Sustainable Blewbury Annual General Meeting
Wednesday 15th April, 7.30 pm, Blewbury School Hall
An informal evening to discuss what we’ve been doing and what you’d like us to be doing, over a drink and nibbles. We are delighted that Simon Kenton (Project Manager, Community Action Groups) will be joining us to bring us up to date with the Oxfordshire network at the forefront of community-led climate change action. We will also be showing some interesting short videos.
Blewbury Garden Market Extra at the Post Office
Blewbury Garden Market continues at the Post Office on Saturday mornings from 9.30 am and welcomes all to bring bread, cakes and preserves for sale. Why not encourage your children to try their hand (with supervision!) to increase their pocket money by making sweets or bread? Our food page explains how it works, and has full information for producers. Coordinated by Angela Hoy:.
Blewbury Garden Market
Advance notice that we will be aiming to start our summer season back at the Blewbury Garage forecourt on Saturday 9th May, or 16th if we have a really awful spring.
Four lectures – all at the Manor Barn at 8.00 pm – that fit into Sustainable Blewbury’s Environment and Architectural Heritage theme. Remaining lectures are:
- Thursday 26th March – A Transylvanian tale
- Thursday 16th April – A sustainable legacy for Wales
Tickets (including a glass of wine) £10, from the Post Office or on the door. All profits go to Blewbury Pre-School.
Sustainable Wantage – Charlton Spring Festival, Wantage Garden Market Project
Friday 10th April, noon–3.00 pm, The Charlton Centre, Charlton Village Road, Wantage OX12 7HG
Kids crafts and activities, live music, hot local food, local ale and cider, cakes and treats, Easter egg trail, plant and seed swap. Adults £1, kids free. Click here for full details.
Events elsewhere in Oxfordshire (and much else) can be found on CAG (Community Action Groups) Oxfordshire.
Quiz evening: 14 March 2015
A very enjoyable and successful evening, with questions to suit everyone. The event was aimed to raise money for the Village Hall Refurbishment Fund, and there was an overall profit of £1014.
Apple events 2014
We had apple juice pressings on eight Saturdays, at the Manor, Orchard Dene and the School. On 11 October we had an Apple Day celebration at the Red Lion. This included the Blewbury Garden Market, apple juice pressing and a VPA plant and cake stall, as well as colourful artwork by the Playgroup children and Q Gardens providing apple-flavoured ice-cream.
Permaculture Open Day: 7 September 2014
A good number of people, including several families with children, came to see our orchard garden, based largely on permaculture principles. We have planted a wide variety of fruit trees, soft-fruit bushes and perennial ground cover, much of it edible, and wanted to show what we are doing and how it is progressing. The children had a lot of fun in the long grass and willow shelter, in addtion to seeing all the plants.
Village Produce Association show: 12 July 2014
We displayed information about two of our projects: to create a permaculture orchard garden and our new bee group. Both provoked much interest.
Blewbury Mini-Festival Event – Community Energy schemes: the why, what, who, how and when: 19 June
A talk by Dr. Chris Jardine. Chris has been pioneering in the field of community energy schemes for the past decade and built the first ever community share offer-funded solar scheme in the UK way back in 2008. Chris shared his experience, explaining the need for community energy schemes (e.g. Westmill wind and solar coop, left and centre photos below), and the practicalities of running them, including the soon-to-be-built solar roofs at Blewbury Primary School (drawing at right, below). There were also short talks about the Village Hall refurbishment and our plans for a village EcoCentre based on the refurbished Village Hall in collaboration with the School. There was a lot of lively discussion afterwards over local cheese, local wine and home-made bread from Blewbury Bakers.
Green May Fair: 10 May 2014
A joint event with Blewbury School and BVS. Refreshments: home-made soup lunch, a barbeque, teas and a bar. Local produce from Blewbury Garden Market. Fun activities for the children. Live music from Blewbury Brass Band and Didcot Junction folk group. Performances from Blewbury School. How to reduce your bills and your carbon footprint, eco-renovate your home, encourage bees into your garden and grow your own vegetables. On show: the Blewbury Wagon and the Green Bus.
The complete Green May Fair programme, including contact details for all contributors to the event, is here (pdf).
