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August 2018

In this month's newsletter:

  • green drinks

  • September harvest supper

  • biochar

  • Old Sun Brow Apple Tree

  • allotment report

  • joybells apple tree


Green drinks

There is no theme to green drinks in August. Nevertheless, some of us will show up at The Mill at 8pm on Thursday 2 August for an informal chat. Please join us if you wish.

Summer barbecue

We enjoyed a relaxing sociable summer barbecue at Swan Barn Farm


September harvest supper

Our September green drinks will take the form of a harvest supper – a meal of shared dishes held in a lovely old barn close to the town. We will also have a discussion on preserving – making jams, jellies, pickles and other ways to preserve the harvest. You are invited to bring recipes to share or produce to taste or share. From 6.30pm Friday 21 September. (The Haslemere Food Festival is the following day.) More details will follow in the September newsletter. Bring friends and family. It is a free event, but you will need to register to get the venue details. You can register your interest now by emailing us at info@transitionhaslemere.org.uk

Biochar for your garden

You may already use National Trust charcoal on your barbecue. Now you could add the Trust's 'biochar' to your soil to improve its productivity. Biochar is a by-product of the charcoal making process – essentially the small debris left at the end of the process. It is claimed that adding biochar can improve soil health, filter and retain nutrients from percolating water, and store carbon. It was discovered in soil in the Amazon basin where indigenous people were producing exceptional crops from land containing biochar. The grander claims for biochar are disputed, particularly as a large-scale solution for mitigating climate change by storing carbon – you can read a full report here. If you want to try biochar for yourself – a locally produced by-product – contact Spike Brooker at spike.brooker@nationaltrust.org.uk, 01428 652359.


Tree of the month: Old Sun Brow Apple Tree

The Old Sun Brow Apple Tree (Malus domestica), shown up against the telegraph pole, about 7 metres tall and laden with fruit. Growing on a vigorous root stock, over the years The Old Sun Brow Apple has against the odds managed to compete with the other larger native oak and ash trees growing on the steep slopes of this small deciduous wood.

Thanks to Gareth Matthes for drawing our attention to the tree.

(The wood is the area that Waverley Borough Council has offered Haslemere in exchange for de-registering the Fairground common land in Wey Hill currently used as an informal car park and tarmacking it over and turning it into a paid-for parking area. The Planning Inspectorate for common land is reported to have received over 50 objections from local people about the proposal.)

Do you know of a special tree in Haslemere that we could feature in our newsletter? It could be special for botanical, historical, cultural or other reasons. If you do, tell us its location and what makes it special. Include a photo if you can. Email it to info@transitionhaslemere.org.uk


Summer at the allotment

Weather conditions have been challenging this month, the heat of the day making work less appealing than stopping for a drink and a sit down! The lack of rain has demanded that we visit in the evenings to water.

We have had some surprising successes, and we are still harvesting salads, beetroot, beans, lots of herbs, with a good crop of apples awaiting the autumn and, we hope, potatoes underground. There will be a potato harvesting party, with refreshments, at some point during the summer break.

Watch this space!

On the subject of potatoes, we saw the first signs of Late Blight on the leaves this week, and had to make a decision about measures in response to a problem exacerbated by the watering we have had to do. (Blight requires high humidity in order to spread – but watering is required to maximise the

crop.) Although Bordeaux mixture (a copper compound) has in the past been permitted for organic growers, the Soil Association now sees a move towards resistant varieties and changes in husbandry, rather than continue to use something which may persist in the soil and possibly harm soil organisms including earthworms. It seems Bordeaux mixture may soon be banned, so we

decided not to use it this year, but rather to cut off the tops now, to remove the risk of allowing the spores to form fully and possibly be carried in the air to other plots and crops (tomatoes are also

susceptible). Tops can be composted if covered by other material, or burned, and potato tubers should be left in the ground for three weeks until any spores on the soil surface have died. More information here:

Please watch your home crops for signs, as it is likely conditions for the spread of potato blight are being met now.

We are rapidly moving towards the completion of the raised beds, and are pleased with the results.

Finally the wildflower area is very colourful and continues to attract a huge number of pollinating insects. We have seen recently fledged robins and blackbirds, frogs, toads, and even, surprisingly, a common lizard, testifying to the value of these mixed and productive habitats for wildlife.

You can use this link to sign up for allotment updates.

Joybells – our new apple tree

Clive Davidson of Transition Haslemere hands over a cheque for £250 to Dave Elliott, National Trust head ranger for Black Down, to sponsor a new apple tree in the Swan Barn Farm orchard. We chose a joybells traitional variety. We raised the money selling secondhand books at the monthly farmers' market – turning books back into trees.

July 2018

In this month's newsletter:

  • summer barbecue

  • allotment report

  • countryside crafts day

  • climate change and me

  • Portugal laurel


No green drinks this month – instead …


… Summer barbecue

Join us for an informal and convivial evening in the lovely setting of the National Trust's Swan Barn Farm centre. Bring your own food and drink. We provide the fire. Children, families and friends welcome. From 6.30pm on Friday 13 July. For more information email info@transitionhaslemere.org


Allotment report

Despite marauding pigeons and slugs, and a few disappointment and failures of some seeds and plants we are just as enthusiastic about the allotment. We have already harvested salads, rhubarb, strawberries and raspberries. This month's tasks are:

   – continuing with raised beds
   – weed spotting
   – clearing the fence line
   – getting a few last seeds and plants into the soil
   – watering!!!

