Saturday, 29 January 2011

Funding success for Brockley Common

Following last years successful transformation of the land next to Brockley Station we are delighted to announce that a joint bid to the Localities Fund by the Brockley Cross Action Group and Transition Brockley has been successful in gaining funds to continue the project at the station.

The project has two distinct elements, which are linked by their location alongside each other at the northern end of Brockley Common, the community-inspired public open space between Coulgate Street and Brockley Station.

1. A community wildflower meadow on the bank above Coulgate Street, at the north end of the site next to the railway bridge.

2. A community fruit & vegetable garden on the level area above and adjoining the bank, at the north end of Brockley Common.

Both elements will be created and maintained by members of Transition Brockley and BXAG and gardening volunteers from the local Brockley community.

The land is currently unused – though the level area was the site of an initial community garden in the summer of 2010 – and is earmarked as the site of the final phase of Brockley Common, comprising a circular performance & seating areas and steps back down to Coulgate Street. At present no funding has been identified for this work so rather than leave the site as wasteland the two Groups wish to combine to create a temporary garden space that will benefit local people and enhance the local environment.

The aims of the project are as follows:


• To promote awareness of the importance of locally grown organic food.
• To put into practice Transition Brockley’s commitment to develop ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and promote a more sustainable low carbon community.
• To implement organic principles to minimise damage to the environment.


• To create a beautiful, colourful & flowery feature in a prominent location that will enhance the local environment for both residents and passing commuters on what is a heavily used road.

Both projects will also encourage local wildlife and in particular attract bees by providing much needed nectar plants. For local volunteers it will provide opportunities to get involved in healthy gardening activities, learn about the growing and harvesting of fruit & vegetables and find out about the principles that underpin the project.

More news on when this gets going on the blog!

Orchard aftercare meeting

Saturday 26th February 2pm Hilly Fields Orchard Site

For all who would like to be involved in helping with the tree and orchard care, we're planning on meeting at the orchard to discuss maintenance.

Watering will be the first priority in dry weather, and we can talk about ground cover planting. There is funding available for a trolley to carry water bottles, so it would be great to identify a committed group of people who can share the 'looking after' together with those who are happy to 'adopt a tree'.

Bring a waterproof to sit on, and if it looks like rain, an alternative venue will be given. More details on that in the reminder email.

Looking forward to seeing you.

We've also got some more pictures sent in by Caroline and Fran some of which can be seen above and others on our Flickr site!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Wæs hal!

Apple-tree, apple-tree,
Bear good fruit,
Or down with your top
And up with your root.
(19th century rhyme from South Hams area)
On Thursday 3rd February 7-7:45pm as a first celebration of the orchard and to wish the trees good health (wassailing) is a custom we'd like to embrace. As we are novices, all ideas are welcome and apart from the description at the end of this email (which probably has the main elements of a good wassail), there is a lot of information and YouTube videos on the internet if you google "wassailing orchards" to find out more. Some people have very elaborate celebrations but I think we can mould our own particular Brockley version. If anyone wants to write a suitable wassail song for new trees (to a familiar tune), that would be great!
Send us your ideas. We're all new to this, so it'll be a fun event to create as a group.

Initial thoughts are for people to bring some warm (apple type of) drink (in thermos) and pieces of toast and something to make a bit of noise (drum, whistle etc), and then we can toast each tree with a splash of warm cider/apple juice, wedge a piece of toast in the wire mesh for the birds, and then have a bit of a bang to scare away any evil spirits or pests which might cause disease. However, we'll collect your ideas and send an email nearer the date with any specifics.

We're meeting up at 7.00pm so that it isn't too late for children to come along.

Each year in January the people of Somerset, Devon, Worcestershire, Sussex and Kent, the traditional cider making areas of England wassail their apple trees to ensure a fine crop of cider apples in the summer ahead.
Apple tree wassailing is an ancient custom that involves drinking to the health of the apple trees. The Anglo-Saxons used the phrase Wæs hal! as an everyday greeting. Wæs is a form of the verb "to be" related to modern English was. Hal is the ancestor of the modern English words whole and hale. Thus, wæs hal literally meant "Be healthy!".

