Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Growing Tooting: our third weekend of free local food-growing classes went very well

The third weekend in our practical, sociable and free Growing Tooting workshops went well in Balham, Tooting and Wandsworth. 
A fourth 'waiting list' group starts on the 24th April in Wandsworth. 
Please scroll down this blog to see our earlier posts.

At this stage of our classes, participants have seeds sown or seedlings coming through in their own planting pots and trays at home: here's some spinach on the right. We discussed together just how to get to this stage successfully!

We also looked at dividing clumps of perennial plants such as mint as in this photo. 
Each smaller clump can be planted out to multiply your crops. 
Hands-on superhuman strength sometimes needed if the old clump is dry...

We have a Third Growing Tooting Handout - all welcome to click here for a copy.

One group of participants has a new allotment, so the timing is great to share what they are doing and trying out.
A key message in the classes is to learn from each other, that's certainly more fun.

You'll remember we are encouraging participants to be partly garden-detectives and partly growing-scientists...there's no need to shy away from some helpful technical tips when learning about growing good local food. One 'technical' but practical topic in the third handout is 'crop rotation' - swapping around what you grow where, year by year.

In our Tooting Community Garden plot, we do 'rotate' what is planted in the beds every year exactly as in the handout. We keep a sketch map of what we are growing, so we can remember what's planted, and to help plan for next year.

Come and visit us sometime at the Community Garden: all welcome to pop in and chat about growing or help out. We're open every Sunday from 11:00-1:00 at 5 North Drive, SW16 1RN. 
Latest info on Facebook: Tooting Community Garden.
Good Gardening!  - Charles

Sunday, 10 April 2016

You're invited to the Hubs & Spokes Cafe, Tue 19 April, 7pm

Join us in planning a wheeled parade and ride through Tooting!

Over the last few months, Transition Town Tooting have been experimenting with the idea of a wheeled parade and some bike rides through Tooting - a chance to celebrate the possibilities of safe, open roads for everyone where clean air and community conversations meet.

In early July, we will be running Tour de Tooting!

On Tuesday, 19th April at 7pm, we'll be holding an open meeting at the pop up Hubs & Spokes Cafe to bring everyone "up to speed" with plans so far. If you'd like to find out more about how to get involved and generally get to grips with all the exciting possibilities of this new Tooting Wheeled Venture, come along!

Hubs & Spokes Cafe
Tuesday, 19th April at 7pm
Mushkil Aasaan, 222 Upper Tooting Road

We'll be making more announcements about the Tour de Tooting very soon, so if you can't make the meeting, keep an eye on the blog. There will be pop ups happening in the weeks leading up to the main event, so keep an eye on the blog or search #tourdetooting!

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Growing Tooting: the second weekend, with three workshops plus an allotment visit

All went well in the second weekend of our free workshops devoted to growing our own good local food - one class each in Balham, Tooting and Wandsworth. (Details of the Growing Tooting programme here).

What did we do last weekend? 

We compared everyone's window-sill grown pea plants, 2 weeks after sowing.

Different conditions (amount of light and watering; depth of planting) produced different growth.

Overall there were crops to be eaten (or planted out) even without having a garden!

Plus: We looked at the components that make up healthy soil

We discussed what 'food' plants need to feed their leaves, roots and flowers

We looked at the herbs we like, what conditions they need...and shared recipes

We now have Handout Number Two - everyone is welcome to click here for a copy

A group also visited two participants' breezy allotment - their very first opportunity to garden outdoors.
As a team, we tried to be observant detectives as well as scientist-gardeners: exploring what is already growing there (celery, blackcurrants, strawberries); proposing what to do first (make a plan, prepare beds, maybe cover future beds with weed-suppressing mulch or sheeting and dig later on); and shared visions of the harvest.

Thanks to all for your enthusiasm and sharing ideas and questions, however new to gardening you are.