We look forward to seeing those of you who can make it at one of our regular allotment meet-upsThursday 1pm – 3pm and Saturday 10am – 12noon. You can use this link to sign up for allotment updates.


Countryside crafts day

The National Trust is holding a family friendly day of traditional craft demonstrations and with opportunities to join in. Have a go making roof shingles, willow weaving, pencils and fencing products. There will also be falconry displays, bats, reptiles and amphibians, with refreshments available. Swan Barn Farm, 10.30am to 4pm, Saturday 28 July.


Link of the month: Climate change and me

A Radio 4 podcast in which series five eminent scientists describe the dramatic changes to the natural world that they have witnessed on the ground and tell how their eyes were opened to global climate change. You can listen or download it here.


Tree corner: Portugal laurel

Splashes of yellowy-white have dotted Haslemere over the past few weeks as Portugal laurel (Prunus lusitanica) has flowered spectacularly. Although usually planted as a hedge for its attractive dense foliage, which is a soft shiny green and reddish when young, it becomes a shapely tree if left to grow naturally. The small white flowers with yellow centres grow on long racemes, or stalks, that droop like a waterfall. The show of colour, plus the heady scent and the buzz of insects after the nectar makes the tree a rich sensual experience at this time of the year.

June 2018

In this month's newsletter:

  • back on Facebook

  • food co-op and hub

  • going vegan notes

  • summer barbecue

  • allotment report

  • Bioblitz event

  • Chiddgreen birthday

  • plastic programmes

  • tree: rauli


We are back on Facebook –

– as Transition Haslemere Live. You can follow us here.


Food co-op and hub

At our June green drinks we will be discussing how we might expand Haslemere's food cooperative and whether we could set up a food hub where local producers and consumers can have direct contact with one another. 8.00pm Thursday 7 June 2018 at The Mill, Liphook Rd, Haslemere GU27 3QE


Going vegan notes

Joyce D'Silva's notes from her talk last month on 'Why and how to be a vegan' are posted on our website – you will find them here


Summer barbecue

A date for your diary is our summer barbecue from 6.30pm on Friday  13 July. We hope you will join us for a convivial evening in the lovely setting of the National Trust's Swan Barn Farm centre.


Allotment report


Despite very wet weather early in the season and a late start, we are now catching up with sowing and planting, salads, roots, herbs and peas and beans. The raised bed construction is not finished yet, but is progressing well. We hope to have our first crops within the next few weeks – rocket, radish, chives, loose leaf lettuce. We are never too busy to enjoy coffee and biscuits, and discussion of all things green and continue to welcome new members to the group.

We are continuing with the usual meeting times Thursday 1pm – 3pm and Saturday 10am – 12noon. You can use this link to sign up for allotment updates.


Bioblitz day

Join the National Trust and South Downs National Park for a free day of biodiversity discovery. Bring a picnic and stay all day to learn about the creatures that live on the heath. Alternatively, just go for your favourite species slot. Tuesday 31 July – 09.00, birds. 10.00, reptiles and amphibians. 11.00 butterflies. 13.00 mini Beasts. 14.00 heathland plants. For more information: heathlands@southdowns.gov.uk or call: 01730 819320

Happy birthday Chiddgreen

Chiddgreen formed in 1998 to put into practice locally the sustainability goals of the Rio Earth Summit. For the past 20 years the group has held events such as 'swap-it' days, electric bike demonstrations and woodland events and generally been the 'green' conscience of Chiddingfold. Transition Haslemere, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in October, sends it congratulations and will continue working with the group on shared projects and goals. For more information contact info@chiddgreen.uk.


Link of the month: Plastic Fantastic

A three-part Radio 4 series by materials scientist and broadcaster Professor Mark Miodownik on plastic waste and pollution looking at how and why we've ended up with oceans of waste blighting the environment and what science and society can do about it. Includes an informative discussion on the different types of plastics, the challenges of recycling and emerging solutions. The three half-hour programmes are available on BBC iPlayer – you can click here for programmes one, two and three.


Tree corner: Rauli


It is rare to find one of the southern hemisphere's 40 beech species around Haslemere, but there is a group of raulis (Nothofagus nervosa) on the western side of Black Down. Rauli is a forest tree from central Chile and western Argentina that can grow to 25 metres. It has a smooth bark like local beech, developing long fissures with age. The leaves are similar to hornbeam, but darker and with up to 18 pairs of veins. The tree is grown in parts of Britain for its timber. It naturalises easily and is flourishing on Black Down.

