Making Change in How We Live, Where We Live, in Light of Climate Change (FOR TWELVE YEARS!)

Monday, 24 August 2015

Snapshots from the CARAS Open Day in Tooting

TTT is looking forward to our new partnership project with CARAS and the RHS 'Greening Grey Britain' campaign (see our 18th Aug post below). To help launch 'Rooting in Tooting', we joined in at the CARAS Open Day at All Saints' Church, Tooting. 
It was a very welcoming day for the extended CARAS family, where many people knew each other and came to chat in the sun (or find some shade), or play outdoors. 
We had a brilliant lunch made by The Chickpea Sisters (who'll be at the Tooting Foodival on Sun 13th Sept). There was music, dancing...& some diverse growing action.

Chris was flat out sowing seeds and playing with mud:
Chris plus seed sowers
Making mud seed bombs


Threshing and winnowing wheat grown in the Tooting Community Garden: we took the heads of wheat and did the steps used round the world for thousands of years (and which are still in our language even if we've never seen it happen). 
So, Seamus found helpers for threshing to separate the wheat grains from the heads, and then winnowing the resulting mix to remove the chaff:

Bashing bags on the ground...
...or jumping up and down on them

Then, with the right puff, the chaff blows away
Flicking up the chaff to catch the wind: experts!

We also gathered great ideas in several languages for what to consider growing in the project: for food, for health, for beauty, and for nature:
Thanks to all (of all ages) at the open day for getting so involved! 
Plus, we're grateful to Chris and Sophie from the RHS, and to Seamus, Jenny and Chuck from TTT, and all at CARAS. More news as 'Rooting in Tooting' develops.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Young people’s garden project leads to Rooting in Tooting

If you’ve walked past the Derinton Community Centre in Tooting recently, you may have noticed vibrant yellow planters bursting with colourful flowers, where rubbish used to reside, and young people sitting on bright benches doing their homework.
Those young people, who attend the CARAS youth club on the site, worked with a team from Transition Town Tooting to build the planters and the benches and paint them over a number of weeks. They sowed seeds early on in the project and also chose plants that now grow there, during a visit to Share Community Garden

The project came about after the youth club made a visit to Tooting Community Garden.  This led to the idea of the teenagers creating an urban garden on-site over eight weekly Saturday sessions.
"Before this, I didn't know how to plant and grow plants, but I learned how, and I enjoyed making the planter too", said Waseem, one of the young people who transformed the space.
CARAS (previously Klevis Kola) is a community based organisation working with refugees and asylum seekers.  The gardening project was developed with the young people, encouraging teamwork and communication, developing and practicing new skills and meeting new people in the wider community.

Jenny Teasdale, who coordinated Transition Town Tooting’s involvement said,
“Working with these young people over the last couple of months has been wonderful. Together, we imagined the possibilities of an urban garden, creating a mood board of ideas, and then we made some of those ideas a reality.

Everyone planted seeds in the first few weeks and the kids tended them throughout, watching sunflowers, beans and salad leaves growing, ready to be planted out in the final weeks. With wooden materials from the community garden, the kids cut, assembled and painted planters and benches – making design decisions on the fly and developing new skills along the way. As a group, we decided what plants to grow and where to site what we built.

I know I wasn’t the only person sad to see the project come to an end, having enjoyed every second of the process. At the same time, we are all really happy to see the transformation in just two short months.”
CARAS Youth Coordinator, Molly Abraham spoke about the project,
"The gardening project with TTT has been a fantastic opportunity for young people who attend CARAS to gain skills, share knowledge and create something we are all extremely proud of.  It's been amazing to watch the group grow in confidence as they became proficient with drills, saws and secateurs, and to relax into sharing stories of growing in their home countries.  Working with the wonderful team from TTT has been a real pleasure for all of us and we are excited to be able to develop the work, and the friendships, over the coming year."
"We painted the pallet planter and the yellow planter, and I sowed flowers and beans. They're still growing", said Hafso, shown here painting.
Spurred on by the development of the space and the enthusiasm of the youth group, we are delighted to announce that CARAS and Transition Town Tooting are now working in partnership with the RHS over the next year, running monthly sessions with the youth club and adults at CARAS.

The new project is called Rooting in Tooting, and is part of the RHS’s Greening Grey Britain scheme. We’ll be developing more flourishing, attractive growing ideas that will transform the site.  This practical, experiential project is just one of the ways CARAS is helping newly-arrived people to integrate into the vibrant community of Tooting.

Sunday, 16 August 2015

What's that? Tooting Foodival... just a month away!

That's right. It's less than a month until South London's favourite sustainable food festival - Tooting Foodival!

Over on the Foodival blog, we're ramping up the announcements - letting you know about all the great things that will be happening over the weekend, and all the great people who make Foodival the glorious local festival that it is.

Just this week, we've announced five local restaurants who are cooking for Foodival... and there will be more to come next week!

Can you donate produce to Foodival?

As well as the wonderful cooks, we couldn't dish up over 600 servings to you hungry folk, without the generosity and talents of all the people growing delicious vegetables, fruit and herbs, who donate their produce to be cooked up overnight.

If you grow anything, or you know a grower, you can donate to Foodival... every salad leaf counts!

Add what you're growing to the map! Share it with your friends. Download some flyers and dish them out to growers all around the area.

