Food and land mapping
Local food events such as talks, a secular Harvest Festival or Local Food Fair
Promoting local food to shops
Community Shop and/or Bakery
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project to get local farmers to provide eg boxes in return for money up-front
Education for Sustainability in Schools
‘Rainbow’ box schemes for schools
Bee-keeping/Save the bees – planting schemes & advice on pesticides
A summer picnic-on-the-Rye of home-grown or locally-produced food
Visits to local Organic Farms
- Surveying local people to find out whether they are growing food, and if not, why not. Encouraging the local growing of food, in gardens, allotments, waste-land, balconies…in fact, anywhere possible
- Teaching about growing, storing, cooking, and preserving food
- Chicken and rabbit-keeping in gardens and on allotments.
- Organic, Permaculture and Forest Gardens in an urban setting.
- Guerilla Gardening concept: using ‘unloved’ and unwanted land.
- Food co-operative/Bulk purchase of organic foods
- Seed swap / plant swap/ food swap
- Local Food Markets – persuading ‘local’ food suppliers to bring their food etc. into HW so it becomes truly ‘local’ (i.e. can be reached by foot or bike)
- Raising awareness of Food Miles and waste
- Education on use of seasonal food, to reduce food miles
- ‘Wild’ food, or food for free
- Composting: returning organic waste to the soil
- Glut & Gleaning Projects – Harvesting/collecting fruit which would otherwise go to waste
- Sharing of equipment, e.g. shredders, flour grinders
The current Food Group consists of:
Gemma Rogers (BareGardens)
Spencer Nash (BareGardens)
++many more on the Google Group HERE
..and we are recruiting for more!!
Would you like to help with these ideas? Do you have further ideas or would you like to join this group? Then please contact us by clicking
The FOOD Guide
Food On Our Doorstep is your 2010/2011 guide to locally-produced food within a radius of 10 miles or so of High Wycombe town centre. It lists the farmers and growers, who sell direct to the public or via local outlets, and other food businesses who actively seek to source produce locally. It is hoped that bringing together this information into one place will overcome one of the barriers to enjoying locally-produced food: that is not knowing what is available. We will also maintain an electronic copy for you to download from this web site. So even when the paper copies gets out-of-date, you will always have fresh information online. This is in addition to the full electronic listing that you can find further down this page here.
Download your PDF copy here (1.4mb) ..or..
Download the full print-quality copy here (4.8mb – double sided)
Hard-copy printed versions are now available from outlets all over the Wycombe area. Can’t find yourself one? Then just drop us a line. We’ll be happy to help. When they are gone they will be gone! Hurry for your copy NOW.
Why Buy Locally Produced Food?
It allows you to know more about the
‘where’ and the ‘how’ of your food production so
that you can make better informed choices
It provides reassurance and influence
regarding the animal welfare and environmental
standards being used
It enhances the viability of rural
businesses and the local economy whilst shortening
the distance between farm and plate
It helps sustain the land management
practices that make our Chilterns landscape special
It reverses the decline
in local food production and prepares us for a time
when our communities will need to be
more resilient & self-reliant
Transition Town High Wycombe and friends have enjoyed a beautiful Autumn day in the orchard of Hughenden Manor to launch the new FREE Local FOOD directory (‘Food On Our Doorstep’). The launch event was part of the annual National Trust Apple Day event at the manor. Pictured right are (l to r) Celia Carter of Transition Town High Wycombe, Mike Fox of the Chiltern Conservation Board and Lesley Clarke, (the then) Leader of Wycombe District Council. It was funds from the Conservation Board and Bucks County Council’s Community Leader’s Fund that helped pay for the new Guide. The work was then prepared by Transition Town High Wycombe and friends. The day went wonderfully.
Check out the District Council web page devoted to the project:
Food and our current situation
While we can save energy by travelling less, buying less, and keeping our houses cooler, we all need to eat every day, preferably several times a day. The system we operate at present has built into it huge amounts of energy use. If you include the use of fertiliser, pesticides, fuel for agricultural machinery, transportation, processing, and packaging – all of which have become hidden because plentiful cheap oil and cheap food has meant we need hardly consider them – roughly ten calories of oil are used for each calorie of food that we consume. For an adult consuming 2,500 calories per day, this translates into the use of 6.42 barrels of oil per adult each year, just to get our food on the table.
If oil remained plentiful and cheap, and there was not the additional problem of use of fossil fuels exacerbating global warming, we could carry on as we are; but with the twin looming crises of peak oil and climate change, we urgently need to address this problem.
If oil prices rose to $200 a barrel: the cost of getting our food to the table would rise to $1,284 per annum, per person.
The sums speak for themselves. A family of four – two adults and, say, a ten and fourteen year old, with oil at $200 per barrel, would spend roughly $5,136 just for the oil component of their food.
There is no need to go further into the mathematics of this to make the point that such a way of living will be unsustainable in times of ever more expensive oil, apart from being unethical in regard to climate change. If we are, as many now believe, at or near peak oil, it becomes obvious that we must urgently deal with the way we use oil in our food supply chain. My belief is that we must start to do everything in our power to re-localise our food supplies, to help mitigate some of the problems we will face if we continue to expect ‘business as usual’…
For a Food and Oil Factsheet click HERE
We are interested in starting a Grow Zones project in High Wycombe. To learn more see www.earthabbey.com/growzones. This involves a group of around 10/12 people (though can be fewer or more) getting together to help each other cultivate their gardens for growing fruit and veg. Although this originated as a church project the emphasis is very much on involving anyone in the local community and Transition Town High Wycombe would be very keen to work with local churches on the project. There appears to be a common interface between ethos of the faith groups and the Transition Town movement in relation to the management of the planet’s resources which is embodied in local community food production. See Churches in Transition at www.christian-ecology.org.uk If you would like to join a local group please contact our Secretary Celia Carter.