Photos show the restored Blewbury Wagon with a ‘bee’, an electricity-generating bicycle, childrens’ wood craft, discussion of Blewbury Neighbourhood Plan, and two images of recycled fashion show.
Film evening – ‘Thin Ice’: 23 April 2014
Climate science has been under attack, so Oxford geologist Simon Lamb visited and flimed climate scientists at work around the world to find out what’s really going on. The result is a unique look at the science behind global warming. The film was followed by a discussion led by Blewbury scientists Dr. Emily Black and Prof. Paul Whitehead, and a glass of local wine.
A Sustainable Future – Global to Local: 26 March 2014
A shared supper, followed by a short AGM and informal talks on community activities:
- Oxfordshire: Mike Edmunds for Simon Kenton (Community Action Groups)
- Canada: Katharine Byers (Transition Salt Spring Island)
- Blewbury: Mike Edmunds (Looking forward)
Slides from the three talks are available here (pdf).
Cheese evening: 19 February 2014
Cheese made from our own cows’ milk, a talk and tasting by Mike Smales, who makes Lyburn Farmhouse cheeses (including the Old Winchester that was very much liked at the Blewbury Festival) on the edge of the New Forest. Mike also talked about growing vegetables for supermarkets and organic box firms. There were samples of the delicious cheeses he makes, as well as home-made bread from Blewbury Bakers and local wine.
TTog–Blewbury 1st anniversary event: 8 November 2013
‘Communities’ Achievements in Sustainable Energy – what communities can do better than other organisations’, a talk by Dr. Anne Wheldon, Knowledge and Research Adviser to Ashden.
Ashden champions and promotes practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives both in the UK and abroad. Anne has been a technical assessor and judge of the annual Ashden Awards for more than 10 years. Her talk focused on what communities might be able to do successfully, with illustrations from Ashden finalists’ projects.
Apple juicing 2013
The 2013 apple crop was huge. We held six Saturday public sessions to make some of the best apple juice we’ve ever tasted:
- 28 September – Manor Barn
- 5 October – Primary School
- 19 October – Manor Barn
- 26 October – Red Lion
- 2 November – Orchard Dene
- 9 November – Manor Barn
In addition, the equipment was also available for hire and a number of people with very large quantities of apples took advantage of this. The photos show shredding the apples, pressing the juice, and selling apple cakes at the primary school.
SB events at the Blewbury Festival 2013
- Family day: 8 June
On the Festival opening day at Tickers Folly Field, we had a specially extended and expanded Blewbury Garden Market stall (photo at right) selling plants, produce, bread and cakes, etc. for a record turnover.
- Kenneth Grahame evening: 20 June
Our chairman, Mike Edmunds, and the chairman and project coordinator of the Kenneth Grahame Society, Nigel McMorris, presented talks in the Manor Barn. Mike’s talk was about Blewbury’s environment and people in Kenneth Grahame’s time, and how the village has kept his memory alive. Nigel McMorris talked about the many editions of Wind in the Willows and the illustrators that have brought this ever-popular book to life. After the talks we served home-made bread with an interesting selection of local cheeses and wine.
- Sustainable Blewbury exhibition, 23 June
On the day of the traditional Millbrook walk, we had an exhibition in the lovely water garden of Millbrook Cottage. All the organisations and clubs in the village were invited to display a flag, bunting or a kite to hang in the many willow trees, producing a lovely effect. The photos below show the main SB display, composting, and James Morgan’s demonstration of invertebrate life from the Millbrook.
‘Woodlands and woodfuel’: 12 April 2013
Following a short AGM, Riki Therivel, Manager of the Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme, gave us a lively, interactive talk, with demonstrations, about managing trees and woodlands, wood as a fuel, wood storage and drying, what questions to ask of firewood suppliers, and different kinds of stoves and boilers.
This was our fourth recycling event. Very poor weather limited the attendance.
Open Meeting and shared supper: 15 March 2013
‘We are not alone’:
Sustainable Blewbury is a member of the Oxfordshire CAG (Community Action Group) and Simon Kenton, Coordinator of Oxfordshire CAG, led the evening. We started with informal discussion over a shared meal. Simon told us about some of the activities of the 50+ Oxfordshire CAGs, then we had brief summaries of what Sustainable Blewbury is doing and short talks about Sustainable Wantage and Sustainable Wallingford. We ended with a discussion.
