It seems a while since I last put a newsletter together which means that I have a lot of things to tell you about.
We have had loads of good fortune and generosity come our way over the last few months This newsletter will read like a long ‘thank you list’ which is appropriate at harvest festival time.
I am pleased to report that our Samhain event was a great success. We had a huge target of £550.00 to reach so that we could access the Whitemoss Funding Award that we have secured for £5000.00. It is a kind of ‘match funding’ idea whereby we must contribute 11% of what we have been awarded to access the funding. See the ‘Barn Update’ section later in this newsletter for specifics on what we are spending the money on.
Besides raising money, the main reason for having the Samhain celebration was to mark the end of the growing season and look forward to the future. It is important every now and again to take stock of where you are up to and celebrate what we have achieved. I think we did a good job. Last time we celebrated Samhain we did it down on the field on a cold stormy night under a tarpaulin out of the back of a shipping container. This year’s event was a lot more refined and a lot warmer.
I can’t comment on the Samhain Celebration success without mentioning Barnaby and Molly who pretty much conceived and organised the whole event adding their creativity and professionalism which took things to a whole new level. Barnaby's role as MC was amazing and he even wrote and performed a song especially for the event which was a wonderful surprise.
To see more images from the event and see the final figure raised, click onto our web page here.
Crown Paints – Finishing the Barn
If you have been down to the field lately you could not help to notice that we now have a wonderful ‘Forest Green’ barn. All the multi-coloured ‘end of line’ steel sheets that we managed to acquire for the barn are now a uniform dark green. It merges us into the landscape and makes our project look more professional.
We must give a very special thank you to Crown Paints and especially Antony Owen, the manager of Crown Decorating Centre, Southport. We approached Tony at the beginning of the season to see if Crown would be able to offer us a discount. Crown did much better than that, they offered us all the paint for free. This would have been a massive cost to us, especially if we were to use the high quality durable finish that we have been supplied with. The water based paint we received went on well with just a couple of coats and should give 8 years of protection to the barn.
Thanks Tony and thank you Crown Paints. Thanks also to all our painters especially Terry Lake who took the lead in getting things organised as usual.
Environment Agency Corporate Day
We were excited to host our very first corporate volunteer day. Many large organisations have corporate volunteer days where staff can get out of the office and team build together whilst also doing some good deads for the community. We were very pleased to host such a day for the Preston based staff of the Environment Agency.
The team of 10 from the Environment Agency split into two groups. One group lifted self seeded Alder saplings from around the Alder coppice and re-planted them in the windbreak plantation. The other group cleared the poly tunnel of the crop debris from our tomatoes and cleared the site for our new poly tunnel to go up.
This is our first experience of hosting a 'corporate volunteer day' and it was well received. It worked well for us and everyone said they had a good time. We would love to do more, so if you you know an organisation that takes part in such events perhaps you could mention our name.
Next Jobs For The Barn
The next phase of our infrastructure building is to use the Whitemoss Funding to finish off our barn. We have plans to do the following:
- Insulate the walls and ceiling to protect crops from frost and make a better working environment.
- Lay down a sturdy level floor.
- Build new benches for processing and packing veg boxes
- Put some form of wood burning heating in place for winter months so that we can get warmed up after spells outside.
- Put together a disabled access compost toilet.
- Put hardstanding down on the access area in front of the barn.
Poly Tunnel Funding
Another great thing to happen to us lately is our success in being awarded £3740.00 by The Vinci Foundation to fund a new poly tunnel. Matthew Brown who has been a member of BCF since we started, was instrumental in bringing the funding bid our way. Thanks Matthew.
We have been asked to take part in the Skelmersdale Soup event this Friday, 11th November at The Engine Rooms Recording Studios, 14 Westgate, Skelmersdale WN8 8AZ, which is a combined social and fund raiser. Claire Cooper, one of the organisers sent us the following description on how the event works.
The evening will start at 6.30pm and each of the groups will have a chance to pitch for the money the audience have paid to vote and in return get a bowl of soup and a roll, hopefully a dessert too!
Each group can pitch for about 3 minutes, stating what they would use the money for if they won. There will be entertainment from the Dream-Makers drama society and some of the bands from the E Rooms.
The cost of the tickets is £5, which as stated earlier includes a vote, a bowl of soup, a roll and hopefully a dessert.
It sounds entertaining and fun so I will be making a pitch for BCF. Come along and give it your support. The more people we bring along with us, the more chance we have of winning the pitch.
Winding Down The Veg Box For This Season
Our veg box customers will not have failed to notice that the range of veg in the boxes is dwindling away. Due to some growing problems, we haven’t got the range of winter brassicas that we should have this year, which would have made the autumn and winter veg boxes more varied and extended our season. For this reason, we dropped the price but I have plans to improve this next year. Sad to say that the veg box will be finishing this week but with our new poly tunnel coming along for the spring we should start next year’s season earlier and can run right into the winter.
What To Look Forward To
Don’t forget our next social event Winter Solstice, which is planned for Saturday 17th of December. The event will be at the Cricket Club again but this time it will be a pot luck supper where you bring your own drink (no bar this time). Food wise, bring along a dish to share on the buffet table. This event is purely a social to celebrate the Winter Solstice (which is actually on the 21st of December, the shortest day of the year) and not a fund raiser. It will be a time to make our own music and have some relaxed fun
Jobs To Be Done Over The Winter
As winter comes along our attentions will shift away from growing fruit and veg and shift over to tree planting, crafts, building and infrastructure. We have many projects in mind including:
There is still going to be loads to do so don't go without your dose of good fresh air over the winter. I think there is a good argument for getting outdoors in winter otherwise some people never see any sunlight. From my recent experience working in retail, I had days on end during the winter when I started work in the dark and went home in the dark spending my working day under artificial lighting; it's not what our bodies where made for.
- Finishing the barn.
- Building a bread oven.
- Cutting and grading willow for crafting and planting.
- Planting willow for craft projects.
- Planting willow for firewood.
- Planting windbreaks and hardwood coppice.
- Digging drainage ditches (with the aid of a digger).
Hope to see you soon.