May 2018

In this month’s newsletter:

  • resubscribe

  • going vegan

  • allotment update

  • Charter Fair

  • dawn chorus

  • repair cafes

  • summer barbecue

  • month of the magnolia


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Going vegan at May green drinks

Why and how to be a vegan – an informal talk by Joyce D’Silva, who has been a vegan for 43 years. 8.00pm Thursday 3 May 2018 at The Mill, Liphook Rd, Haslemere GU27 3QE

Allotment happenings

Nature is bursting into life with force after the recent sunny and wet weather. We have planted a plum tree, sowed wild flowers (last season the wildflower area was a great success), cleared the remainder of last year’s spinach and kale (amazing how plants keep producing food), and we have enjoyed the sun.

We are continuing with the usual meeting times Thursday 1pm – 3pm and Saturday 10am – 12noon. You can use this link to sign up for allotment updates.

Plants and books at the Charter Fair

We will be at the farmers’ market on Sunday 6 May and at the Charter Fair on Monday 7 May, 1-5pm in the town centre, where we will have our secondhand bookstall and have plants for sale.

Dawn chorus

We will be up with the birds on Sunday 6 May to celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day in a wood near Grayswood. We will gather at 4.30am to hear the the birds sing the day into life – and then have coffee and bacon butties round a campfire. To join us please email info@transitionhaslemere.org for directions.

As John Lewis-Stempel said: “To stand alone in a field in England and listen to the chorus of birds is to remember why life is prescious.”


Summer barbecue

A date for your diary is our summer barbecue from 6.30pm on Friday  13 July. We hope you will join us for a convivial evening in the lovely setting of Swan Barn Farm.

Link of the month: Repair cafes

Repair Cafes are meeting places where volunteers fix everyday things to extend their life and avoid creating landfill waste. There are nearly 1,500 repair cafes worldwide so far, including a monthly one in Farnham, where they fix things like clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery and toys. You will find more about them here, and the one in Farnham here. We are looking at how we might apply the concept in Haslemere.

Tree corner: Month of the magnolia

April was the month of the magnolia. A number of species flower before their leaves appear, creating grand displays of white tinged with pink or purple. Magnolias were among the earliest flowering trees to evolve; their relatively simple flowers have tepals rather than petals and are designed to attract beetles rather than bees, which they pre-date. Most of the deciduous varieties in Haslemere originate in China and Japan, or are hybrids. The evergreen magnolias around the town are often grandiflora from the United States, and flower later.

April 2018

In this month’s newsletter:

  • small farm film

  • going vegan

  • Spring at the allotment

  • Charter Fair

  • dawn chorus

  • biodiverstiy danger

  • flowering trees


People, food and the land – a film

At our April green drinks, we will be showing In Our Hands, a film by The Land Workers’ Alliance – an organisation of people making their livelihoods from producing food, fuel and fibre using sustainable methods. The film tells the story of small producers challenging the need for the industrialisation of food production and the need to maintain the fundamental link between people, food and land. Ed Brooks, local vegetable grower and member of the Alliance, will answer questions after the screening.

We are holding the event in association with St Stephen’s Church – the first church in Haslemere to win an ‘Eco Church’ award.

Thursday 5 April, St Stephen’s Church, Church Road, Haslemere GU27 1NS. Drinks and chat from 7.30pm; the film will start at 8pm. Free. All welcome.


Going vegan at May green drinks

Why and how to be a vegan – an informal talk by Joyce D’Silva, who has been a vegan for 43 years. 8.00pm Thursday 3 May 2018 at The Mill, Liphook Rd, Haslemere GU27 3QE

Spring at our allotment

Spring has arrived after some very cold spells, and birds, bees and even

butterflies have emerged and are looking lively. As the ground warms up we

will be getting back to work on the Transition Allotment. There is plenty

to do, both in the way of getting ready to plant and construction of the

raised beds. We hope to welcome back last year’s participants, and invite

new members to join us at plot 13A, Collards Lane, on Thursday 5th April at 1pm, or Saturday 7th April at 10 am.

For directions or more information contact info@transitionhaslemere.org

Plants and books at the Charter Fair

Regrettably, we will not be at the farmers’ markets on 1 April. But we will be at the Charter Fair on Monday 7 May, 1-5pm in the town centre, where we will have our secondhand bookstall and have plants for sale.

Dawn chorus

We will be up with the birds on Sunday 6 May to celebrate International Dawn Chorus Day in a wood near Grayswood. More details in next month’s newsletter.


Link of the month: Biodiversity in dangerous decline

Biodiversity – the essential variety of life forms on Earth – continues to decline in every region of the world, endangering economies, livelihoods, food security and the quality of life of people everywhere, according to four new landmark science reports. The reports also highlight options to protect and restore nature and its vital contributions to people. You can find the reports here. And a media summary here.

Tree corner: Flowering trees

Over the next couple of months, as trees such as cherry, blackthorn and rowan dazzle us with their showy blossoms, it will be easy to overlook the fact that all trees must flower to propagate as many of our native species do so inconspicuously. This is because they are wind pollinated so have no need of colourful flowers or heady scents to attract insects. Some species, such as hazel, alder and birch, dangle male catkins, but their female flowers are small, or tiny in the case of hazel. Others have flowers that are pale green and unobtrusive and you will have to look closely to find them, such as oak, beech and field maple, or the yew as in in the photo .

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