Film show – ‘The Economics of Happiness’: 25 January 2013
A documentary film about economic localisation, a powerful strategy that can help heal our fractured world – our ecosystems, our societies, and ourselves. Winner of numerous awards at international film festivals. An interesting discussion of the film was led by Jo Hamilton of the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute.
‘Old homes to eco-homes’: 21 November 2012
An evening of two talks on energy efficiency – showing the similarities and differences in saving energy in old houses compared to buildings designed very recently.
- Marianne Suhr said that very little thought has been given to how traditional, breathable structures will cope with standard, impermeable solutions. Mistakes being made today could create major problems for the future and threaten the longevity of old buildings. Her talk focused on the key areas to make our historic homes more energy efficient, without compromising their historical integrity or upsetting their moisture equilibrium. She showed materials, some traditional and some very new, that can help to solve the problems. Her examples included a number of houses in Blewbury, including her own (photo at left).
- Anna Woodeson talked about Embedding sustainability in practice. She is Associate Director and Head of Sustainability at Wilkinson Eyre Architects, and has been leading the practice towards a leaner, greener approach for the past five years. Her talk showed four very different architectural projects: the Earth Sciences Department at Oxford University, the Gardens by the Bay biomes in Singapore (photo at right), the Urban Sustainability Centre in London and the Basketball Arena for the London Olympic Games. She discussed her experience of how to change design practice and culture within an organisation.
Proceeds from ticket sales were donated to Blewbury Pre-School’s window restoration fund.
Free reuse and recycle event: 18 November 2012
Following two big successes, this was our third free reuse/recycle event. Although fewer goods were brought, there were still quite a lot and the majority of them found new homes.
Apple juicing days 2012
We used our new equipment for making fresh apple juice at Blewbury Manor on 6 October and 3 November, and in the Red Lion garden on 20 October. In addition to many people bringing us surplus apples from their own trees, we juiced large quantities of apples from apple trees at the Manor and the Red Lion.
The two photos on the left show our apple shredder, and the two on the right show our apple press. We also have a pasteuriser, which allows the juice to be kept for up to a year. The fresh juice is much tastier than bland commercial juice, and different varieties of apples give quite varied styles.
Parity Projects talk: 30 October 2012
Richard Griffiths of multiple award-winning Parity Projects gave the talk that had been planned for the Transition Together launch event. They produce individually tailored low-energy retrofit plans for houses, rather than merely producing one plan for an entire road or estate. What they do differently is to consider the needs and priorities of the people living in the house, and they can deal with all sorts of unusual features. They have a special service for solid walled houses. Richard went on to describe the government’s Green Deal, which provoked a lively discussion. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes can help us reduce energy bills, tackle climate change and makes them more comfortable and desirable places to live. But without help, achieving that aim cost-effectively can be difficult and confusing.
With two pilot groups doing well, we had an event to launch the exciting main project. Our guest speaker from award-winning Parity Projects had to cancel at the last moment and gave the talk separately (see above), but there was a talk on the project itself followed by informal discussions and refreshments around posters with more information about Transition Together and Sustainable Blewbury.
Email email@example.com for more information.
Free reuse and recycle event, 9 September 2012
Following the success of our first free event of this type we had a repeat – it was even better than last time! This time it was held on Tickers Folly field in conjunction with a free concert by the Blewbury Brass Band in the new bandstand. The combination brought out more people, including some from surrounding villages and even St. Albans and Canterbury. About three-quarters of the goods were taken, a total of 420 kg, and items left were donated to Helen and Douglas House to sell in their charity shop.
Free reuse and recycle event, 1 July 2012
A chance to unload unwanted household possessions and/or pick up something – for free. This was our first event of this type. People cleared out reusable items that were no longer needed, and a large turnout took away 331 kg of items that would otherwise have gone into landfill. About a third of the items were not taken but went to the StyleAcre charity shop.
CULTIVATE evening and the first SB Annual General Meeting, 27 April 2012
Cultivate is an exciting new, not-for-profit venture which will bring fresh, local, organically grown food direct from farmers to the towns and villages of Oxfordshire. Dan Betterton, one of the founders of CULTIVATE, told us about it. Although based in Oxford, the market garden they are developing is leased from the Earth Trust, near the Wittenham Clumps and Little Wittenham – much closer to Blewbury.
