THE MODERN MINT BLOG

Aug01

Essex Bees (Part 3)

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

Apr22

Topiary Provocation Spring 2021

organic topiary snow

Topiary Provocation? What is this about? Topiary Provocation, Darren Lerigo, Spring 2021 This spring of 2021 I invited a number of garden designers to a series of meetings via Zoom, to discuss how topiary can be used effectively in modern gardens. I wanted to discover how both clients and designers felt about topiary, whether it was a part of the garden that got as much thought as, say, the choice of stone for a patio…. and if certain plants and shapes tended to trend in designs or if it truly was a mish-mash of different topiary styles. The provocation and talks …

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Apr22

Waltham Place Talk – Watch On Youtube

waltham place talk

Waltham Place in Maidenhead is one of my favourite gardens of all time. The philosophy is to garden with nature, rather than against, so improving the soil and growing a diverse range of plants is placed at the heart of how to manage the space.   Through the European Boxwood and Topiary Society I arranged a talk by the garden team at Waltham Place. It has been recorded and put on Youtube so if you missed it live, you can watch it there and get a feel for what they are doing. There are some extraordinary photos of the garden …

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Mar15

Topiary Provocation For Garden Designers

snow topiary

I am running a ‘Topiary Provocation’ for garden designers, via Zoom, over the next few weeks. Dates are: Tuesday 23rd March, 10am Wednesday 24th March 7.30pm Thursday 8th April, 7.30pm The ‘provocation’ is for garden designers anywhere in the world, is free to join and will last about 45 minutes. Places are limited to 12 per session, as I want to make sure we can share ideas about topiary and how it can be used (and managed) in a modern garden – especially if skill level and maintenance time is low. I hope that I can provoke a discussion around …

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