Posted: April 30th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Foraging | Tags: food, sustainability, wild food | No Comments »
Free wild food workshops are thriving every Friday at Grow Heathrow, from 2 to 5pm.
Friday 10th: cow parsley tabouleh
Learn how to safely tell cow parsley (anthriscus sylvestris) apart from its deadly poisonous lookalike hemlock (conium maculatum) and fool’s parsley (aethusa cynapium). Then make the world’s best tabouleh, bursting with vitamin-C-packed cow parsley.
Friday 17th: burdock roots workshop
Learn how to identify burdock roots, which are best harvested in early spring or late autumn, and whip up a delicious and nutritous meal that’s wild and free.
Friday 24th: garlic mustard saerkraut
Sound too good to be true? No – and it’s free. We’ll learn how to ID wild garlic mustard (alliaria petiolata) and then make its leaves into a gourmet wild saerkraut.
Friday 21st June: solstice celebration: elderflower champagne
This one needs no introduction: it’s the one we’ve all been waiting for. The big event of the Grow Heathrow wild food calendar. Elderflower (sambucus nigra) scrumping, here we come.
Posted: April 18th, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Cool Projects, Education, Energy, Events | Tags: climate change, energy, peak oil, resistance, sustainability | No Comments »
The Energy Group at Grow Heathrow is kicking of a series of Sustainable Technology training days with a workshop on how to build your own generator from scratch – Saturday 27th April at 11am – 6pm
The small Wind Turbine that was kindly donated by one of our supporters isn’t quite up to scratch for our battery bank. We need to make some new windings, so what better opportunity to share our knowledge than by inviting people to come and share in the experience.
We’ll be going through winding our own coils with ceramic coated wire, setting the magnets in resin and then configuring the coils to produce energy as the magnets pass.
The workshop will be accompanied by a delicious lunch. Donations gratefully accepted where possible. Check out our Facebook event or email us at email@example.com for more information.
Come on down to Grow Heathrow to get skilled up for the Self Empowered Energy Revolution!
Posted: April 3rd, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Events, Foraging | Tags: food, foraging, harmondsworth, Hayes, sustainability, wild food | No Comments »
On Wild Food Mondays, visitors to Grow Heathrow have already learnt how to make cherry plum blossom tea, chickweed salads, and horseradish sauce. Now, on 22 April, we’re hosting a day dedicated to wild chervil (anthriscus sylvestris), also known as cow parsley.
Learn how to tell it apart from its poisonous lookalikes hemlock and fools parsley, so you can avoid the death that Socrates suffered at hemlock’s hands. And discover this extremely common plant’s potential for tabouleh, plus experiment with lacto-fermenting some in brine. Bring a bike for the foraging; after learning the key ID features, we’re cycling to the lake to test out our skills telling it apart from its lookalikes and to gather basketfuls!
The wild chervil wild food workshop runs from 2 – 5pm on Monday 22 April. It is free to everyone, but a donation of £5 is welcome from people who can afford it. Any donations will go towards Grow Heathrow getting a new chainsaw to help process timber for our off-grid wood powered shower and burners.
Posted: April 2nd, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Cool Projects, Education, Events | Tags: straw bale house, sustainability | 1 Comment »
It is time to put the icing on our big, delicious mud and straw cake. With the inside of our curvaceous, carbon sequestering community space coated in a lovely mixture of locally dug clay, straw, sand and poo from our resident horses; it is time to give the outside the same treatment.
This is a great opportunity to learn how to render in clay, build cob and wine bottle walls and have lots of filthy fun. On Sunday 7 April, we’ll also be holding a workshop on willow sculpture making. We have plenty of crash space, a lovely wood fuelled shower and will provide tasty squat pot for all mud slingers. We ask only a small donation for food (£2 per day) and a willingness to engage with the tasks that keep our little squattopia going i.e chopping wood and vegetables and a bit of washing up.
Feel free to come down for as much or as little of the week (Monday 1 April – Sunday 7 April) as you like but please let us know your intention so we can make sure we have enough beds and food.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a place or receive more details.
Posted: April 2nd, 2013 | Author: Holly | Filed under: Events | Tags: garden, sustainability | No Comments »
UPDATE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the chicken space working week has been delayed one week and will now be from the 16th-19th April. Sorry for the change of date, we hope that you can all still come and get involved in making this project happen, and we hope to see you all then.
From the 16-19th April we’ll be holding a working week to prepare a comfortable and safe space for the chickens to come and live with us. We’d love you to come and spend the week with us and get involved in clearing the space and making it beautiful as well as being part of the Grow Heathrow family and getting to know us and the site.