The talk was followed by the first AGM of Sustainable Blewbury, to approve our new constitution. SB has grown and has quite a few active projects. To help in our administration and in seeking grants, Sustainable Blewbury’s Core Group decided that the time has come to become a society independent of the BVS while still keeping close links with them and with the Parish Council.
Bread evening, 23 March 2012
John Letts, founder of the Oxford Bread Group, is an archaeo-botanist and farmer who has successfully grown old wheat varieties from thatch straw, marketing artisanal bread and other products. He told us about many interesting and useful things that we can learn from older methods of agriculture uncovered by this research.
Growers’ workshop, 7 December 2011
We joined forces with allotment growers and others for an ad hoc discussion – a post-mortem on the past growing season and a look forward to next, what seeds to sow and things to grow, etc.
Produce stall producers and helpers get-together, 25 November 2011
An end-of-season party for everybody associated with the produce stall, and also to mark the end of Sarah’s very successful time as convenor of the Food and Farming group – initiating the Produce Stall and Permaculture Project.
We borrowed a fruit press and associated equipment to
assess apple juicing logistics, in order to decide whether
to purchase equipment for the village for next season, and familiarise
ourselves with its operation and management. After a day spent learning
the best way to use the equipment, we held two public sessions where people
could bring their own apples:
- Blewbury School: We juiced apples from the trees in the school playground as well as ones brought by parents. Lots of schoolchildren participated and enjoyed seeing how apple juice can be made.
- Red Lion pub garden: Many people brought their surplus apples, some in large quantities, and we also used apples from the trees in the pub garden. We were able to compare the juice and yield from many kinds of apple (including the very common ‘don’t know’ variety).
Produce stall 2011
The stall (photo at right) had a second successful season. It ran every Saturday from early May to mid-October, thanks to our local producers and team of helpers. See our food page for more information about how the stall works.
Village clubs open day, 18 September 2011
For this event, at the new Clubhouse on the Recreation Ground, we had a small exhibition and people on hand to give advice and attract new members.
Blewbury Festival, June 2011
We were involved in the following events:
- 11 June: Village Day (Festival opening) – For this Saturday only, our weekly Produce Stall was moved to Tickers Folly field. It ran all afternoon with an expanded sale of local food, as well as displays of the current activities of Sustainable Blewbury.
- 16 June: A talk by Colin Tudge
entitled GOOD FOOD FOR EVERYONE FOR EVER: A people’s takeover of the
world’s food supply, at the New Barn, Blewbury Manor. (Photo by Bernard
Mattimore) The talk was followed by a very lively discussion,
and local wine and cheese.
Colin Tudge is a biologist and writer with a lifelong interest in the philosophy of science, politics, and agriculture. He has worked for Farmers Weekly, New Scientist and BBC Radio, and published about 15 books on natural history, evolution, food and farming. His latest book is ‘Good Food for Everyone Forever’ (2011). In 2009, he and his wife Ruth founded the Campaign for Real Farming.
- 25 June: As part of the Festival’s exhibitions weekend, we had an exhibition explaining the current projects of Sustainable Blewbury. It took place in Anita Rendel’s lovely garden. The first three photos are views of the exhibition, and then James Morgan's live demonstration of creatures from the Millbrook.
Architectural heritage seminar: Blewbury's Hidden Gems, 4–5 April 2011
- 4 April: Guest speaker Charles Brooking gave a talk in the Methodist Church.
- 5 April: Charles Brooking led a village walk to point out the many architectural features of interest.
Sustainable Blewbury has an initiative to record architectural detail of buildings in the village, in photographs, sketches and drawings. This has recently started with a survey of about 100 houses (not all of them listed buildings) to note external items of special interest. To throw further light on our findings, we invited Charles Brooking back to Blewbury for a talk on the importance of windows and other detail in historic buildings and what you can learn from them. At a time when historic buildings are being swept away in large numbers, Charles' crusade is to make people aware of the significance of detail.
