Posted: January 26th, 2016 | Author: Ali | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Winter is often seen as a time for rest and reflection. For many mammals it’s a time to make a nice warm den and hibernate for a few months, getting ready for the year ahead.
At Grow Heathrow, we’re often lured in to the traps of modern life – always doing, doing, doing and doing some more. This can all get a bit much and lead to burn out.
So, in an attempt to counter this, we’ve decided we’re going to hibernate for the month of February. This means we won’t be accepting any new volunteers for this period, in order to allow us to reflect on the past year, build the relationships within the already existing group and have a bit of a rest.
You’re still more than welcome, however, to visit us during the day, come to our workshops and events, and make suggestions for workshops for the coming months.
Also, in the first week of March – we’d love you to come and stay in order to help us get ready for our 6th Birthday celebrations!
Posted: January 17th, 2016 | Author: Ali | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Can you believe it?!! We’ve nearly made it to our 6th Birthday at Grow Heathrow!
To celebrate this amazing achievement there will be many a festivity on this fine first weekend of March, 4th-6th (and especially Saturday the 5th!)
Expect the usual…. cakes, music, dancing, skipped feasts, wellbeing, workshops, off-grid party and mischief…
and also the unusual…. Non-weddings (open to all), performance art, tree planting and more…
We are currently in the planning stages, and would really love to hear from people who would like to help shape this event – if you would like to offer a workshop, talk, performance…or anything that you think could contribute to the celebration do get in touch via:
There will be talks and workshops in the Spring following the birthday so feel free to get in touch even if you can’t make the date.
Posted: January 16th, 2016 | Author: Ali | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
At Grow Heathrow we’re totally off grid for electricity, we get all our energy from wind and solar.
Our energy system was designed and built a few years ago, when the project was much smaller. As our community project continues to grow, we need to expand our enegry systems to allow us to keep doing the work we’re doing.
We’ve got a crowdfunding campaign to allow this to happen and we’d love your support!
If you can’t afford to donate – it’s still a big help to share the link to spread the word.
Also, we always need non-financial support. Right now we could really use:
Thanks for all the support!
Love Grow Heathrow x
Posted: December 20th, 2015 | Author: finnmc | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
A while ago we asked you all to object to a planning application for developing most of the land Grow Heathrow is on.
THANKYOU to everyone who supported us in getting this planning application refused.
At least 72 objections were made to this proposal. This is greenbelt land and this is at least the 3rd time the land owners have had their development plans refused.
The proposed development was refused on 14/12/2015.
Details of the application can be found here: http://w10.hillingdon.gov.uk/OcellaWeb/planningDetails?reference=67666%2FAPP%2F2015%2F2413&from=planningSearch
The reasons for refusal included:
- Loss of green belt land with no very special circumstances.
- Detriment of ecological value and air quality, noise issues.
- Residential development of this land would be contrary to local, London Plan and national policy.
- Failure by the owners to provide contributions towards improvement of off-site facilities needed due to increased demands caused by the development.
- Failed to show how the development would comply with energy/ sustainable design policies.
- Failed to legally show that affordable housing would be provided.
Come celebrate the Winter Solstice with us tomorrow night (Monday)! Music, Fire and Food!
Posted: December 15th, 2015 | Author: finnmc | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
For 4 days in November Grow Heathrow had a much appreciated boost of energy, with volunteers coming from around the country to muck in. Walls of the new shower block were built and other walls were insulated with hempcrete, stoves were also made. Fun was had. We used hempcrete, which is an amazing insulating building material which makes good use of natural materials which should be easy to get hold of: if not then you need to make friends with a hemp farmer.
Hempcrete is breathable, damp-free, insulating, thermal mass, and sequesters carbon – incase CO2 levels are on your mind. It is light-weight, free from toxic synthetic chemicals and long lived – even been discovered in a 6th century French construction. Our method of making hempcrete involves only hemp and clay. Most of the UK is abundant in clay, especially London: why not make a wildlife pond or a compost toilet and dig out the clay in the process? The clay is mixed with water to until it makes a texture a bit like yoghurt, and any rocks are discarded. The stalks of the hemp plant are separated into the inner woody material – known as shiv – and the outer fibres by rubbing against a metal grid. For hempcrete, it is the shiv which is used. At Grow Heathrow we use a bathtub and a metal grid from a bunk bed, all reclaimed materials of course. The two ingredients are mixed together by hand, in the bath and are then packed down into the walls of your chosen building with a bit of wood. No money is needed, or specialist equipment, just a bit of patience. Usually lime is used in place of clay, but we use what we have.
Hemp is probably the most useful plant in the world, with the potential to make into clothes, medicine, food, drink, houses, cars, fuel, paper and plastic. This means an end to mass deforestation, reducing global pollution and radiation, even a cure for many health problems. The seeds are rich in protein, omega 3, fibre and amino acids. It also therefore could make many profitable and powerful industries entirely unnecessary. Growing hemp is not illegal in the UK if you use a license, and it will stabilise and detoxify your soil. It can be grown easily with no pesticides, or fertilisers. Please check out this crowd-funding campaign with our good friend Joe who was nice enough to donate lots of bales of hemp to us! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=My0Yrduk9Qw
This incredible plant has been demonised and illegalised due to its close relation to cannabis but varieties of these plants have been used as a medicine for at least 5000 years. A man from Canada has spent years researching the medicinal use of hemp oil; this link is a video he made of his story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmYNLNF7NBw (Run from the Cure).
Thanks to everyone who came to help out and learn natural building techniques with us!
Posted: December 1st, 2015 | Author: Eddy Gums | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Posted: November 14th, 2015 | Author: Eddy Gums | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
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.
Posted: October 20th, 2015 | Author: Eddy Gums | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
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.
Posted: October 19th, 2015 | Author: Eddy Gums | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
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.
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.
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…
Posted: August 15th, 2015 | Author: Tree | Filed under: Action, Cool Projects, Education, Events, Foraging, Uncategorized | No Comments »
Saturday 5th September from 1pm – 5pm
The Elderberry (sambucus nigra) has long been treasured for its anti-viral properties. It ripens towards the end of summer in good time for the cold wet months ahead. This workshop will focus on Winter immunity, discovering herbs that can be harvested and preserved for the coming months, the elderberry medicines you’ll make will help keep you flu free all winter..
Workshop will include:
Herbal tea tasting and discussion – meeting our medicinal friends face-to-face.
An informative herb walk around site, with highlight at the apothecary, focusing on immunity and Winter preparations.
Practical medicine making – Elderberry immune tonic and Elderberry balsamic vinegar – lets get juicy!
Ritual journeying with a herb.
What you need to bring:
Jam Jars (at least 2)
Notebook and pen
Secateurs or penknife
Basket or the like
Meet 1pm at Grow Heathrow, Vineries Close, Sipson. UB7 0JH
This is a free workshop but donations to site are welcome.