The main tasks to be done are:
Tatting materials to build a fence with
Erecting a fence around the site
Making a gate
Beautifying the space
Coppicing hazel and creating a polytunnel
We’ve got plenty of bedding and sleeping space in our communal guest cabin but if you want you own space you can bring a tent as there is loads of camping space. If it’s cold it’s advised you bring your sleeping bag if you’ve got one. Food and drinks will be provided but it’s nice if you can chip in a couple of quid towards this and general running costs of the site. If you happen to have any battery powered drills or general tools you’d like to bring that would be great but we’ve also got a lot here.
We’re off grid in terms of energy and rely on our 2 wind turbines and solar panels, so it’s an excuse to turn your phone off and spend some time outside. Hopefully we’ll have some Spring sunshine to see us through.
Please let us know you’re coming by email at email@example.com, and you can find this event on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/events/431333796953033/
Hope to see you there!
Posted: February 1st, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action | Tags: activism, direct action, frack off, fracking, peak oil, resistance, sustainability | No Comments »
Frack Free February is a Month of Action in Somerset with public meetings, talks, stalls, workshops, actions and more all raising awareness about the threats to our communities and the bigger picture of extreme energy.
The Frack Free February Month of Action is an opportunity to:
- Systematically raise awareness about fracking & extreme energy to communities at risk in Somerset – we will be distributing 50,000 leaflets across towns & villages in the PEDL licensed areas
- Create a wide variety of opportunities for participation and action to anyone moved by the literature and outreach activities & the thought of fracking taking place locally – see the list of actions below
- To generate momentum for the campaign in 2013 and significantly increase planning application response capacity across the county e.g. starting more local groups, increasing the number of newsletter sign ups and so forth, so that when applications are submitted, we can best respond and support each other across the county.
WAYS TO GET INVOLVED
- Organise a public meeting or event in your town or village – email us & we can support with any aspect, whether that’s graphic design, providing speakers or helping with the costs of hall hire
- Help us doordrop over 50,000 leaflets
- Got skills to share? Offer to lead, or participate in a workshop
- Get postering! Help us get posters up in every local shop in Somerset
- Ask your local groups to sign up to the coalition, we have a target of at least 50 new groups joining the coalition in February
- Help us make this happen – Donate!
For any of the above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT IS TAKING PLACE?
Click here to see an overview of all that is going on in February, click here for that list in chronological order.
Reblogged with love from frackfreesomerset.org and frack-off.org.uk
Posted: January 31st, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Cool Projects, Education | Tags: climate change, eco building, green building, peak oil, re-skilling, sustainability | No Comments »
Here’s an appeal from our friends at thePOOSH.org, an inspiring grassroots movement that’s supporting people to learn and try out green building for free. They’ve helped us roof our straw bale house, and engineered us a fuel efficient rocket stove that reduces wood consumption by burning secondary wood gases. Now they need some money to keep doing what they’re doing:
In September, thePOOSH team started a four month tour of the UK–travelling, speaking in Universities, helping at build sites and just spreading the word of sustainable building and the organisation. For now we have completed the tour and have in total of 14 build sites registered on our website in the UK.
Well a bit about thePOOSH. Our vision is to someday see a world where community-driven sustainable construction simply will be known as construction, and we want to inspire and empower people to build economical, sustainable, and community created structures by creating a network of volunteers that exchange knowledge, labour, and experiences!
At the end of the year we wrapped up the tour in Scotland where we spent a week intensively planning the future of thePOOSH: our goals, dreams, roles, responsibilities and about a thousand (+/-) future projects!
Well, we are growing fast, and as of today we have over 500 users and 41 build-sites (and at least one build-site on each inhabitable continent!) Today alone 20 new users joined our ranks! But we want to be even more constructive and we want to continue building the movement! Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 24th, 2013 | Author: Sam | Filed under: Action | Tags: access to land, activism, anti-airport, climate camp, climate change, direct action, eviction resistance, Squatting, sustainability, zad | 2 Comments »
Saturday, November 17th – Day of Reoccupation.
A yellow forklift truck leads the way; walking close behind is a block of Zadists carrying a fortified banner declaring: No to the airport and its world.
Behind them 20 tractors pull huge agricultural trailers filled with building materials: piles of pallets, straw bales, tyres, doors, windows, prefabricated wooden walls, hundreds of planks, corrugated iron roofing, tools – pretty much anything you can think of, including kitchen sinks.
