Friday, April 26, 2013

Back beyond Bellingen

If you go down to the woods today, you're in for a big surprise. Ms Tagalong thought she was 'going bush' back beyond and beneath Bellingen and was surprised to hear she was going to visit the North Bank Community Garden.

Nomenclature being such a tricky thing in the environs of Bellingen, Ms Tagalong is afeared of naming names but at great risk she says that Ron Kneeguard (or was it Ron Niegaard) from the North Bank Institute, some kind of philosophy group, volunteered to show her around after his Creative Director had said very firmly on the phone that Ms Tagalong should visit, Community Gardens being her kind of thing and all that.

Ms Tagalong didn't realise they do things bigger in Bellingen but seemingly they do if community gardens are anything to go by.

Autumn, change of growing season, blowsy banks of daisies, marigolds and perennial basil flop over the beds hiding end of season tomatoes and zucchini. Clumps of mixed lettuces poke through bare cleared patches, brilliant green and purple; and that was just the first bed!

The ground slopes down to a kitchen and pizza area, a grassy sitting area in front of a stage. To the left and below lie the gardens through the twig hoop, above, the chicken pen and the nursery with seedlings and plants for sale.

Wander, pick and pay. An honesty box if you're not doing any work.

The sheer expanse made Mr Ideasman green. Space for creativity, compost and cuttings. Ms Tagalong was more minded of lush places, and thought of Maddie Grigg who might also be hankering for green spaces away from home. 
Lush view from a lush place

'We aren't actually members,' the Creative Director confided, 'but we do come and pick salad and pop coins in the box.'

A bag of salad safely in the boot the next stop was the edible streetscapes of Bellingen. No honesty box here – just positive encouragement to glean herbs, veggies and salad. A plastic container complete with paper bags sat hopefully under the Real Estate Office's sign.

'People don't tend to take much,' Ron said, 'it doesn't really feel like true gleaning.'

An edible streetscape planting
But the melons had gone. A bedraggled vine sprawled down the black plastic bank outside the school. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme sprouted happily in the stone pots lining the main road. 
The Potting Shed

Well done North Bank, Community Garden and Institute, in, about and above Bellingen!

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Wear your badge with pride!

Ms Tagalong and Ms Mova never let the grass grow under their feet, so to speak! They see an opportunity and grasp the nettle! Stop the punning, we hear you say. 
Those of you who assidiously peruse each Facebook update with a fine toothcomb might have noticed the references to Timebanking
'What is it all about?' asked Ms Mova. Ms Tagalong was slurping her japanese noodles and trying to explain. 
'Well you know how our lovely volunteers come along to the garden and help, this actually encourages them more.' (As if the lure of the garden is not enough!)
'As they accrue hours of volunteering they can use these to maybe find another service someone else on Timebanking is offering. Like, perhaps, someone to paint their house,' she stopped, thinking of the unfinished painting on the front of her house! 
Ms Mova agreed that it sounded like a good idea and ate the last dumpling!
'So what do we do now?' she asked. 
'Well, I will register us as an organisation and then encourage all our participants to register too.'
Ms Mova's eyes glazed over, she was thinking of the massage she might need and probably could get from registering on Timebanking. 

So there we are; Tighes Hill Community Garden all registered and ready to go. 
Roll up, roll up for the next working bee and be able to claim hours!
Click on the link to register folks and remember you don't have to volunteer for an organisation like us to do so. 
Any questions or comments gratefully received and answered to the best of our ability! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Sandhills? Verdant green hills...

Ms Tagalong just saw this wonderful tromboncino squash whilst twittering. Thank you Figjamandlimecordial for the permission to use your lovely photo and teach us community gardeners something about them. Would these be good stir fried? 


Whither goest thou?

Not from whence she came, certainly. And about whom are we talking?

Ms Tagalong, of course. After an exciting day at the Newcastle Writers Fest Ms Tagalong wandered in the cool Autumn evening looking for a haven before the train came in to whisk her back to the far-flung lake suburb, her temporary residence.

Downtown Newcastle. Newcastle CBD. Sandhills! The community garden for Newcastle East beckoned.

She apologises for the lack of photos in this post. A rather less than smart phone sent back images of less rather than more pixels!

Approaching through the old railway sheds she was gratified to see the verdant beds and banks spilling over the tyre walls.

A battered beige hat, once seen adorning the the cover of the Newcastle Yellow Pages, came into view behind the feathery asparagus.

'I'm just a caretaker now,' said Chris, 'everything's done really. If someone has the energy for a project like that wall over there, that's great!'

She shrugged and said she was happy to come and potter and take enough for a stir-fry or a salad.

'We have lots of visitors, people come and picnic or play in here. I just wish they wouldn't pick things so young,' she added.

Conspiratorily she moved aside frothy asparagus fronds displaying some thrusting young spears.

'They're great in a stir-fry,' she grinned.

Bidding her farewell Ms Tagalong sniffed and touched, tasted and chewed her way around every bed. Grabbing a handful of rocket, mustard lettuce and a lemongrass stalk she was glad Sandhills was still thriving!  

By the way, what is your favourite vegetable, usual or unusual, to stir-fry?

It's great to have some feedback, so please leave me some comments.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A young woman's fancy?

Ms Tagalong sits on her antipodean deck in the cool of the Autumn morning perusing the beautifully written guest post by her friend the blogger Maddie Grigg. She too is having a 'grown-up' gap year; in fact a Big Fat GapYear in Corfu and presently marvelling at the spring flowers as they tentatively emerge from a grasping European Winter.

Spring in Corfu is like nowhere on earth. There are endless magic carpets of flowers at your feet, on the roadsides and blooms in any nook or cranny open to the elements.

I have exchanged my life in the UK for a year in this Ionian island and I am homesick beyond measure. But the spring flowers, oh, you should see them.

I am a country child, whose soul comes alive at the sight of such beauty. I am too practical to be religious but when I see the wild flowers of Corfu, I can imagine them being painted by a team of gods and demi-gods.

‘Pass me the crimson,’ Gaea, the Mother Earth, says to a dryad with a box of watercolours as the god Pan leans back on the trunk of an olive tree, playing a merry tune on his pipes.

There are vast clumps of wild honesty so purple they could belong to royalty. There are grape hyacinths and delicate violets. In the olive groves, great drifts of daisies mingle with swathes of small and delicate pink geraniums and marigolds.

Here and there are solitary anemones, cerise and upright, their petals drawn around a dark centre by a child.

Jonquils march across swampy fields and great yellow flowers from the pea family lurk in clumps, waiting to pounce. Euphorbia is euphoric in sulphur yellow shouty-ness while variegated thistle stalks the ground, SAS-style, concealing the spikes beneath.

Greece has more species of flowering plants and ferns than any other country in Europe. There are some 6,000, six times more than France and making the British Isle’s 2,300 seem paltry in comparison.

This country is going through austerity measures, but you would never know that on a stroll through the olive groves. The wild flowers make me happy to be alive.

It's great to have some feedback, so please leave me some comments.