This Sunday April 10th all local gardeners are invited to drop in at the Tooting Community Garden to say hello, have a cup of tea made with the volcano kettle, and share some seeds if you have spare.
We'll be open from 11:00 to 1:00, at 5 North Drive SW16 1RN, tucked behind the big house.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Growing Tooting - our practical and sociable grow-your-own local food classes have begun

On March 18th & 20th we started Growing Tooting by launching our new free series of 8 classes on learning to grow your own local city food by participating and sharing with others in your neighbourhood. 
That's 8 classes in each of 3 locations in Balham, Tooting and Wandsworth. Many thanks to Martin for the tireless co-ordination!

Yes it's ambitious to be offering 24 classes between now and the end of June. We're thrilled that all the classes are now full. 
In fact, there's a big waiting list and we may offer a fourth series tucked into this busy calendar...we'll be in touch with those on the list.

Hands-on right from the start

In that first class we started with the basics:
What knowledge do participants have? 
What kind of space are you using for gardening? 
What do you want to grow?

What are annuals & what are perennials, and so what?

Re-purposed DIY planter
Martin prepared a handout for Session One, and everyone is welcome to a copy - please click here

Even though the classes are full, we'd like to share what we're doing...and we encourage anyone to get in touch with us and find a local place to garden.
We want to help make local growing spaces much more visible, and get a useful network going for our area's urban gardeners.

Encouraging new community growing spaces is the other objective of Growing Tooting. Our purpose has been to help 6 new sites start growing. Some of these are the locations of the growing classes described above, and the others are new initiatives where there's great potential for getting growing together.
The six growing spaces are diverse in scale, purpose, style and in community setting. They are situated at a church, an enterprise, a primary school, a refugee charity and at two council estates:
  1. St Mark's United Reformed Church, Balham 
  2. Route to Juice, Tooting
  3. Ravenstone School, Balham
  4. CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers), Tooting
  5. Wendelsworth Garden Fruit Project, Wandsworth
  6. Avening Terrace Garden, Wandsworth 
We'll report much more from each site, and we'll share the learning from the combined gardening class and garden-creation activities of Growing Tooting: it's all about building local participation to grow and enjoy good local food. Many thanks again to the Wandsworth Big Society Fund for giving the project financial support. Much appreciated!
- Charles

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Cleaning Up A Tooting Grot Spot

Earlier this month TTT organised a clean up of the Church Lane car park, which had embarrassingly been listed as one of the UK's Top Grot Spots.  With the help of Wandsworth Council this notorious dump was "cleaned for the Queen" and TTT held conversations about, well, anything really with a surprising number of passers by, in the hastily set up pop-up Living Room. Amazing what Lucy and Simon can fit in that van! 
TTT Team in the Pop-Up Living Room in Church Lane Car Park
And with Council Leader Ravi Govindia
More on this site from the Council here.  Do you know any other neglected areas of Tooting or around that could do with cleaning up?  Let us know.  It would be great to convert some unloved urban spaces into something the community can enjoy.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Conversations About Waste

Today, Saturday March 5th 12.30-3pm, join us in our colourful Pop Up Sitting Room in the Church Lane Car Park in Tooting, near the junction with Mitcham Road! TTT is hosting community conversations about reducing waste and how we make 'good change' in Tooting. Supported by Wandsworth Council, as part of the Keep Britain Tidy nation-wide celebrations to 'Clean for the Queen we'll be doing our bit to tidy up, save resources and cherish the place we live in. The nearby Al Farah cafe will be providing some provisions! Drop by! We would love to see you.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Growing Tooting: learn about growing in our free series of gardening workshops starting March 18th

Do you want to learn about local food growing and
build up your practical gardening skills, where you live?
Our FREE series of gardening and growing workshops 
starts on the weekend of March 18th 
and runs to the end of June

This free fortnightly programme runs in three different locations in Tooting, Balham and Wandsworth - and at different times of the week (see the schedule below).

In each series of eight fortnightly workshops between March and June we’ll be covering the basics of growing food at home, including wildlife-friendly gardening - even if you don't have your own garden.

Everyone’s welcome, and no previous gardening experience is necessary.

Workshop series venues and start dates:
There are three locations; the full series of 8 workshops will run in each.
If you would like a copy of the flyer with all the venues listed, please click here to download.