We sit on top of one of the trailers. The affinity group from our local village has decided to build one of the constructions for today’s reoccupation action – we have named it the Black Bloc Sanitaire – it’s a shower block and bank of compost loos. The pile of building materials that we sit on is much more messy than the trailer behind us which carries the wood for a group of young architects. The architects have a super neat stack of carefully numbered pallets and the rumour is that they have already practiced setting up their dormitory building in the main hall of the Nantes school of architecture. Our construction doesn’t even have plans that are to scale, but we are hoping that the collective energy of the day and a dose of spontaneity will see something rise from the pile of rubbish we are sitting on. This is the opportunity of a life time for anyone who has ever dreamt of building their own cabin, rebel palace or fortress: A free plot of land, no planning permissions or building regulations and hundreds of people keen to help build.
None of us know where we are heading, the location has been kept a secret. From high up we see the river of human being flowing behind us, snaking through the country lanes as far as the eye can see. As always, we have Radio Klaxon on in the background, they have just announced that the mainstream media think that there are 40,000 people are on the action and over 400 tractors! We are all here on an illegal demonstration whose aim is to build a rebel settlement together on the land earmarked for the airport (see part 1). Last night the president interrupted a state visit of Poland to make a statement about the protest, reminding the French public of the “power of the law.”
A year ago, when I first saw the flyer for this action, with its floating date to reoccupy 4 weeks after the first eviction, I thought it was a great idea but that it would be a handful of tired traumatised post eviction activists symbolically rebuilding a couple of huts. Little did I imagine I would be taking part in one of the largest act of mass disobedience I’ve ever experienced and that we would have enough material to build a hamlet. The fact that there is not a single police officer in sight, however, not even a helicopter watching above, is strangely disconcerting.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 13th, 2013 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Cool Projects, Energy | Tags: energy, skills, sustainability | No Comments »
For the first part of this article, see How we built our wind turbine – Part 1.
So we had ourselves a wind turbine, but no place for it to go. What’s more, for the turbine to cope with the wind and rain it would be subject to, it would need a good coat of protective paint. Over the next few weeks, the finishing touches were put to every part of our turbine – de-assembling, painting, sanding, painting again, checking and then re-assembling.
The turbine head was painted with Hammerite for maximum durability. The rotor disks were taken apart and re-assembled several times, making slight adjustments each time to make sure the disks were parallel and spinning with as small a gap as possible between them. When we were finally satisfied with the assembly, the blades were attached and the bolts were secured in place with a generous application of threadlock. The turbine blades were then painted, each one given several thin coats of gloss paint, to make sure the final coat was as smooth and even as possible.
To connect the turbine to our existing power system, we had to run armoured cable from the base of the scaffolding tower that we would be mounting the turbine on through the greenhouses to where our batteries were stored in the living space. The turbine would be generating 3-phase electricity, so the supply would have to be passed through a bridge rectifier to convert it to 24V DC power. A charge controller connected to a 1000 Watt heater acting as a dump load ensured that the batteries wouldn’t be overcharged on windy days. To make the power system as accessible as possible, a new display board was created to show how everything was wired up, which included an ammeter connected to the wind turbine supply to show how much power it was generating at any given moment.
With all these tasks to complete as well as the other commitments we had going on, it wasn’t until after the Christmas and New Year break that we were able to sort out a weekend for the final installation of the turbine. The last few details were seen to – designing and building a custom hinge to allow us to raise the turbine into position on the pole that ran through the middle of our scaffolding tower, cutting steel cable to the right length for our guy lines, balancing the turbine blades, and lifting everything up onto the tower platform. And so it was that a few hardy souls braved the cold, crisp January weather to stand on a platform high above the Grow Heathrow greenhouses to raise our turbine into its final position.
Success! The turbine was up! And just in the nick of time, too. As the evening shadows lengthened that Sunday, the first visitors arrived to begin a week long arts residency at Grow Heathrow. As excited as we all were to have our turbine finally up, we had to wait a couple more days for the wind to pick up enough for it to start spinning, at which point we could be sure that it was all working according to plan. And then the following weekend a howling storm blew in from the North Sea, and our turbine was given a thorough workout that proved it could handle strong winds without a hitch.
In the year since the Grow Heathrow turbine was erected, it’s harnessed the energy from the wind to provide us with much-needed power, especially during the winter and on grey, overcast days when there’s not much sun around. The turbine has become one of the most prominent features of the site, being easily visible from the road outside, and it’s something we always look forward to showing off to visitors whenever we give tours of the site.
We’re now thinking about how we can add another turbine, to give us even more energy. Now that we’ve done one, building another should be much more straightforward. And we’re keen to share what we’ve learned – if you know a community-based project that would like to build a turbine of their own, please contact us and we’ll do what we can to help.
