Com Café is a social hub in West Drayton that Grow Heathrowers are proud to be connected with. Serving a range of favourite comfort foods is only a small part of the many attributes that make Com Café great; in the last year Com Café and Grow Heathrow have shared a number of projects made possible by Com Café’s truly unique combination of family fun and community outreach.
In the cool spring air diligently digging beds, Com Café volunteers brought to life a number of raised beds along the pathways of Grow Heathrow. As part of this, Com Café and Grow Heathrow put on a children’s day, hanging out in the woods and playing games in nature before settling down to plant sunflower seeds, seeds to give away in the community garden and learn about gardening. Com Café’s raised beds flourished as the weather got warmer, tomatoes, vegetables and calendula flowers, as well as a mysterious perennial potato burst into bloom and abundance.
Moving into the summer it was our turn to pay Com Café a visit, every other Wednesday Grow Heathrow would collect fresh fruit and vegetables from the market and deliver these goods by bike-trailer to the café. At Com Café meals packed with your five-a-day were given freely to anyone who arrived to make use of the food bank.
On a weekend forecast for rain, we prayed for sunshine as the community came together for Com Café’s summer fair. Many community groups gathered, with games, music and stalls. Grow Heathrow did a traditional brick making workshop, potted-up plants and made smoothies on our trusty bike-smoothie-maker. Music boomed out of the café onto the green where the kids of West Drayton had a whale of a time. At the end of the day all were happy and satisfied. Com Café truly shines out as one of the best places in West Drayton, taking initiative at every step of the way.
Back at Grow Heathrow the sunflowers planted in the spring by energy filled kids from Com Café flourished a sign of good things to come in the next year for friendship between Grow Heathrow and Com Café.
How would you like to help Grow Heathrow prepare for the cold months ahead, whilst also having an amazingly fun time?
Why not come to our 4 day winter preparation retreat from Thursday 5th November – Sunday 8th November.
Featuring: Eco-shower block building, insulating with hemp-crete (and other exciting materials), making woodburners from ‘rubbish’, winter veg bed prep….
not forgetting: bonfires, yoga, meditation, herbal teas, music, dancing, fun and laughter.
All on a donation basis .
Food and sleeping space provided. Let us know if you would like us to reserve you one, otherwise feel free to bring a tent
Come for as many or as few days ars you like
This is open for everyone, all levels of experience welcome.
More details to follow
Hope to see you there!
Volunteers from Grow Heathrow were delighted to be invited to join friends of Cranford Park for a traditional-style wassailing in their abundant orchard. Trees sagged, heavy with apples- it had been a grand summer for orchards, hot and then soaking, the best conditions for growing fruit. The tree bearing the most delicious crisp and sweet apples had fallen to the side because it was so heavy, and beside him, another tree had a bed of fallen and rotting apples below, with branches still beholden with more golden and red fruit.
A crowd of Wassailers gathered beneath the trees harvesting the apples in a sheet, aided with a hoe to reach the higher branches. When we finally reached the chosen tree a blushing variety out of the forty seven in the orchard (with excellent names like ‘joybells’, ‘orange goff’ or ‘cats head’), we gathered in a circle and rustled song sheets in our hands reading a song to sing to the abundant little tree before us.
Oh little apple tree, We have come to wassail thee, Will you bare some fruit for me, When the season changes!
We practiced the song, excellently sang to us by Robert, who led the wassail, and despite claiming to be tone deaf, he conducted the enthusiastic choir tunefully. The fiddlers (violinists) from Grow Heathrow joined in, playing the traditional tune. Altogether the crowd of wassailers gifted the tree a treat of bread and cider, hung in the branches for the tree to drink. In the UK there are over two thousand varieties, but many are forgotten as consuming habits normalise some apples and allow others to become obscure.
Following the wassail, all congregated in Cranford Park’s secret garden for a cup of tea and some cake home made to raised money for the Macmillan Charity. Delicious mulled cider was served and apples harvested that morning were pressed into fresh flavourful apple juice. Fiddlers continued to play and enjoyed a cup of mulled cider and cherry cake for their efforts before cycling back to Grow Heathrow.
