Harvest Festival 2013!

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Come and join our annual celebration of everything that’s wonderful about Hogacre and OxGrow.

Enjoy freshly harvested food from the community garden, local beer, live music, apple pressing, games for kids, arts & crafts, and of course just relaxing in the beautiful surroundings.

Low Carbon South Oxford Food Group will be cooking up a storm with the produce we’ve been growing on site all year specially for this occasion, supplemented with various other local delights, so please bring a big appetite with you!

Share the event with your friends on facebook here https://www.facebook.com/events/203341036511529/

The Hog Roast- The Journey from Pavilion to Cafe

Hello beautiful, wonderful Oxgrowers…
As you probably know by now, the pavilion down at the Common is undergoing a period of transformation, from under-used sports utility building to eco-cafe extravaganza. The work is well underway. Painting is almost done, the kitchen is being refurbished, and a ‘pimp-my-furniture’ stronghold has set up camp. The cafe is opening on 9th June, so keep your eyes peeled for news of the super-duper-exciting opening event. In the meantime, check out the blog for updates.
BigBigLovin,
XOXO

50 Litres of Drawing Room Red Later: The Painting of the Hogacre Pavilion

Day 1. The painting begins. I sand and clean and prepare, which all the instructions on google have informed me are essential in guaranteeing a professional finish. It takes a really long time. It is really boring. After over 12 hours I haven’t even started painting. I lay down plastic sheeting, and in my state of exhaustion induced insanity I make myself a cape. I forget to take it off. I go outside for a break and converse with a dog walker, still wearing my cape. As I turn to go back inside, a gust of wind reminds me of the presence of my cape. I make an executive decision that it is time to call it a day. I remove my cape, and go home. All night I dream that I am sanding.

5:30AM. The Shipping Forecast. Already two cups of tea into the day. Managed to smear paint across my eyelids, and I have a ‘paint dreadlock’ which proved resistant to yesterday evening’s shower. In an attempt to preserve my shoes, I am barefoot. This is a mistake. My feet are covered in paint. My arms are covered in paint. I’m no longer entirely sure what colour my skin is. I think I am losing my mind.

The situation improves once the Today programme starts. I have a banana and listen to Thought for the Day. The first layer of the walls is dry, and I’m about to start on the doors. Then the skirting boards. Windows follow shortly after. I lose track of time, go for a walk then somehow manage to fall asleep on the grass. I have been painting for 14 hours. I can no longer distinguish between myself and the walls. I decide to call it a day. When I get home, I am alarmed at my lack of eyebrows. Upon closer inspection it seems I have just managed to paint them white.  I go to bed.

Day 3: Today is better. Fourth and final coat on the walls before Desert Island Discs starts. Skirting boards and doors finished during Woman’s Hour.  I start on the windows, decide to take a break, and fall asleep on the floor. I wake up with the imprint of the floorboard on my face. Sexy. Almost done, just windows left to do. Around 4 I decide to call it a day. Over 40 hours of painting in 3 days has driven me mad. I am not sure I can remember who I am. I go home and sleep for 15 hours. I wake up feeling like a new woman.

My painting experience has taught me many things. I have a newfound respect for all interior decorators. I just never realised painting was this difficult. The experience probably ranks amongst my top 10 most mentally traumatic life experiences. It at least makes the top 20. I have also cemented my affinity with floorboards. Sitting on the floor has always been a passion of mine. I can now add sleeping on the floor to that list.  The final life lesson I shall take away from this experience:  you will always need more masking tape than you think.

Green Wednesdays – The launch of Mid-week OxGrow

the light fantastic

 

Every Sunday afternoon for the past two years, excited people have gathered at Hogacre Common. They plant seeds, pick fruit, shovel compost, build greenhouses, and generally enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. We drink tea, eat biscuits, plant trees, and have a fun time doing it.

And then last Sunday we had an idea – “why don’t we do this more often?”

So from the first of May, we’re introducing “Midweek OxGrow”. On Wednesday evenings, from 6pm until it gets dark, we’re doing gardening, and you’re invited. Come to Hogacre Eco Park (directions here) – for an evening of helping to make things grow.

All are welcome – digging in compost is a great way to wind down after a hard day at the office, and there’s nothing better than watching the sunset over the meadow after an evening of potting on seedlings. No previous gardening experience is needed – and there is enough to do for people of all ages and abilities to be busy.