Film evening, 25 March 2011
- ‘Beyond the
The film’s maker, Ross Harrison, attended and contibuted to the interesting discussion.
‘Beyond the Brink’ is a young Oxfordshire filmmaker’s take on the climate change debate. 18-year-old Ross Harrison spent a year chasing up experts, studying the news, and filming to create a short documentary that answers two ever-pressing questions: are we really causing climate change, and who cares? The result is a 40-minute film about the knowns and the unknowns of the science, about the risks, and about being hopeful for the future too. Interviews with Sir David Attenborough, among others, offer fresh perspectives on a subject that saturates the media, divides the public, and yet is still meaningless to many.
The aim was to present our projects and activities:
- A Sustainable Blewbury presentation by various people involved in our current projects, which you can view here (pdf).
- A very interesting talk by Cynth Napper of Oxfordshire Nature Conservation Forum, which you can view here (pdf).
In between the two we had a delicious and varied cold lunch, with the emphasis on local ingredients.
Apple Day, 16 October 2010
Apple Day is an annual celebration of apple, orchards and local distinctiveness, initiated by Common Ground in 1990. It has since been celebrated each year by people organising hundreds of local events. We held our first Blewbury-wide celebration of Apple Day on 16 October – it was well-attended and successful. We have put together a gallery of Apple Day photographs showing many of the activities, and the results of our survey of orchards in Blewbury is summarised on a separate page.
An attractive 28-page booklet, ‘Orchards in and around Blewbury’, was prepared for Apple Day and contains a wealth of information. It is available from us for £3.50.
Blewbury Produce stall
Our weekly stall for people wishing to sell surplus garden produce, including fresh fruit, vegetables, plants, cut flowers, preserves, free-range eggs, cakes and other home produce, ran from 22 May through 25 September. It was held at the shop (garage forecourt) on London Road, and proved to be popular and successful – almost everything supplied was sold.
More information? On our food page, or contact Angela Hoy:– 01235 851726 or Ange Barton:– 01235 850957.
Sustainable Blewbury stall at Brass Band Day, 11 July 2010
The Blewbury and District Brass Band celebrated its 100th anniversary with an open-air party in the Playclose. Sustainable Blewbury had a stand – we talked to a lot of people about the project's aims and activities, as well as selling some local produce.
Green Energy Initiative – group purchase of solar photovoltaic panels
The Blewbury Energy Initiative coordinated a group order from Blewbury and Upton to obtain a discount on solar photovoltaic panels. Under the new feed-in tariff these have become an good investment, as well as contributing to a low-carbon future. Planning regulations have been eased, and a discount was offered if enough orders were placed. A well-attended information meeting about solar panels and the possible arrangements was held on 5 July, and this led to about a dozen new systems being installed.
A series of 3 films
- The Power of Community – how Cuba survived peak oil: 22 January 2010
- Home – a film by Yann
19 February 2010
- In Transition 1.0 – what communities elsewhere are doing:
5 March 2010
Food and farming in and around Blewbury – a discussion evening, 13 November 2009
The discussion was chaired by agronomist Andrew Chell, with a showing of the recent BBC2 film "A Farm for the Future". The aim was to learn about the huge changes and challenges in today's farming, including higher oil prices and climate change.
Sustainable Blewbury – exhibition and demonstrations, 27 June 2009
In recent years the Blewbury Village Society Environment Group has worked closely with other organisations on issues concerning the environment. For this Blewbury Festival event, in the newly constructed barn at The Manor, the Environment Group organised exhibitions, demonstrations of, and detailed information about:
- Energy saving, solar PV, solar thermal, ground source heat pumps, etc.
- Reducing and recycling waste, including advice on composting
- Fairtrade food, saving resources and much more on sustainable living initiatives
The exhibition also highlighted the group's activities past and present, with a display of records and photographs of our own natural environment, and presentations on energy saving and microgeneration.
News from a warming world – a talk by Mark Lynas, 22 June 2009
This talk discussed what Blewbury and its global neighbours might look like in a warmer world, and how we all need to adapt our lifestyles. What can we do now to prevent the worst effects of climage change?
Mark Lynas, who lives in Oxfordshire, is a journalist, author and environmental activist. His book ‘Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet’ won the prestigious Royal Society Prize for Science Books in 2008.