Posted: January 8th, 2013 | Author: Ian | Filed under: Cool Projects, Energy | Tags: energy, skills, sustainability | 1 Comment »
It’s been almost a year since the Grow Heathrow wind turbine was installed, so to mark the occasion I thought it was a good time to share the process of how and why it came about. For many of us, this was our first experience building a wind turbine, but hopefully it won’t be our last.
Since Grow Heathrow is an off-grid site (meaning that it isn’t connected to the National Grid), all the energy that’s needed on-site has to be generated on-site. Shortly after the greenhouses were refurbished, we installed four 190 Watt solar panels on the roof of the southernmost greenhouse, which provided us with an abundance of clean electricity whenever the sun was out. As summer moved into autumn, our thoughts turned to winter, when there would be much less solar energy available for our solar panels to harness. We knew we had to diversify our energy sources, so we started making plans to build a wind turbine.
Having seen DIY wind turbine demonstrations at successive Climate Camps by V3 Power, and taken part in a turbine blade carving workshop run by Cambridge Greentech at the Sunrise Off Grid festival during the summer of 2011, we knew that we had the means to build a turbine of our own. All we needed to do was figure out what size we wanted it, then make sure we had enough funding to get the necessary materials. The turbine design we would be using was the one developed by High Piggott, which is based around the principle of using fairly basic materials and tools, so that anyone with a reasonable level of competence can have a go at building one. With a well equipped workshop and enough people, you can build a wind turbine without too much difficulty in a few days. Unfortunately, we were facing the prospect of building ours in a converted greenhouse, without a reliable electricity supply, in the middle of winter, and with a bunch of enthusiastic but inexperienced volunteers.
Cambridge Greentech very kindly agreed to help us with our turbine. They had organised wind turbine building workshops before, and they were able to source all the necessary materials and specialist tools for us. We decided to go for a 2.4m diameter turbine that was rated at 700 Watts, which would complement our existing 24V solar panels. A crowdfunding campaign helped us reach our funding target, and a date was pencilled into our diaries – the first week of November.
The first day of the workshop arrived – a damp and chilly November morning. Everything was as ready as it was ever going to be – we’d cleared space in the workshops, installed a brand new diesel generator, found some willing volunteers who wanted to learn how to build a wind turbine, and started building a scaffolding tower for the turbine to be installed on. The CGT van arrived, so fully loaded with equipment that the suspension was struggling to cope. After getting it all unloaded, we sat down with a mug of tea to review how the next few days were going to unfold.
Materials list: A solid block of smooth-grained pine for the turbine blades, two solid steel discs for the rotors, various lengths of steel angle and flat bar, 3 different sizes of steel pipe, 24 high strength neodymium magnets, 3 kilos of insulated copper wire, 1 kilo of resin, a hub for a caravan wheel, 16m of steel cable for guy lines, 20m of flexible 3-core cable, rectifiers with heat sinks and an enclosure, threaded bar, bolts and washers, all kinds of miscellaneous bits and pieces, and plenty of gaffer tape.
Tools list: draw blades, spoke shaves, chisels, files + rasps, cabinet scrapers, dividers, measuring tools, jigsaw, block planes, hand drills, MIG welder, grinders, stick welder, metal files, a good soldering iron, and wire cutters.
The work involved would be divided between three groups – the woodworking crew, the metalworking crew, and the electrics crew. The wood crew would spend most of their time carving the 1.8m long blades for the turbine. The metal crew would be concentrating on the turbine head, tail, and mounting poles. The electrics crew would assemble the alternator and bridge rectifier. Each crew was supervised by someone from CGT – Nikki looked after the metalwork, Pete cast an expert eye over the woodwork, and Scotty handled the electricals. So that everyone got a chance to get involved in every part of the process, the crews would change over at the end of each day.
As the days went on, the shape of the turbine started to emerge from the raw materials we’d started with. The days were short, cold and damp, but there were enough hands around to keep us all supplied with hot beverages and warming food. A lighting rig allowed us to keep working after sunset, although it was a relief for all when we downed tools at the end of each day and the noise from the generator and the grinding and welding could fall silent, at least until the next morning.
Although we’d wanted to have a finished turbine by the end of the workshop, that proved to be beyond out capability. For one reason or another, each stage of the build took longer than expected. But we had at least assembled all the components needed for our turbine, and when we turned it, which generated a voltage when turned – success! The ending of the workshop coincided with bonfire night, so we had ourselves a celebratory bonfire to wind down after a few days of intensive productivity.
Coming up in Part 2 – the final installation.