Dinner will be provided in some way – we’re still planning that, but it depends how many people turn up, and what’s ready to harvest.

So we’re looking forward to seeing you there, either on Wednesday 1st May, or any subsequent Wednesday through the summer.

If you want more information, or have any questions, email us – mail@oxgrow.org

The Big Dig – March 16th

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The Big Dig Day is a national event all about bringing people down to their local community garden to get growing. Whether you are new to gardening or an experienced cultivator we need your help to make our garden grow.

On the Big Dig Day we have planned four special projects:

- Installing our compost toilet,
- creating flood proofed raised beds,
- making a plastic bottle greenhouse,
- and building an outdoor pizza oven.

There will also be plenty of other activities to keep us busy!

We’re planning to prepare a lunch for all our volunteers on the day with the help of the Low Carbon South Oxford Food Group. To help us ensure that we have enough for everyone, but not too much that we’ll be throwing loads away, please rsvp to this event by clicking this link

(RSVPs are not essential as the session is open to everyone to pop in and out as they need to throught the day.)

Hogacre Harvest Festival 2012

Our second annual harvest festival!
12-4pm on Sunday 14th October at Hogacre Common

Bigger and better than ever this year; more food, more music, more all round fun! We’ve dedicated an entire quarter of our garden to growing food for this event and you’ve never seen so many parsnips in all your life, along with pumpkins, leeks, carrots, beetroot, celeriac, beans, peas, corn, onions, turnips and all manner of things I can’t remember right now, so we need plenty of mouths to feed.

There will also be apple pressing (so bring apples and bottles), games for kids, beer from Compass Brewery, a ceilidh band, an OxGrow work party (of course) and much more.

See you there!

Roll up, roll up!

Bringing Science Down to Earth

Back in May, on a very sunny day when a few of us OxGrowers were out foraging for some nettles down at Hogacre Common, we welcomed a group of visitors to the site for something a little out of the ordinary… Some researchers from the university came down to hold a special seminar sitting in the long grass at OxGrow! Why ever would they do that?! Aren’t Oxford academics happier in stuffy stuccoed studies?!

Well no, not all of them, it seems. Researchers in the field of Science and Technology Studies like to get out of the classroom, out of the library, out of the lab, and explore the social dimensions to science and technology. They investigate the social processes which allow scientific and technological knowledge to come into being and to get taken up in society.  They ask big questions like these:  What makes facts credible? Who counts as an expert? Who should participate in scientific decision-making?  What are the implications of new technologies for community, for democracy, for sustainability, and for human values?

The people asking these questions in Oxford (The Science and Technology Studies Reading Group) took a pretty wild approach this summer. Rather than discussing readings in the confines and comfort of a seminar room, they  held Situated Seminars, immersing themselves in special places that helped to make their questioning come alive in new ways. They met up to deliberate on quantum physics (and “the entanglement of matter and meaning”, ooh!) in an astronomical observatory, they plotted an “algorithmic walk” through the streets of Oxford, they discussed “humanized mice” in the Natural History Museum, they talked taste and ethnography in somebody’s kitchen, they pondered medical imaging software in a pitch black lecture theatre and… they came to OxGrow!

At OxGrow we debated Material Publics - politics, inclusion, experimentation and the “material world” (as in, the very palpable, physical, mucky world that we inhabit). We asked: Is foraging for food political? Is it a public act? How does a garden – tools, seeds, fruit and veg  - help us to think about the material world and its relation to politics? All of these questions were flung wide open by our surroundings; by the wind generator producing energy, the bee hive, the raised garden beds and the compost toilet. And so, what could have ended up as just another dry and disengaged academic discussion was enlivened by the signs of collective work and its fruitfulness.

Through our explorations of these themes, the group came to the same conclusion that we do every Sunday down at OxGrow – that planting, weeding, harvesting, composting, foraging and feasting builds community. And that participation can be a form of politics that works through doing rather than talking.

Yes!

If you’re into this kind of thing, you can read more about the finer (and geekier) details of our discussions on the Science and Technology Studies blog!

Blog by Cath Montgomery (sometime OxGrower, sometime researcher) and Doireann

Gardening for Finalists

Don’t be a hermit, grow vegetables.