Traditionally the custom involved the local farm-workers visiting the orchard after dark with shotguns, horns, food and a large pail or bowl of cider. Usually the best tree would be selected to represent the whole plantation. Cider would be poured over its roots and pieces of toast, or cakes soaked in cider would be placed in the forks of branches, or impaled on twigs; The wassail song would be sung or chanted as a blessing or charm to bring fruitfulness or even in admonishment not to fail in the coming year.

Following the wassail we will have our first meeting of the year... Mr Lawrence Wine Bar at 8pm to have an informal and open chat/discussion about initiatives for 2011. Topics could include the River of Flowers project (creating Lewisham links to the planned interconnecting chain of meadow and wildflower habitat to help reverse the decline in pollinating insects ), energy saving, recycling, ban on plastic bags or anything that people are passionate about and would like to discuss and/or take action on.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Permaculture Kids' Club

Long time Transition Brockley member Ruth has emailed to tell us of a new monthly workshop that is starting next month. Details below:

Come to Mayow Park (Grow Mayow Community Gardens SE26 ) on the last Sunday of the month for some Kids’ Permaculture, starting this February 27th 2011.

Suriya and Ruth will show you how to ….

…make birdfeeders, plant an edible hedge, grow your own food in fun ways, learn from nature, make useful stuff, play nature games and much more!

Suitable for 8 to 12 year olds. Parents also welcome!

For info email Ruth on or ring /text her on 07766 596600

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Hilly Fields Orchard Planting

 The long-awaited orchard planting finally took place on Saturday with around fifty members of the local community participating. The London Orchard Project with their tree expert, Russell Miller and a couple of assistants from Hackney Harvest brought the trees and equipment and members of Transition Brockley and the Friends of Hilly Fields provided refreshments and support.

Planting in full action

In all seven apple trees were planted, the varieties of which can be found here and they now sit happily on the lower ground alongside the Stone Circle. The next stage of the orchard will be to develop the orchard management plan and set up a meeting to discuss how to go about the watering and maintenance duties. A few people expressed an interest in adopting a tree and any others wishing to do so can email us and we will get back to you with details.

One group with their completed tree
Thanks to those who helped make the day run smoothly:

The London Orchard Project and their helpers; Prendergast Hilly Fields College for lending us some tables to set up the refreshments on; Keith, the park keeper for letting us use his facilities to heat up refreshments and Glendale for providing the mulch; Erin from the Broca for lending us some equipment to heat up the soup and drinks; the refreshment crew who made apple soup, hot spiced apple juice, cakes, dried apple rings and for serving them up to hungry participants!

Finally a big thank you to all who came whether you watched or took part it was fantastic to see so many of the local community coming together to do something positive and hopefully very rewarding.

The refreshments went down very well!

The completed planting
There are lots more photos of the day on our Flickr site. In the meantime we will keep you updated on the progress of the trees on this blog and add more photos as they come.

We briefly discussed an informal wassailing event to celebrate the orchard sometime in February so do look out for details of that in due course.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Orchard Planting on Saturday

Everyone is welcome to join in with the planting of a small apple orchard on Hilly Fields (next to the Stone Circle) from 11.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday 15 January. This will be the first community orchard in a major park in the borough of Lewisham and we, from Transition Lewisham/Brockley are delighted to be initiating this project, together with the Friends of Hilly Fields and the London Orchard Project, with funding from Capital Growth and support from Lewisham Council and Glendale.

The orchard is being planted to promote the growing of fruit locally (in an area which previously had many fruit orchards), to provide habitat for wildlife, and for people to enjoy.

It will be a family activity day, and as well as the digging, planting, composting, mulching and treeguard staking, apple-themed refreshments will be available (mulled apple juice, apple soup and apple cakes).

We will be looking for volunteers to help maintain the orchard after the planting so if you are interested then please speak to one of us on the day. We look forward to seeing you there!