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My Project

What's your sustainable community project?

5 Dec 2011 8:07

I now live in Oldham where my current project is an allotment! It is brand new - and we have only had access since Spring 2011. The work to create paths and a car parking space has been done by the company who have been sorting out the local motorway as they had to leave a legacy for the people of Chadderton.

I'm hoping that the allotments here at the bottom end of Chadderton will be as fun and educational for local children as my gran's garden was for me. We've got plans for a community plot, and communal fruit trees as well as plans to grow fruit and vegetables for local residents.


Search for the Hero

20 Sep 2012 10:00

M people sang that "You've got to search for the hero inside yourself." And they're absolutely right. Whilst I'd love you to vote for me and my project it's more important that you take some small steps in your own life.

The difference £10,000 would make to my project is enormous. It'd enable us to have composting toilets put on the site which would then mean we could have more activities for local people and involve local groups like schools, scouts and other groups. It'd give us a community space too - a simple building we could store tools and wellies in, and where we could shelter from the rain. We're not after a fancy building - just something basic like a steel storage container to store things in.

This would make a massive difference to the allotment site and mean we could hold more events and invite more people to enjoy the site.

If we don't win this money then it won't stop us working towards our goals. Whoever you vote for, I hope you take inspiration from them and their project and start something for yourself too.

Don't be put off by thinking you can only make a tiny difference. Even small projects are worth while - and don't forget that mighty oak trees start from tiny acorns! Click below for some more ideas on making a difference - and keep searching for that Hero.

If every person who votes makes a tiny effort to do something to reduce their carbon footprint then all those tiny footprints will add up to a massive effort overall!

If every person who votes also speaks to a friend to encourage them to recycle more, use less water, save energy, or even just sends them the link to this voting page then things will really start to happen!

Each week you could aim to share a hint with someone. Maybe just post on facebook that you've started composting, just planted some lettuce seeds, or that you've cut your electricity bill by only boiling the right amount of water you need for a brew.

Every day you could try to do something to help the planet. From recycling more, to turning the lights off when you leave a room, to asking at your work what you can do to save energy.

Each day you could take small steps at home to reduce your carbon footprint.


Valuing the energy that we use

11 Aug 2012 12:32

Having seen in the EDF pavilion how hard it is to generate electricity reinforces how important it is to not waste any!

On the allotment site, we like to source as many materials as possible second-hand. For example, recycling other people's waste building materials has played a big part creating the bases for our new water storage containers. 


I hope we continue to recycle this way - even if it's hard work collecting materials. A group of us recently collected 50 concrete blocks and 5 tons of aggregate to use on the allotment site. These were all free to us and were items that would have otherwise been put in a skip!

Inspirational flowers

7 Aug 2012 15:23

The Olympic Park is an amazing venue, transforming what was former industrial wasteland into a haven of beautiful flowers and wildlife friendly planting.

The wildflower meadows are breathtaking! It was wonderful to see so many people admiring them too. In such a busy venue people still made time to stop and take in the flowers!

The park has created 45 hectares of new wildlife habitat as well as using techniques to manage rainfall into the river. The lasting legacy of the games sustainability has to include the fact it's the biggest new urban park created in Europe for 150 years. That's really something to be proud of.

Simply brilliant

6 Aug 2012 17:43

I really enjoyed our visit to the Olympic Park today. I liked the simple measures put in place to help every visitor to the park to make that visit more sustainable: Free drinking water available for people to refill bottles rather than buy a new bottle and the special bins for separating out rubbish so that more can be recycled or composted.

I hope that people who go to the Olympics will carry on these simple measures when they get home. Click on the link below for some simple ideas to help:

Reusing a water bottle can save an enormous amount of plastic compared to having a new bottle every time you empty one, not to mention the energy and carbon used making and  transporting it.

Recycling your household waste is something so basic that most people are used to doing it anyway, but making sure you recycle waste when you're away from home is important too! If you can't see recycling bins then just take your rubbish home with you and put it in your own recycling bins.

Planting a few seeds in a pot is simple, easy and will get you great rewards! Grow some flowers for the butterflies and bees, or grow something you can eat! Whatever you decide to grow you'll discover that planting a tiny seed can produce something amazing, and once you've started growing you'll want to do more!  The huge swathes of flowers at the Olympic Park are really inspirational and I hope they'll encourage people to be more interested in growing plants at home!

Summer Gardening Ideas

10 Jul 2012 9:20

Make the most of the amazing summer weather we've been having by installing water butts and collecting as much of the lovely rain as you can.

Click below for some more ideas for staying on top of the garden, saving energy and helping the all-important bees!