Tamzin Pinkerton & Rob Hopkins “Local Food”
One of the high points comes on page 16 with a suggested model for local food distribution: 2.5% of food should be from your own garden, 5% from your neighbourhood, 17.5% from local sources, 35% from within 100 miles, 20% from the UK, 15% from Europe leaving 5% from abroad. Hopefully this dispels the myth that Transition is some self-sufficiency cult. It is all about redressing the balance more in favour of the local to build resilience. Highly recommended if you love food and feel the need to do something.
Mark Brown – November 2009
Our Community Allotment Project 2009 – The Exhibition
There was an exhibition of plans for the Allotment at the Environment Centre on Holywell Mead in High Wycombe. The exhibition started on the 14th February and ended on the 26th April 2009.
This was a must-see exhibition about allotments, compost, worms, vegetables and flowers…and just in case you thought it was boring, take a look at this:
At the allotment you may see foxes playing, birds of all sorts …and lots of enthusiastic people digging the ground so we can plant our first crop.
A Start – December 14th 2008
We are seeking experienced gardeners and local permaculturists to advise us. Can you help?
Update (29th March 2009) – since the Bassetsbury Allotment is now closed indefinitely, due to alleged contamination, the open invite to the public to see the site has had to be withdrawn. However the Food Group has other Allotment sites which they are working on. There are also other ideas – so watch this space!
This plan was done in Visio to indicate the sort of Plans we will be working on. This is a work in progress design featuring forest garden (left), conventional (center) and raised borders (right).
The Importance of Growing Traditional and Unusual Varieties of Veg
The EU has a list of ‘approved’ vegetables whose seeds are allowed to be sold in the UK. Most of these are F1 Hybrids (a cross between two chosen parent-plants belonging to the breeder, meaning they will not breed true in the next generation i.e. in your garden; in other words you have to buy the seed again next year). These tend to be ones which crop at the same time, are roughly the same size, and have uniform and known characteristics and probably not too much flavour either!
Uniformity is of course what large-scale farmers want, but is not at all appropriate for gardeners or allotment holders. Having such a small gene bank (i.e. just those on the approved list) is ecology risky too, because it makes the crops vulnerable to disease – one disease could spread through and wipe out the whole variety – , and unable to adapt to changes in local conditions. It is only by people growing the ones that are not on the approved list, that they will continue to exist at all. By growing these older varieties and saving seed, the veg in question will modify itself over time to take account of local conditions, thus becoming even more resilient.
Because of EU rules, the Real Seed Catalogue is not strictly allowed to sell its ‘unapproved’ seeds to the public. They get round this by counting 1p of your order as membership of their seed club, after which they can sell to you as you are a member, and not ‘the public’! I labour this point a bit because it shows how important it is for us to be doing what we are with the allotment. It is an important thing to keep the skills of growing food alive in the community, and keeping as many varieties going as we can.
Where the seeds come from:
Key: [RSC] = Real Seed Catalogue http://www.realseeds.co.uk/
[CS] = Chiltern Seeds http://www.chilternseeds.co.uk/
Crop Rotation and why it is important
Crop rotation is the practice of growing crops in different places each year, for the following reasons:
Crop Rotation Considerations
Crops in permanent beds such as rhubarb, asparagus, globe artichokes, soft fruit bushes, comfrey and other perennial herbs obviously do not need to be considered in a rotation plan, although when they need to be replaced it makes sense to put them in a different place if you can.
The following crops do not suffer from being grown in the same place in consecutive years, and these can be put wherever there is space:
All other crops should be included in a rotation plan.
Principles of Crop Rotation
Potatoes should not occupy a piece of ground where potatoes have grown before until as much time has passed as possible. They like manure, but not lime.
Brassicas, the cabbage family, also need the longest possible gap between two crops. Brassicas like soil that has been limed.
Root crops such as carrots and parsnips do not want soil that has been manured the previous autumn. It will cause them to fork and split, and produce leaves at the expense of root.
Where possible, keep plants of the same family together as their requirements will be similar
The Four Year Crop Rotation
I estimate that as we have half an allotment, we have approximately 125 square metres of ground. This needs to be divided into five beds of roughly the same size.
Ideally long thin beds are best: a bed 20m x 1.25m across can be reached from either side without standing on the soil. This method has been shown to produce the best crops, as the plants can more easily get their roots down into the loosely-packed soil. It also has considerable advantages to the people growing the crop: the plot does not have to be dug as deeply in subsequent years! However, beds 1.25mx20m may not be possible. Whatever shape the beds are, bear in mind that the less you walk on the soil the better.
Keeping a plan of your plot and marking in what has been planted where as you are unlikely to remember what was planted where after a couple of years.
Example of Four Bed Rotation: Year One
Bed 1: Potatoes
Enrich area with compost/manure and plant potatoes and tomatoes, and any others (Solanaceae family).
As these are harvested, follow by winter varieties of onions and leeks
Bed 2: Carrots etc
Sow parsnips, carrot, parsley (Chenopodiaceae family) and lettuce, plus others in list.
As these are harvested, sow Green Manure: Alfalfa, Clover, or Phacelia Tanacetifolia
Bed 3: Brassicas
When these are harvested, follow with Winter cabbages and Brussels sprouts
Bed 4: Legumes
Sow peas and beans (legume family). When harvest has finished, lime the soil for brassicas which will move from area three to occupy the space next.
After harvest, lime the soil for Brassicas which will be here next
Bed 5: Perennials (not involved in Rotation):