THE MODERN MINT BLOG
In part 3 of our interview with Richard of Essex Bees, he offers us reasons for growing your own food. You can check out part 2 ‘downshifting’, while the section of interview about bees and how he started as a beekeeper can be read here in part 1. Definitely worth your full attention!
Why grow your own food?
Next time you sit down to a meal, look at the packaging to see where everything came from – it will improve your knowledge of world geography! Eating seasonally and with locally produced, non-processed produce is arguably better for you and also supports local businesses.
It also builds in ‘resilience’ to the local community, you’re not dependent on a farmer in Kenya growing you beans when you can either grow them yourself or find someone in this town, county or country who does.
Also, eating strawberries in the winter isn’t really necessary, unless you’ve made them into jams or Rumtopf yourself.
I appreciate not everyone has access to a garden, local food can be slightly more expensive and people don’t have time. However if you downshift you do have time, you can find somewhere to grow stuff (like allotments or Landshare) and you can learn new skills. You’ll also understand that it’s difficult to grow strawberries in winter.
Dan and I originally rented a field to start our first apiary for the bees. We also kept some rare breed pigs, chickens, ducks and turkeys on the field and, when the time was right, killed and prepared them for eating – either on-site or via an abattoir. We like veggie food but we also like meat.
Unfortunately this field was targeted by thieves and people with air guns so we eventually called it quits. Next year however we are starting with poultry again on a small field loaned to us by one of our bee supporters.
If you can grow it yourself and eat a seasonal dish then you’ll appreciate how much effort is required in putting it on the plate and also how much better a mixed bowl of lettuce tastes in the summer, picked from the garden, than that poured out of a plastic bag in January.
How can we build more resilience into our lives?
I’m a keen supporter and promoter of the Transition movement, originally put forward by Rob Hopkins. Some of the words I use like ‘resilience’ stem from there. It’s the opposite of taking a doomsday approach to peak oil and climate change.
Rather than bunker down, the idea is that you act in a positive manner and try and build local resilience into food systems, energy networks, transport…
Any help you would like for Essex Bees?
Essex Bees is interested in any individual or group who want to help or learn more about bees.
Apart from physically putting hives on the ground we also do talks to schools and social groups to widen our message.
Some of the people who host our hives also help to carry out some of the checks and feeding tasks required throughout the year, this saves us time and costs and also gives those interested ‘hands-on’ experience.
Businesses get involved, normally as part of their CSR (corporate social responsibility) programme, as part of a local community project or because the owner likes bees.
Council departments also sometimes get in touch to seek advice or to confirm certain aspects of their plans with regards pollination and pollinators.
Donations never hurt…
Our website, which we’re hoping to revamp over the winter, gives full details of everything we do – including a fairly regularly updated blog. It also has all of our contact details.
Our Facebook page is more up to the minute with more regular updates.
The website is Essex Bees… have a look, get in touch, we don’t sting!
For books about bees, visit Amazon Books About Bees
I recently wrote a piece for Topiarius magazine, the flagship publication of the European Boxwood & Topiary Society – of which Modern Mint is both a member and big supporter. Check out the EBTS here. They frequently run courses and talks too, so worth keeping an eye on. Below is the piece I wrote about the tools I use when making topiary and pruning trees…. Darren’s Piece In Topiarius Magazine I use Okatsune Secateurs, which I started pruning with when working on a large orchard in Hampshire. My Felco’s were too difficult to open with cold hands, but the chunky …
Just inc are you are free in the following dates in June, you can visit my mentor Charlotte Molesworth’s topiary garden… Check out the dates the garden is open here. And you can of course join both Charlotte and I for a topiary workshop in the garden in July, as well as September. Hope to see you there!
The Nunki weeder has been talked about by Jane Perrone in the newspaper (the Guardian, if you are interested. At the weekend.) She said this about our lovely weeding tool… “Getting on top of annual weeds such as hairy bittercress and speedwell can be tedious. The Nunki weeder has a curved blade that allows for precision work around plants….” There you go – a weeder for precision work, not an avocado destoner as someone once said to me. Take a closer look at the Nunki weeder now.