 

By Rosie

I have been to the OxGrow garden in the snow. I have been to the OxGrow garden with flu, and I have been to the OxGrow garden slap bang in the middle of an essay crisis. But last week I couldn’t go.

May is upon us, and that means that the exams are looming and many of the student contingent of the OxGrow troops are busy trying to memorise  – say, post-Restoration picaresque Bakhtinian satirical ballad quotes, for example.* Finalists have to sit in enclosed spaces for long periods of time and the only gardening that takes place is the firm establishment of roots into the swivel office-chair that they have at their desk. The less-than-paper-friendly weather makes studying outside impossible, and so most of us find that we rarely get much of a slurp of sunshine during any particular day. But to miss the session last week came as something of a revelation, because it was only then that it occurred to me just how vital it is to get out, do hiking, digging, planting, even turf-lifting in the driving hail, just to get your body moving and feel like a person and not a nocturnal burrowing mammal.

But it doesn’t have to be a huge effort to get outdoors, and a half-hour walk a day is all you need to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy. So what are we waiting for, revision hermits? Let’s get out there!! Take a 15-minute wander around the nearest green patch you have in between lunch and your next stint of work to banish the post-food sleeps – walk the longest way possible to the supermarket to get your milk (bonus points if you do get genuinely lost) – even have a go at foraging to collect ingredients for your next dinner! Nettles, dock leaves, wild garlic, and all kinds of other things are in season and probably in your nearest weedy patch right now, just check online for the best things to pick when and be sure to check that the things you have picked are what you think they are before you eat huge poisonous handfuls of them. Some great foraging sites are:
foragable UK plants arranged by month 
fantastic printable guide from Countrylovers
BBC’s guide to foraging for absolute beginners
Don’t forget never, ever ever to eat anything that you are not absolutely sure is safe – and it might be a good idea to steer clear of mushrooms in general because they can be so deceptive – but if you can figure out what a nettle looks like, a thick nettle soup with a splash of cream and a big grind of nutmeg in it is one of spring’s most surprising and delicious luxuries.

Not to mention, having plants in your living space is a good way to keep your mind on an even keel (whether or not they oxygenate the room like in Hot Fuzz), so why not start a few mini-projects to keep things green until the summer? At the pound store you can buy little grow-your-own herb pots for a pound a pop, so you can watch your own little parsley seedlings getting big and leafy on your windowsill; this is particularly exciting during revision time when they are right in your line of vision, as you can pop out to the library for an afternoon and come back to find to your astonishment that they have grown an entire inch in the brief time you were out. You can grow avocados straight from a left-over avocado seed (you won’t get fruit but it will make a handsome house plant), grow a pineapple by sticking a pineapple top straight into a pot filled with soil, or fill a cut-off repurposed 2-litre plastic bottle with a bit of compost and grow your own salad mix  like the ones you pay a fortune for at an unnamed popular supermarket of your choice. You can even regrow celery once you’ve used it all as a hummous vehicle!

Finally, of course, there is one last thing that plants do for us finalists and the rest of us who might still be feeling a bit over-chocolated from Easter. Veg. Glorious, crunchy, juicy veg. Any period of intense work is the perfect time to have a go at some creative cooking, because while you’re chopping, sautéing and braising you can’t possibly do any work, making it a great hobby to take your mind off things in your free time. I like to try to get as many vegetables into any one dish as possible and, more importantly, to make sure there are as many different colours as possible. As Carole King once said, ‘Every stew should be a rainbow in a bowl.’ It is so easy to forget your five-a-day when you’re stressed and busy, but here are some fabulous high-veg recipes to try:
-squash and chickpea moroccan stew
-mixed vegetables with yoghurt and green chili oil
-ultra-delicious courgette-ribbon veggie lasagna
-curry-spiced vegetable fritters (by the by – this recipe is so tasty you may find yourself making it every week. And having them in sandwiches. Or for breakfast.)

It’s these small things that keep me going and stop me dissolving into a pale and malnourished Gollem-type creature; hopefully you’ll find something here that you also feel like giving a try! Of course, the easiest way to get your fix of outdoorsy organic bliss is to come to OxGrow every Sunday at 1pm, and make sure to come to the Asparagus Spring Festival on the 13th of May. Digging is cathartic, the crops are springing up already and you might just find you end up forgetting all about those things that rhyme with “leg-jams”.

* This is most definitely not a thing.