For those of you with smartphones, an interesting new app called OLIO is spreading around North London.
It’s a free app which connects neighbours with each other and local shops so that surplus food can be shared – either for sale, or for free – not thrown away.
We’ll be launching OLIO officially in Kentish Town at our Urban Harvest Fest on 26th September, but meanwhile they need people in our area to sign up in advance of a launch.
Check it out at www.olioex.com
The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency has declared that glyphosate – the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Round Up, the world’s most widely used weedkiller – a “probable carcinogen”. With the EU officially reassessing glyphosate at the moment, Avaaz has launched a big petition to “immediately suspend approval of glyphosate”.
Last year we wrote to Cllr Sally Gimson, the sustainability lead at Camden Council, asking them to review the Council’s use of glyphosate on Camden’s streets, parks and estates and consider a proven alternative, a technique called weed steaming which is being used already in Southwark and Kensington & Chelsea. The letter is reproduced below.
We have not yet heard back from the Council and are following up on it now.
Letter to Sally Gimson on glyphosate
27th November 2014
Cllr Sally Gimson
Camden Town Hall
London WC1H 9JE
Re: Glyphosate spraying on Camden’s streets, parks and estates
We are writing from Transition Kentish Town, a community group working to make Kentish Town less dependent on fossil fuels, and a happier, greener and more neighbourly place to live.
We’d like to ask you to re-visit the issue of glyphosate spraying on Camden’s streets, parks and estates, and we can suggest an alternative method of controlling weeds.
There is a growing amount of research that indicates glyphosate is a toxic substance, which persists in the soil, in water and in plants, doing damage for many years.
The bioaccumulative effects of glyphosate have been deliberately downplayed by the herbicide industry. Friends of the Earth Europe commissioned laboratory tests on urine samples from city-dwelling volunteers in 18 countries across Europe – including the UK – and found that 44% of samples contained glyphosate. This was the first time monitoring has been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weed killer in human bodies.
Meanwhile, the weeds that develop glyphosate resistance grow tall and strong. So far, 23 species of new glyphosate-resistant weeds have been recorded, and counting.
We have been told, and have noticed that the street cleaners still do some hand weeding. We would strongly suggest they should be spared the toxic exposure to the glyphosate chemical, and given a little extra time for the hand weeding, or weed steaming (see below). If Camden residents knew of the toxic nature of what is sprayed on their streets, they would certainly tolerate the odd weed.
We have been told that glyphosate has been used “for years” in Camden’s parks and estates. Given the fact that glyphosate bioaccumulates in soil and water, it seems irresponsible to use it in public parks. As for spraying on estates, this is effectively spraying toxic substances in people’s gardens, since that is how estate land is often used. Has anyone spoken to the residents about this? We doubt it.
So here is our proposed alternative: a technique called weed steaming, based on an old method of killing weeds with simple hot water. A London-based company called Weedingtech offers a weed steaming product called Foamstream, which uses no harmful chemicals and is already being used by water companies and councils. In London, the boroughs of Southwark and Kensington & Chelsea are using Foamstream in parks using the contractor Quadron Services.
We ask you to look at this simple alternative and consider putting an end to the use of a toxic substance on Camden’s streets, parks and estates. It is well worth sitting down for a talk with Weedingtech or Quadron Services. We know that budgets are very tight, but there are solutions that can work for Camden financially without sacrificing residents’ health and our environment.
Transition Kentish Town Core Group
On March 7th, five of us gathered at Montpelier Gardens (address here) on a lovely spring morning, tidied up the beds, harvested some lambs’ lettuce (yum) and agreed a planting plan for the season.
Bed 1: Potatoes (two varieties).
Bed 2: Herb bed. Already there & beginning to grow again: feverfew, oregano, chives, mint, sage, lemon balm. Plant: coriander, parsley, fennel, dill, Greek basil, rosemary.
Bed 3 Nettle bed. Runner beans, mangetout, broad beans, yellow courgettes. We were offered gem courgette seeds by a generous resident when she saw us working on the beds! We also have some spaghetti courgette seeds.