Did you know that the full moon closest to the Autumn Equinox is known as the Harvest Moon? This year’s, on the night of the 27th-28th September, caused a stir as not only was it an usually large “super-moon”, but a “blood moon”, created by a lunar eclipse.
Also causing a stir that weekend was Grow Heathrow’s very first Harvest Festival! Finally, after 5 years of working the land, we took time to relax, celebrate, and give thanks for an excellent year of growing.
Harvest is traditionally a time of year when the community comes together and our festival was no exception, with everyone on site getting involved with preparations, and people converging from across the Heathrow villages and beyond. Stop Heathrow Expansion (SHE) took the chance to educate visitors on the ongoing fight against the planned third runway at Heathrow with their excellent info stand run by volunteers.
The whole site got in the spirit of handmade, with Grow Heathrow holding a fundraising stall selling coasters made from sustainable cherry wood, handmade jewellery, and delicious jam made from wild damsons found growing in Heathrow hedgerows. Other goodies included handmade herbal teabags, and a herbal poultice workshop where visitors could learn to make a soothing calendula cream from flowers grown on site. An onsite artist painted a portrait of the Spirit of Harvest on a reclaimed plywood pallet, watched and encouraged by onlookers. We also hosted a guess the weight of the pumpkin competition, starring a pumpkin from our raised beds, which encouraged a range of punts from 150g to 12kg, with the beast of a vegetable finally weighing in at a whopping 7.4kg!
The campaign against the 3rd runway at Heathrow. That was the talking point in the afternoon open discussion. Grow Heathrow, initially established to build local resilience and instil an ethos of resistance against the airport, continues to be a focal point in mobilising creative action against the airport. Input from John Stewart (HACAN), Christine Taylor (SHE) and Sheila Menon (Plane Stupid) followed an impassioned debate on where we are in the campaign, and next steps towards smashing the proposals for a runway at Heathrow, Gatwick, or anywhere.
Easy to do Calendula Ointment and Rosehip Syrup workshop at the Harvest Festival
Following the stimulating talks of the afternoon a small crowd gathered in Grow Heathrow’s woods beside the apothecary to make immunity boosting and skin nourishing treats with plants found all around Grow Heathrow.
Calendula flowers Extra Virgin Olive Oil Organic Bees Wax
Firstly we started the small rocket stove that sits happily on a table top and whilst Finn stoked the fire, a group of children broke calendula flowers into pieces into a pan of olive oil. When making this ointment we harvest as many calendula flowers as will fit in the pan, making the beneficial attributes of the flowers as potent as possible in our final balm. Although traditionally one should only harvest a third of one’s wild crop, calendula flowers benefit from vigorous harvesting and can flower into late autumn when regularly harvested. Bringing the oil and flower mixture to a simmer over the stove, volunteers stirred the potion whilst others browsed through books or explored the shelves of Grow Heathrow’s apothecary. When the oil was well infused with the calendula petals we strained the mixture through a sieve, leaving the well wrung out petals to one side (sometimes we eat them). Then we brought the golden mixture back onto the heat to melt bees wax. The ratio that we currently find works well is a 10:1 ratio of oil:bees wax, meaning that the ointment sets well at room temperature.
After the wax had melted each person poured a little of the ointment into a jar to take home. Some people added lavender oil for the extra healing benefits. Allow the ointment to cool before placing on the lid.
Benefits and suggested uses of Calendula ointment:
anti-inflammatory,antimicrobial, astringent, antifungal,antiviral, and immunostimulant properties, for disinfecting and treating minor wounds, conjunctivitis, cuts, scrapes, chapped or chafed skin, bruises, burns, athlete’s foot and acne.
