1st Permablitz at Northwick Park!
Yesterday (12th May) we were with our friends at Northwick Park Community Garden for the 1st PERMABLITZ in the park to create an edible food forest, a really inspiring idea from a group of local dog-walkers who wanted to make a difference by making a space the community can unwind in and also learn how to harvest seasonal produce! 🍒🍎.
The amazing Susannah Hall, Head Gardener at Cecil Sharp House, gave us insights throughout the day on the marvellous world of permaculture and guided us on the way to create a food-producing, ecological and wildlife-friendly space that will increase the range of wildlife habitats and nectar forage for bees and butterflies!
I just want to give a big cheer to the NPCG team; Jo, Rish, Eleri and Iris for making this happen! And to the 60 or more people who volunteered on the day (making it the biggest Permablitz ever in London) it was a pleasure to spend the day with you!
So what did we do! Sussanah gave a workshop on the overall aim and how to prepare the ground and then after a few light refreshments, we began! We dug and turned over plots of grass so to create beds for planting. We turned over the grass so it could decompose into nitrates to feed the plants. This was very hard work but fun, with great conversations all morning long! We gathered just before lunch, when Susannah gave us a mini-talk about micro-organisms, did you know a hand-full of soil contains more living things than all the human beings on earth, over 9 billion! And they are vital because they make the nutrients in the soil bio-available to the plants above that we all love! The NPCG team laid on some delicious South Indian fare for lunch from Chennai Srilalitha on Kenton Road, recommended! After lunch, all of us wanted to nap in the sunshine but alas! There was work to do! Some of us continued digging, some of us began to tear up and soak cardboard pieces in water, whilst others took that wet cardboard and placed it on the beds... this cardboard does three things, it acts as a moisture trap, as a weed suppressant, and when it decomposes, as more nutrients in the soil, win win WIN! Sussanah then gave us a fascinating workshop on plants and planting techniques in permaculture... if you want to transform your garden in easy but incredible ways I'd highly recommend going to the London Permaculture Festival is on the 7th of July, lots of inspirational things going on there - see the event website at LondonPermacultureFestival.com We then began planting, trees in the centre of each circular bed with smaller plants around the edges. In each hole, where a plant was to go, we put in a high quality compost and then we covered the roots in ECTO-PLASM! It is a wonderful mixture that allows the roots to retain water, and it also contains micro-bacterial fungi that binds to the roots and feeds them with extra rich nutrients and water whilst receiving sugars - a product of photosynthesis in the leaves - in return from the plant in a symbiotic relationship! We then padded down and secured the plants with soil, before laying landscaping bark chippings as mulch!
And that was that until next month, Round Two of Permablitz at Northwick Park on 16th June and we hope you come along for a fun, rewarding day out! For more information, like the page at: facebook.com/northwickparkcommunitygarden
Picture time! A select few from the day!
Picture 1: My favourite picture of the day! The children made some Ecto-plasm! I don't know if it's actually called that, but the children loved making it and found it gooey! Picture 2: Permablitz United celebrating the half-time score, but there's was still three hours to go! Great fun and lovely people, really enjoyed spending time with you all! Picture 3: Our equivalent to Cristiano Ronaldo! The food forest will eventually spread itself all the way down the left- hand side of this photo... by the way, this good man runs a reputable tree surgery that covers West and North West London so if you have any private work that needs doing, send us a message and we'll pass his details on! Picture 4: My team talking and joking around a lot but... Picture 5: The "rivals" next door were digging like badgers! Picture 6: But no-one could keep up with this Superhero, protecting her secret identity, she out-dug us all! Picture 7: Ohhh the food was good, so good! Picture 8: Great support from Brent Council too! The lovely Kelly Eaton, Brent Council Officer responsible for Parks, Deputy Leader of the Council Margaret McLennan, Councillor George Crane, with Iris and Rishil from the Northwick Park Community Garden team! Picture 9: Councillor Daniel Kennelly being told, "You can't do any digging... not without my magic wristband!" Picture 10: My team and their shovel technique... Picture 11: which this young man called the 'Pogo Stick!' Picture 12: Susannah spreading her seeds of knowledge into our fertile minds! We're learning all the time, and some of these ideas will find their way into our parks! Picture 13: Can you imagine, in little over a year's time, that little plant will grow to the same height as the girl planting it! And it's wonderful to see children learn from their parents and parents taking pride in what they see! Picture 14: This wonderful gentleman putting the final touches around the trees, a wrap to prevent small mammals from gnawing at the young sapling in the early stages of its growth! Picture 15: Three to a tree spells teamwork to me! Picture 16: The beautiful Ruth came to support her family and all of us with words of encouragement and a lovely smile! Had a great chat with her about the park! Picture 17: The unglamourous but fun work of ripping up and thoroughly wetting the cardboard! Picture 18: Planting the tree, if you look you can see some of the oozing Ecto-plasm! Picture 19: Jo laying down some of the wet cardboard! Picture 20: I love this picture so much!!!! Picture 21: Watering! Talking about water, it is scarce this side of the park and vital to the plants, so the team are devising a clever plan to store some water in the food forest itself, watch this space! Picture 22: Leaving behind something that future generations will know we cared about them, preferably something with leaves on it! Picture 23: Susannah gathering people around towards the end and asking if we'd like to do it again, the answer was a resounding YES!!!! The next Permablitz here is in mid-June, I'll let you know when!
All the best!
Swan Chair, Harrow Parks Forum
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