Bed 4 Salad bed. Kale, red mustard plants, rocket, chard, spinach, sorrel.
March 21st 10am – the Big Dig
This month, we’ll have two communal sessions, it being a busy time for gardens – the first being 10am on March 21st eg. the Big Dig – please come along! No experience needed, just a willingness to get your hands dirty.
Otherwise we’ll have a communal session the 1st Saturday of the month at 10am. Below is the list of March jobs. If you can pop in & do some work on the beds any time, that would be great.
1. Get some small but sturdy stakes with which to label the plants – very important if starting from seed.
2. Get the potatoes & chit them.
3. Break up chive clumps & spread.
4. Get woodchips for potato bed. Transport from park gate.
5. Start propagating seeds.
Hope to see you soon!
Our popular hop growing project returns for a second year!
The idea is that we all grow hops in our gardens and balconies, we harvest them in the autumn to brew a batch of local beer, then we all drink it together.
Last year we harvested 9kg of hops. We’re hoping to do even better this year!
If you’d like to join in you can buy a hop plant for £12. Place your order using the Paypal button below. We’ll have them ready to pick up in the week of 16th March. Traditional planting day for hops is St Patrick’s Day! We will close the orders on 5th March.
The inaugural Darn It! event took place at the Grafton on a sunny January afternoon in January.
Cake was eaten and Bloody Marys were drunk. Plenty of sewing and darning took place – there were new logos, patchwork jumpers and numerous holes repaired – take that moths! There was a really nice mix of darn pros and rookies so even those with zero experience (come moi) were able to get stuck in. There was even an ‘Embellisher’ (come next time to find out more). What a lovely afternoon!
We can’t wait for the next one – needles at the ready!
Welcome to Power Up North London’s first newsletter!
Back in April, Transition Kentish Town, Transition Tufnell Park and Transition Dartmouth Park joined forces to hold a meeting proposing a community renewable energy project. The aim was to consider how we can generate clean, renewable energy in our area and use any income created to benefit the local community. The meeting had a fantastic turn out and since then a core group of volunteers have come forward to work on making this proposal a reality.
The core group has looked at the various energy sources and organisational structures this community project could incorporate. Overall, the group has decided that installing solar panels on a large community or commercial building would be the most suitable option for a first project, as there are established successful models of community owned solar in London, and these projects can generate income to fund future energy efficiency or generation projects in our community.
We are currently looking for a suitable location and have begun to speak to local businesses and owners of other large buildings who have potential roof space. We want the project to be in the local area so that the local community see the benefits. If you have any ideas for potential locations for a rooftop solar array, please get in touch as we’d like to be speaking to as many people as possible in this early stage.
Power Up North London is seeking an accountant or someone with a financial background to act as our treasurer. If you are interested in the project and willing to give an hour or two a week, please contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Our next major challenge is finding a partner who shares our vision and has suitable roof space for a solar installation. We will also be continuing our research into grant applications and other funding options. When we have a potential project in place we will look to establish ourselves as a community benefit society (BenCom) or similar, for which we will need to appoint a few official board members including a treasurer.
We’d love to hear from you!
While there are a small group of us working on the logistics of this project we want it to remain a community- wide initiative open to everyone. Please share this newsletter widely with those you feel will be interested and don’t hesitate to get in touch with questions and recommendations.
All the best,
Power Up North London
Come along to the Bull Pub this Saturday to the launch event of Belsize Beer, Kentish Town Keg and Primrose Pint where you can sample (at least) one of the 500 pints of locally brewed 4.5% beer!
The Kentish Keg / Belsize Beer / Primrose Pint hop growing project had their first harvest yesterday.
8.7kg of hops from all over the area were brought to The Bull pub and are being brewed today.
We will be sampling the beer in three weeks time!
Meanwhile, we will be growing our hops again next year and there will be another opportunity for new hop growers to get involved.