Rosehips Water sugar
Grabbing a fresh pan we filled the pan with rosehips, up to the top, and then half-filled the pan with water. We boiled this for about forty minutes. Dinner was called, and as was suggested in the recipe we left the decoction to cool for another twenty minutes. When making this recipe at home if you have a food blender, prior to boiling use a blender to make the fruit into smaller pieces, this way you get even more nutrition for your labour, but be sure that when you strain the fruit this way you don’t get any of the little fibers in your drink as they are rather itchy. I’d advise you to strain through a t-shirt. As we hadn’t blended our rosehips, we mashed them through a sieve collecting the maroon juice to reheat and stir in the sugar. An easy to remember rosehip syrup recipe is simple: use half the amount of water as you have rosehips, and add sugar to the tune of half of the amount of liquid you produce from your rosehip infused water.
We sat around in the fading light, and drank different teas, and tasted healing mixtures such as the rosehip syrup, as well as elderberry syrup from earlier in the season. Rosehip syrup welcomes flavourings such as cinnamon or other spices. At Grow Heathrow we have been enjoying the simplicity of the pure rosehip flavour. Whilst the liquid is still hot, place a lid on top and wrap in a scarf or blanket, doing this is seal the jar meaning that there is no need to boil the jars as is often the tradition.
Benefits of Rosehip Syrup:
Stomach spasms, stomach acid deficiency, preventing stomach irritation, ulcers diarrhoea, constipation, gallstones, gallbladder ailments, lower urinary tract and kidney disorders, fluid retention, gout, sciatica, diabetes, high cholesterol, weight loss, high blood pressure, chest ailments, fever, increasing immune function during exhaustion, increasing blood flow in the limbs and vitamin C boost.
It wouldn’t be a proper harvest festival without feasting, and our fantastic activist chefs did not disappoint. Throughout the day our wood fuel pizza oven was roaring away, perfectly cooking the kind of artisan pizza even East London foodie purists would bow to. Slaving away over a hot stove in the kitchen, another team of chefs churned out several vegan dishes for dinner. Judging by the clean plates and happy guests, dinner was a winner.
Our festival wound down as night fell, and as the stars above came out, so did our musical stars for the open mic night. What better way to end a day of celebration in the sunshine and a summer than with a belly full of homemade ginger beer, and ears full of live music?
See you all at the winter solstice…
Harts Residency – A process of Unlearning
You are invited to take part in a creative and nourishing residential experience at community project Grow Heathrow.
Friday 13th – Sunday 22nd of November ** RSVP by Monday 26th October **
What will be involved: Collective living, sharing skills, space to develop personal work, collaborative creativity, inner reflection, long term sustainability, nature, supporting the Grow Heathrow community and surrounding Heathrow villages. The residency will include some workshops, (eg. Permaculture, using art to create social change) morning and evening sessions to share, reflect and develop ideas, a final project in the wider community and space for people to shape the structure themselves.
Food, sleeping space, facilities, workshop space and materials will be provided. There will also be regular integrated but optional wellbeing sessions such as yoga, meditation and massage. Participants will be involved in the tasks that make daily living at Grow Heathrow possible.
From visual art or performance, to social sculpture, or learning the deep art of making perfect compost from our poo, any range of artistic practice is welcomed, as long as it is aligned to the aims of the project.
Participants are asked to make a contribution to help make all of this possible. Suggested donation £20 to £40 for the 10 days but you are invited to pay less or more, depending on what you can afford. Where will the residency be held: The residency will be based at Grow Heathrow, a squatted land project, run off-grid from renewable energy with activities such as food growing, bike mechanics and inner wellbeing.
Grow Heathrow is set up in support of local community, which is heavily impacted by the airport and the threat of its expansion. Participants will sleep in a communal guest cabin, there is also an option of bringing a tent if you prefer.
Although the residency will be based at Grow Heathrow, partiicpants are encouraged to develop ideas that also connect with the wider village and community. When will the residency be held: The residency will last 10 days (13th-22nd Nov) and participants are invited to come for the duration.
If you cannot come for this long, you are welcome to join from Friday 19th to Sunday 22nd November for the final community based project.