Balham: We'll run on Friday mornings at 11:00am, fortnightly from Friday 18 March. Venue: St Mark's United Reformed Church, 53 Rowfant Road, SW17 7AP
Tooting: We'll run on Friday afternoons at 2:00pm, fortnightly from Friday 18 March. Venue: Rechere's Education, Health and Wellbeing Centre at Route to Juice, 163-165 Tooting High Street, SW17 0SY
Wandsworth: We'll run at 2:00pm on Sunday afternoons from 20 March. Venue: Penfold Centre, Neville Gill Close, SW18 4JT

Please attend whichever series suits you in terms of timing & location.
We encourage you do join in the whole series for the maximum social and learning benefit - it's not intended to be separate drop-in events.

Schedule and duration:
We have a calendar of all the 8 sessions at each location - click here to read or download a copy.
Sessions will last 90 minutes.

Workshop series style:
Interactive, practical and participative. We'll also look at books and web links, and visit other gardens. We'll build on participants' knowledge and interests.

To ask any questions, and to book: contact Martin:
Workshop series content:
  • We'll cover seasonal planning, preparation, sowing, growing and harvesting - always with an eye on what works well right here
  • We'll explore: What varieties are good to grow locally? How to manage compost, soil fertility and watering? What about wildlife gardening, and sustainability? How can we make or build what we need for our own setting? Which tools are most useful?
  • We'll show you that in the city you can grow successfully on balconies, in windowboxes, in containers on paved yards, on walls - and in back gardens
  • We'll introduce you to local community gardens
  • We won't forget about recipes, cooking and enjoying eating what we grow
  • We'll finish the series with a celebration!

What to bring:
All you have to bring is enthusiasm and readiness to learn! We'll provide all the tools you'll need.

Why join in?
As well as learning and sharing a lot about growing, you'll meet new people, spend time outdoors and get some exercise - and grow healthy food. What's not to like?

The wider Growing Tooting project:
The purpose of this whole Growing Tooting project is to encourage local people to grow good local food by sharing and teaching the basic skills of growing and gardening.
Plus, the project is helping to create a number of new community gardens across the borough. We'll share more about that later on.
Our vision is that these growing spaces with be able to network to share experience, equipment and enjoyment....and help make Wandsworth a growing-friendly place to live. TTT is very grateful to the Wandsworth Big Society Fund for support.

If you have any questions, and to book your place on one of the series of workshops: contact Martin on 07980 095152 (or use one of the other methods above)

 We look forward to seeing you Growing in Tooting
& Balham & Wandsworth!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Bringing local cultures and faiths together with outdoor learning in Tooting Community Garden

We're proud to be helping with a new outdoor learning project in the Community Garden with Gatton Primary School and the Mosaic Jewish Primary School

Our Community Garden-based project with Gatton School has run for nearly three years. Gatton is a Muslim primary near Tooting Broadway - click here for lots of our earlier reports.
The Head at Gatton Scool, Rifat Batool, has always been keen to extend the project to capitalise on 'Garden' learning opportunities for building community links plus vivid SMSC education. 
SMSC is Social, Moral, Spiritual and Cultural development, which is linked strongly to schools' citizenship curriculum content.

Rifat Batool has met an enthusiastic ally in Kate Baum, Head of the Mosaic Jewish Primary School. 
This is a first exciting step in bringing together two Wandsworth borough faith communities in a new way, and facilitating a new chapter of shared outdoor learning. Both schools are Ofsted 'Outstanding', and this creative experiment is an example to all.
After planning in the autumn, last week on a sunny day in Tooting a Year 1 group from Gatton were joined by children from the Mosaic Jewish School. The photos tell the story:
Examining pictures of the diverse school activities in the Garden since March 2013.
Sorting garlic bulbs and separating the individual cloves. 
Which way up to plant them?

Measuring the plot and cutting string to mark the row.


Planting the garlic cloves.
Later in the summer we'll save some to cook dishes at both schools for the Tooting Foodival in September.
 Close encounters.
The Mosaic Jewish School is starting a school garden at their new location in Roehampton. TTT and Gatton School's facilitation experience - including growing and nature, awareness and teamworking games, building the rainwater harvesting classroom, the insect hotel and the bottle greenhouse - gave the visitors energy and plenty of ideas to add to their own garden and learning plans.

