I am taking part in a six session course in Biodynamic Gardening; this weekend was weekend one, with the others spread across the year until July.
If you're unfamiliar with Biodynamics (and I most definitely am!) then it's a holistic approach to gardening that accounts not just for the plant, but its whole environment, including influences such as the moon. Growing is quite strictly governed by principles that include the use of specific 'preparations' and certain activities at very definite points. I'm a scientist at heart, and whilst some of the ideas stretch my imagination, it's always nice to find new ways of doing things and expanding on what I know.
I almost submitted an application for some work with a rather lovely little social enterprise called Kindlewoods CIC this week. It seems they provide opportunities for people to enjoy woodlands and forests to improve their wellbeing, learning the kind of skills that help maintain these special places as they go. I really, really like the ethos behind the company, but on reflection, it's not quite where my skills lie (I'm talking accountancy things here. I can cobble as necessary but it's definitely not something I enjoy!) The application involved the usual CV and cover letter, but I was also asked to describe what I loved about nature. Now there's a question!
Every year, without exception, I promise myself I will start planting in good time, and every year I fail. (I also swear not to sow too many tomatoes, to label everything meticulously and to not plant out too closely - equally unsuccessful).
For the last week, planting broad beans has been on my daily list of things to do and at the eleventh hour, the close of the last day of the half term break and in the dark, I finally bit the bullet.
I am a twitcher. There, I've said it. I love the birds in my garden like they were my own children (maybe a little less...) and spend the same amount of time gazing out of the window at their antics as most 'normal' people spend watching telly!
This time of year I find incredibly frustrating. When you're a food grower, which innately we all are (somewhere underneath), it's right about now that there is almost nothing that can be planted. January and February are not only too cold but there's too little light and the ground is usually frozen like stone, certainly too hard to push in seeds. Even if you catch the window of opportunity, there are desperate teams of birds and mice who will swoop in and demolish them the moment your back's turned!.
There are aspects of what I do that really aren't pretty, certainly not for the faint hearted! And some that require steely determination and inordinate amounts of optimism. This is one of those projects that I feel in my bones will work. World meet Gresham, Gresham meet world...
Bear with me...
I was lucky enough to get wind of a community litter pick lately, organised by two lovely young people who, keen to begin growing in their area, wanted to start by improving an area of wasteland just next to their local park.
If there's one thing that's a great way to kick off a community project, then it's picking up litter. It's an easy thing to do, anyone can take part, and there's an immediate visual improvement. It's also the perfect means to begin conversations - not so taxing that it's difficult to concentrate and the people contributing generally have at least a few common interests, so no awkward pauses.
Treading Lightly is simple living, within your means and the means of the planet, and making a minimal impact on the Earth. Find out more here about Catherine, of Barefoot Solutions, does this from day to day.