If you are interested, RSVP by phone or email, and include an explanation about what you think this experience can bring for you and what you can offer the rest of the group, Grow Heathrow and the wider Heathrow villages, (no longer than half an a4 page). Please express interest by Monday 26th October
The Alternative Press team are building and celebrating the last and final phase of A Room of One’s Own (AROOO) at Grow Heathrow Saturday 17th October! Come and join us for a live build, zine workshops, walks, yoga, music, open mic, and a bonfire party at sunset!
The itinerary for the day;
11am to 2pm – AROOO gets built!
2-3pm – Lunch!
3-6pm – Walks, workshops, yoga, meditation, open mic, music, drawing on AROOO…
Sunset + BONFIRE PARTY! poetry readings, potential sleepover
Feel free to bring food and drink! And donations kindly welcome!
It only makes sense that a sculpture aimed to raise awareness on the need for safe and inclusive space ends up at Grow Heathrow, where the community will continue to use it not only as an additional greenhouse, but a space to represent and champion the cause of the local community.
Join us for our day long celebration and party.
And get to meet the lovely residents at Grow Heathrow!
Love all round
Perhaps on one of the last sunny days of the summer a Hounslow based gardening group visited Grow Heathrow to join in with creative gardening workshops.
Together we gathered herbs to make herbal teas, learning about the health benefits of the different plants that grow wild (and even sometimes as weeds in your garden!) Thus the morning started with enjoying cups of tea and absorbing the essence of healing herbs in Grow Heathrow’s meadow.
Before the group had arrived, volunteers from Grow Heathrow explored the site finding edible flowers and filling a treasure chest with calendula, rose petals, chive flowers, borage, mallow and many more ready for the main session of the morning: edible flower mandala making.
In our straw-bale house, everyone got together with plates to make edible flower mandalas upon. It’s surprising how many different flowers are good to eat, together we talked about the flowers, how lovely they were and started to make patterns on the plate. By the end each mandala had a different characteristic reflecting the artistic flair of the gardeners. Now, for the best bit: eating the mandala! By design, mandalas are never built to last, instead the fleeting beauty reminds us of the impermanence of things; by focusing on the flowers whilst creating the mandalas, and then erasing the patterns by eating them we are also experiencing the bloom and wilt cycle that leads to the flowers making seeds.
We hope at Grow Heathrow, the Hounslow Gardening Group received seeds of inspiration to see flowers are more than ornaments and weeds are more useful than just a nuisance! Everything that grows has a use.
Grow Heathrow, who have occupied land in the Heathrow villages since 2010, were given a stay of execution as the court was adjourned until the summer of 2016.
The Shadow Chancellor arrived at Uxbridge County Court this morning to show his continued support for the anti-third runway occupation.
Mr. McDonnell handed in a statement which read “Members of Grow Heathrow have become part of the local community, making a valuable contribution to the life of the local villages. Grow Heathrow is part of a fierce community resistance to Heathrow’s expansion that won’t go away easily for any government. I commend this group to you and hope that its members will be able to continue to remain on this site and part of our community.”
We have a court case approaching. Lewdown Holdings Limited (registered in the British Virgin Islands . . . .), at their antics again, are attempting to remove us from the community project that you and we have worked together to establish for five and a half years. We are going to court to defend “the backlands”, and it is possible that an eviction notice will be served, putting the whole of Grow Heathrow under threat of immediate eviction.
Although the land under question is designated green belt land, the owners have submitted a planning application for the Sipson Village Garden Centre site (ref 67666/APP/2015/2413) which shows no intention of maintaining the land for agricultural use.
A solidarity demonstration has been organised to show support for the defendants, gathering from 9:00 outside Uxbridge County Court on Thursday 17th September.
By public transport, ride buses 90, 195 or H98 from Hayes and Harlington station, or the 427 or 607 from Ealing Broadway. The address is: 501 Uxbridge Road, Hayes, London UB4 8HL.
A friendly cheer for those in court would be welcomed. Grow Heathrow is happily volunteering our beds and a cup of tea in the morning to anyone who may travel from further afield. We’ll be having a mass bike ride from Grow Heathrow to the court in the morning, with music, singing and dance. We’ll be leaving site around 8 am on Thursday morning.