Children from both schools will continue be involved in joint plans. We can't wait to see what develops, and we'll share news on this blog.
Please get in touch with us at TTT if you would like to know more, or contribute to this project.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Tooting Foodival Wins Mayor's Sunshine Award

Tooting Foodival 2015 today received an inaugural Grow Wandsworth Award from Mayor of Wandsworth, Nicola Nardelli, who launched the awards to encourage people and organisations who grow healthy, fresh, local food in Community Food Projects.
With Mayor Nicola at Wandsworth Town Hall
At a reception in the Mayor's Parlour at the Town Hall, including very beautiful cakes, Foodival won the "Sunshine Award" for "celebrating the ways people have brought a bit of sunshine into the lives of others through community growing"! We do our best!

Back in September the Mayor experienced the myriad food related activities Samaj Hall, including some prize winning vegetables and bananas (below)!
Mayor Nicola Nardelli with David & Mal at Foodival 2015
We are delighted to receive this award and it was really interesting to meet people from the other award-winning community groups including friends from SHARE Community and Wendelsworth Community Garden as well as new contacts who we hope to collaborate with in the future.

For anyone interested in getting involved in Foodival 2016, the first planning meeting will be at the King's Head in Upper Tooting Road, Tooting Bec, on this Thursday evening (Feb 4th) at 7pm.  All welcome to help us work out how we will create this year's home grown sustainable food festival in Tooting.  If you have any ideas, skills, or just fancy being part of a fantastic (and now award-winning!) community project please do come along.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Restart Returns To Tooting

TTT is happy to announce the first Restart Party of 2016 on Saturday 20 February from 2 to 5pm at Mushkil Aasaan, 220 - 222 Upper Tooting Road, SW17 7EW (next to Nando’s).  Download the POSTER.
You may recall that Restart is the project that aims to keep electronic items out of landfill by trying to fix things as opposed to throwing them away. 

Could you get involved?

Maybe you have something that needs fixing?  Laptop? Toaster? Phone? Kettle? Toy? Hairdryer? 

Or maybe you are good at mending stuff and fancy working out how to fix something?

Either way come down to Tooting on Saturday 20th Feb and join in! You might be amazed at what is possible.

Alongside this Restart Party, TTT will be running an Open Day. If you've ever wondered what Transition Town Tooting does and if you might like to be involved, then do come along and find out about all the great projects in Tooting, from the Foodival to the Community Garden, Oak Carving to Neighbourhood Planning. Join us for a cuppa and a chat!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

WEF - Rubbish, recycling and the circular economy

Wandsworth Environment Forum are holding a public meeting on Tue 19th January (7pm, Room 123, Wandsworth Town Hall) covering such questions as:
What can be recycled and where does it go after sorting?
Is incineration of non-recyclables better than landfill?
How is Wandsworth performing on waste processing and recycling? (Here are the government’s latest statistics for London: Unfortunately Wandsworth doesn’t compare well with the London and England rates.)
Why doesn’t the council collect food waste?
How might we do more together to minimise waste locally?
Sharon Ross from Western Riverside Waste Authority / Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at Smuggler’s Way and Cllr Jonathan Cook, Wandsworth Council’s environment spokesman will be fielding such questions and no doubt there will be some lively discussion!
The Circular Economy
The concept of the circular economy will be presented by Gemma George from London Sustainability Exchange. As you may know, this is a new way of thinking about creating systems which re-use materials and effectively minimise waste and dramatically reduce our need for new raw materials. 

The idea is currently being promoted to the top end of the business world by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (founded by the former solo yachtswoman - see
The final discussion will look at how we, the community sector, and Wandsworth Council might work together to take forwards improvements to the current systems and any ideas for new initiatives.
TTT will be having a stall there and we hope to see you there! If can’t come to the meeting but have a question, please either sign up to Project Dirt Wandsworth Cluster,, or e-mail Vicki Carroll, WEF chair, on

Monday, 11 January 2016

Rooting in Tooting update: TTT's project with local refugees and asylum-seekers

We'd like to update you on the Rooting in Tooting project: TTT's joint project with the Tooting charity CARAS (Community Action for Refugees and Asylum-Seekers).