Look at getting a push mower. It just uses your energy not petrol or electricity.

Mow your lawn less often if you're worried there's a drought still.

Cut the grass when it's not too long and leave the grass clippings on the lawn as a mulch. You don't need to do this every cut, but allow some clippings to remain will help the grass survive dry weather better.

Grass can survive long periods of drought so don't worry about it too much. It'll even survive being under water too.

Try taking cuttings from your favourite shrubs in your garden. Pass them on to friends when you know they've taken root!

Make sure you make your garden more bee friendly this year! Buy some plants they'll love! Even shrubs can provide copious amounts of flowers for the bees to enjoy! Pick carefully as some plants like Cotoneaster horizontalis will also have berries for the birds too! Don't plant these too near paths though.

Fruit against the odds

1 Jul 2012 11:32

One of the fruit trees we planted in the spring now has apples on it!

It was a very exciting moment when we realised this! Whilst we'd seen the blossom earlier in the year we were convinced the awful weather would have ruined any chances of fruit! Out of the trees planted we've only got one that's fruited but that is one more than we imagined!

This is the first year for these trees in our orchard so it's quite an achievement.

Despite all the rain everything seems to be growing although there are lots of slug issues at the moment! The weather is favouring the weeds too and there's tons of weeding to do!


Solar Update

23 Jun 2012 13:51

We've hit the longest day and it's all downhill from here in terms of daylight hours! We've had the solar panels installed for 170 days now and have generated 1497.9 Kwh of electricity!

The best day so far has generated 22.9kwh during the recent sunny spell we had. Compared to an average of about 8 units a day it's pretty impressive! Sadly the weather's been fairly gloomy of late!

How you can help the bees

12 Jun 2012 18:13

Everywhere I look there are bees! Since the beekeeping meeting I went to I have been even more aware of the bees around me.

Here's a beautiful bee on my broad beans! 

Bees are essential for pollinating out food crops so it's essential to do everything you can to help them! I'm looking at increasing the bee friendly plants in my own garden as well as on my allotment to ensure that there's plenty of good sources for nectar and pollen for all pollinating insects.

I noticed in my mum's garden that there were hundreds of bees on one of the shrubs! I have found an offshoot of it with roots and bought it home to pot up so I can have my own bee shrub!

Bees are everywhere and it's amazing to hear how loud they hum and buzz on sunny days when they are happy visiting flowers! 
What could you do to help bees? Planting a few flowers in your garden - simple open type flowers are best. Most garden centres will help you find bee friendly plants - some even include a bee logo on those that are especially good! 

By just planting a few extra flowers we can all help these essential insects help us!

Avoid using insect sprays too - there are some nasty chemicals that can seriously damage bees so avoid these completely!

You can also allow the odd vegetable to go to flower - leave a beetroot or cabbage in and let it flower - it's interested to see the flowers of different plants, as well as providing unusual foods for the bees.

The Eco Kettle Trial

7 Jun 2012 13:33

The Eco Kettle is a bit more complicated than your average kettle. But once you've got used to the measurements on the front it's fairly easy to boil the exact amount of water you want.


You fill a reservoir through the lid and then use the knob on the top to push water into the boiler side. The boiler side is marked so you can judge exactly how much water you are boiling.

If you fill the reservoir up then it makes the kettle quite heavy for boiling just one cup of water. The kettle is available in two styles with a funky chrome version. It has blue LED lights which are on when it's boiling.

This is a low energy kettle. It isn't as fast as a higher energy kettle that would typically be around 3kw.  By boiling just the amount of water you want it can help you to use less energy. This kettle should encourage people to think about how much water they are actually boiling each time they brew up. Cutting down on the excess water boiled could even help reduce people's energy bills and reduce energy wastage which has to be a good thing! Boiling less water also helps you get your cup of tea quicker which is even better!

Jubilee Party

6 Jun 2012 8:05

The Jubilee Party on Cartmel Crescent was a major success. Lots of people came and enjoyed themselves with food, refreshments and a fabulous celebration cake. There was a bouncy castle for the children too, which was hugely popular.

Despite living a few doors away from each other, several people had never spoken to their neighbours until this event. Everyone enjoyed themselves and more events are planned in the backings area so it has really brought the community together.

I've discovered that as well as the party for the 1981 Royal Wedding there was also a Jubilee event in 1977, which I am going to try and track down photos from! It's inspired me to do more research on the street I live in! 

Bee Keeping

5 Jun 2012 12:45

One of the plot holders is looking at taking up bee keeping. She'll be keeping a hive in her garden to start with guidance from the local beekeepers. In the future it'd be nice to have several hives on the allotment site itself.