We can't wait to see you all in just 4 short weeks!

Friday, 14 August 2015

Shelter - the theme for our 5th Tooting Field Day

On Sunday August 2nd we focused on Shelter.  
Each family Field Day safari has a theme that's about enjoying the local outdoors, creativity and also low-carbon living. We've explored Travel, Water, Nature and more...and had a lot of fun together, and discovered parts of Tooting we didn't know at all.

What did we do?
In the first part of the afternoon we met at Sprout Community Arts and made insect hotels out of re-purposed plastic bottles and cardboard (yes, packaging from Dan's kitchen furniture). 

These shelters are designed for ladybirds and lacewing flies - both are welcome predators on aphids. The results were fantastic!  Brilliantly decorated, with ideas zipping around the tables as children and adults thought of new techniques, and showed them off, and copied. Lucky bugs...we made over 3 dozen shelters.

The second part of the Field Day continued the theme. 
We walked to Tooting Graveney Common and built shelters and dens from willow branches (kindly donated by Lambeth Council).  Again, the creativity and healthy competitiveness that everyone displayed was inspiring. People also commented how much fun it was to hang out and play in the woods. 

After a picnic (courtesy of Pooja, Arena and The Collective Dairy) certificates were awarded to the best dens in different categories by our young judges Dominic and Benji.
At the end we followed the 'leave no trace principle', dismantling all the dens (after we’d taken photos to remember them by!).

But what's this on Airbnb? 

One of the bottle shelters may have been left behind!

It sleeps 16...and has 8 bathrooms...look it up and check out the spec.

And look out for other Shelter-themed surprises you may find in Furzedown and Tooting - let us know what you spot. Including any sleeping ladybirds

Thanks very much to all the helpers who prepared and led this wonderful day, and to participants for your energy!

The last Field Day is on September 13th, part of the Tooting Foodival. There's going to be a giant pea ... all the info is available online here. All welcome, all ages, and it's free.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

POSTPONED: Foodival Meet & Make (was tonight)

The Meet & Make that was planned for tonight at Sprout has been postponed and moved to a new venue.

We will now be making for the Foodival on Weds 19th August at Streatham Cemetery from 6:30 - 8:30

Check the calendar and/or contact Jeni at for info or to let her know if you would like to come.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Carbon Conversations - the final session... for now!

Over the last six weeks, we've run a series of workshops called Carbon Conversations, to help a small group of people learn about the steps they can take to reduce their carbon footprint, and investigate why some steps are harder than others.

We're looking to run another series in October, so if you'd like to find out more or even sign up, please do get in touch. You can find out more about the workshops here.

Martin Cobley is one of the participants. He's an active community gardener and a member of Transition Town Tooting, who has taken a lot of steps recently to live more sustainably. Here, he sums up the final session of Carbon Conversations.

I’ve been reflecting on one of the topics of last week’s final session: where next in my journey to lower carbon living? After a short exercise reviewing the areas we’d covered in the series – energy, travel, food and recycling, consumption – and some interesting suggestions such as eating only food in season; insulating between floorboards to reduce home energy bills; using local takeaways to reduce unnecessary travel, I’m drawn to the idea of getting a bike. I’m fitter and healthier now that I walk as much as I can, and I’m impressed by the folding bikes a couple of the participants have used to get to the venue. Hmmm… but it’s decades since I’ve ridden one and then it was on quiet suburban roads, no busy London traffic.

Next we played the Climate Walk game: mentally moving through the century thinking about the consequences for global warming of personal choices, such as giving up flying (a difficult one for some of the participants) and the things governments might do such as compulsory land purchase for growing food, or setting personal carbon quotas. Very thought-provoking: I can see that large-scale government action sooner than later could really make a significant difference. Although I happily sign online petitions from the likes of Avaaz, 38 degrees and Sum of Us for all sorts of climate-related issues, I’ve never been particularly interested in Politics (with a capital P). Logically it’s something I should be doing and I imagine joining in one of the many events which will no doubt be organised around the Paris 2015 talks later this autumn… But is this really my kind of thing? Can’t see myself enjoying it.

The session ended with a delicious and very healthy supper: everyone brought a low carbon dish, whether home cooked, locally grown or foraged from a school kitchen (with permission in case you were wondering). The conversation picked up some of the threads we touched on earlier: how hard making lifestyle sacrifices can be and having friends think you’re weird; how difficult to talk to climate change deniers without evidence; how to get more Carbon Conversations going? (Could we get a pro-environment character into EastEnders?!). Then, way past the scheduled finish time (I don’t think anyone wanted to leave), farewells at the door and arrangements to meet up again soon.

So a week later and where next? Neither the bike idea nor going on a demo fills me with enthusiasm. I’ve pushed my comfort zone quite hard recently with some of the lifestyle changes I’ve made – mainly on my own – and some still feel a bit fragile. I think I need something upbeat whilst they bed in. I remember the spirit of camaraderie at the supper; I’m enjoying physical activity… Got it! I shall try learning ballroom dancing! At a party recently I’d chatted to a very lively and energetic person who turned out to be a teacher at a local dance centre. I was immediately drawn to her. And it turned out that several friends-of-friends went to her beginners classes. Low cost, healthy, sociable and fun, plus it doesn’t matter if I’m a complete duffer. And there’s a perfect place to practise waltzing , a private corner of my local community garden!