In our past blog posts (view them here) we've outlined that we have a year of diverse activities planned with CARAS.

Participant groups include the CARAS Youth Club and After-School Club, with families and the Women's Group still to come.

The project purpose?
Threefold - to help develop teamworking and relationships while enjoying new activities, to help develop language and communication skills, and to help participants feel that they are joining in with the local community.
We're so proud that CARAS won a Team Community Hero award at the Balham and Tooting Community Association annual celebration of local contributions on December 10th.

Working with the Youth Club
This is the group with whom we did the pilot project in spring - and it's typical of working in the refugee setting that the individuals and participant numbers have been changing all the time.

In one session we were making models of the rain-fed growing planters that we hope to build for real outdoors - a fun and focused session with a dozen young people.

In another session two dozen young people carved pumpkins, and in another we did more screenprinting using local photos of Tooting scenes. That day one or two lads were on still in their first few days in England...others translated and helped them join in.

Saturday, 9 January 2016

TTT's seasonal tweets for Xmas '15 & New Year '16

From Boxing Day to Twelfth Night we posted tweets at about diverse aspects of sustainability in all our lives in Tooting. 

These were written by different individuals in TTT - so there are many voices represented, aged 6 to 66. And they reached many people - TTT has over 2000 Twitter followers.

They are also immediate and ephemeral messages, overtaken by the next rush of comments (including our own). 
We've decided to log this set of tweets, so we can read them again - and so you can still enjoy them if you don't use Twitter.

Here they are in reverse order:

Tweet 11 - 5th Jan 2016
11th tweet of Xmas from Domi (age 6): "invent solutions to save the polar ice caps in '16" #keepitintheground #yeswecan 

Tweet 10 - 4th Jan 2016
Hands Up for a Hands On 2016: knead bread, knit socks, know that there are 'brains in our fingers' and using 'haptic skills' makes us happy!
Tweet 9 - 3rd Jan 2016
Seasonal tweet: Get through this week by eating well, mostly plants; sleep; move everyday; be social; be aware; be grateful 

Tweet 8 - 2nd Jan 2016
Thinking about how FoodIval might evolve this year 'When people get together over food they can talk about anything'   

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Crossrail 2 : Tooting or Balham? Consultation ends on Friday 8th Jan!

As you may know, Crossrail 1 is currently under construction linking East London with West London and passing right through the centre of town - Tottenham Court Road perhaps being a known example  of the huge impact in time and space of the project.

Well, Crossrail 2 is a proposed new train line, broadly linking North London to South London from Southgate to Wimbledon, involving 50+ stations.

The project is just beginning its life, with construction and funding many years off. There's already been 3 versions of the route that directly affects Tooting:

1. Tooting Broadway was a station along the route with a ventilation and emergency access shaft proposed by the Skylark Cafe, Wandsworth Common.
2. Due to public outcry, the ventilation and emergency access shaft was shifted to an overspill car park near Wandsworth Prison, with Tooting Broadway still the proposed station in our neighbourhood. Everything seemed good, until...
3. Due to more detailed geological surveys revealing challenging conditions underground at Tooting Broadway, Balham Station was proposed as a more practically feasible option with the ventilation and emergency access shaft returning to Wandsworth Common, this time adjacent to Bolingbroke Grove, because of track curvature constraints between Balham and Clapham Junction.

Still with me?  Critically, there is a consultation open NOW which is gathering public feedback on the Balham (and by association Tooting Broadway) plan.

This consultation closes on Friday 8th Jan. 
We encourage you all to contribute your views!

Please do fill in the questionnaire on TfL's site following the hyperlink HERE , click on "Balham" as there is no Tooting Broadway option... tactics..?.. make your comment on Tooting Broadway in Question 23.

Here's some useful information:

An EXCELLENT 6 minute video championing Tooting as a destination for the station and explaining why.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Reduce, Re-use, ReSparkle! Our seasonal family crafts workshop with Tooting Library

On Saturday 12th December TTT offered our fourth annual Resparkle! seasonal crafts session at Tooting Library -  this time combined with Jeni Walker's monthly Meet & Make.

The aim was to teach children and adults how to make interesting, fun and attractive decorations or presents using household materials - newspaper, drinks cartons, scrap textiles.

Here's what we had on offer to make:
  • drinks carton wallets
  • newspaper present bags 
  • textile and paper decorations
  • paper flowers
  • adding to the Library's collage Xmas tree
  • and some children made up their own ideas...

All these activities are easy to repeat at home - for us it's all about mixing creativity and upcycling everyday waste.
And it's all about enjoyment and making things together. 

Some children did every single activity on offer, then went back for more..

The afternoon was delightful - a real mix of Tooting's cultures, with a lot of concentration and focus from three dozen young people. There were rewarding challenges working with new materials and techniques, and persisting with folding, cutting, punching and sticking to make beautiful things.

Most of the adults were making too - it was great to see the mix of generations and also whole families doing these engaging activities together.
There was a lot of achievement, pride and quiet celebration.


Thanks so much to the multi-tasking TTT volunteers who ran the day: Jane, Jeni, Hilary, Rachel & Chuck.
Thanks to Tooting Library - to Heather and Khalid for inviting us (and for helping to clear up at the end).

 More photos in this slideshow  

See you at December 2016 Resparkle!

Friday, 11 December 2015

BATCA Community Heroes

BATCA Hero Hilary
It was a good night for TTT and our partners at last night's BATCA (Balham & Tooting Community Association) Community Heroes Awards.  Our Rooting in Tooting colleagues at CARAS (Community Action for Refugees & Asylum Seekers), won a Team Award, while Hilary Jennings ex-co-chair and key player in TTT since 2008 was a highly commended hero(ine).
Eleanor Brown, CARAS Youth Services Co-ordinator, with Hafsa and Waseem

We were happy that our nomination for the ever helpful Ilesh Patel at Miss U Stationers also resulted in a highly commended award.  

Hilary, delighted (and somewhat surprised!) with her award, reported that "it was a great evening with a real sense of warmth and pride in how this area is a place of community and diversity. A few people mentioned it being an example of how diverse community can live well together."

All the Community Award winners are listed in the BATCA press release - click here to read it.

Email us if you'd like to find out more about our Rooting in Tooting project and check out the newly launched CARAS website!  And don't forget tomorrow's Reduce Reuse Resparkle at Tooting Library!

Monday, 7 December 2015

Resparkle! plus Meet & Make: Free upcycled crafts activities in Tooting next weekend

Two long-running TTT crafts projects which mix creativity and attractive recycled materials are coming together on December 12th at Tooting Library.

Reduce, Re-use, Resparkle! has been offered with our partners Tooting Library at Christmas for the past four years.
Meet & Make is community artist Jeni Walker's monthly project for local upcycling and making.
On Dec 12th we are bringing them together for a free event.

Resparkle! is all about making fun Christmas presents or decorations out of recycled materials - do come along from 2-4 at Tooting Library on the 12th. All ages, all welcome, all materials provided.

The regular attendees (and others!) at Meet & Make are invited to come along too - make some great upcycled festive decorations and also get some inspiration and encouragement on any making project of your own. All artists and makers welcome.

Three inviting photos from last year's Resparkle! -

More Meet & Make news:
Our newly formed connection with local charity Wandsworth Oasis was knitted a little closer last month with the generous hosting of our monthly Meet & Make in their new shop near Amen Corner. 

Helen brought along the finished shopper trolley started at last months M&M, Jeni whipped up a couple of tiny aprons for her toddler art classes and Martin chatted at length about the possibilities and challenges of starting a social enterprise based on up cycled making.
Elsewhere in the TTT arts story the power of making saw many hands came together to put paint, paper and glue to the Giant Saxophone. The friendly yellow giant was witness to young mums with their children, Pilates teachers, Meet & Makers, local arts practitioners, people claiming that they 'aren't any good at this art stuff' another saying they 'literally hadn't made anything in years' all creating a very pleasing result both visually and in the sense of connecting together.

We have plenty more participatory making planned - please come and get involved, and also do share your ideas for new projects or community groups and partners to join up with. 
Contact us at