The Big Lunch is coming

27 May 2012 15:45

I've been organising a big lunch event on my street - as an aside to my allotment project. It's going to be on Monday 4th June. It will celebrate the Jubilee and be a fantastic day for people to come out and meet their neighbours.

I was asked by some of the mums on my street about what could be done about the area behind the houses in the middle of the street. It had got a bit run down over time and really needed a tidy up to make it safe for the children to play in again. So we held a short meeting to look at what people wanted to do.

We decided a community clear up followed by a picnic would be the best thing to do to build up some real community spirit and get people thinking about the possibilities for the space.

As part of the preparation we had a clean up day where 15 local people gave up their Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago. Everyone had a great day and we filled a massive skip full of rubbish and weeds. The space is now much tidier and looks fantastic. A couple of people have also tidied up their back fences as a result making the place look much smarter too! It has also inspired people to help each other get their gardens neat and tidy too!

One of our local councillors attended the clean up and got stuck in too!

The local councillors are helping with a small amount of money to pay for a bouncy castle for the little children to play on at the event.

There's going to be a barbeque and it's going to be lots of fun as we are going to try to organise some 'it's a knock out' style games for the kids to play! Someone has even donated some home made wine! People are very excited about the idea of all coming together as a community!

There are some people who don't know very many people on the street and will get chance to meet their neighbours properly at a relaxing social event.

Decorating with bunting will start in the morning of the 4th June and we are all hoping that it's a sunny warm day for the picnic.

Let's hope the day goes well and that people get to know their neighbours better. As well as building community spirit it will give us an idea of what everyone wants to have in the backings area and move forward to achieving those goals.

Whatever it ends up as - whether it's a peaceful place to sit, a beautiful garden area or just a social space for people to meet up and have neighbourhood parties, it's going to be interesting to see what develops.

One of the things that sparked my interest in this project was a set of negatives we'd discovered a while ago. The photos showed a party held in the backings on this street in 1981 for the royal wedding of Charles and Diana. It was a traditional style street party with Union Jack flags and lots of people having fun eating at long trestle tables!

It seems so appropriate to celebrate another royal event with another street party in the same place!

Spring is here

15 Apr 2012 7:30

The allotments are starting to come to life again as people set about getting ready for the growing season ahead. Whilst we've had a couple of people drop out and had to find new people to replace them, it has been fairly easy to find people interested and we have added two new members from our street!

We leafleted the neighbouring streets to find not only new people for allotments but asking for donations of materials for our communal areas. We had an offer of a pond liner so we hope to have that up and running soon, we've also had plant pots, chicken wire and a picnic table donated.

Plans for Easter

31 Mar 2012 8:28

With the help and support from our local police team we have acquired a number of plant pots which will be useful for a gardening club we plan to run during the school holidays.  

The Easter holiday at the start of April will be an ideal opportunity to open our gates to let the community in and help get kids started planting things.  There are lots of things that children can be encouraged to grow - broad beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow. Sunflowers are also fun with the added competition aspect of who'll grow the tallest flower.

Potato planting

24 Mar 2012 17:27

On my own plot I'm about to start planting my potatoes - the first earlies (generally known as new potatoes) will be a real treat. I've got plenty of weeding to be doing though too, as the mild winter hasn't really stopped them growing. I know now why couch grass is called couch grass: Because it makes you want to go and lie on the sofa.

Rats Tail Radishes

17 Mar 2012 19:14

In the next few weeks I'm also going to be making up pots of 'rats tail radishes' for people to grow. These are really unusual aerial radishes rather than the root ones that people are more familiar with. They are pretty easy to grow and you get lots of radishes per plant so are well worth while growing a few in a tub. These are easy to grow from seeds collected from last years plants.

Fruit tree planting

29 Feb 2012 11:34

The allotment group got together in February to plant some fruit trees. One of the local supermarkets got a load in for only £4 each and this was too good an opportunity to pass up. We've planted 9 so far but hope to get a few more in if possible to complete the communal


In the future this orchard will be the focus of fruit picking events for the local community.
Fruit trees will benefit the site for years to come providing hopefully tons of free fruit for local residents over the years.

Planting a fruit tree is so simple, yet brings long term benefits of
free fruit for years to come. It's something that more people should
be doing. Why plant an ornamental tree when fruit trees are just as
pretty to look at with their blossom in Spring but with the promise of
edible fruit later in the year.

The whole idea behind our project was to involve the community as much
as possible and part of this is to encourage people to grow some food
at home themselves. I've been giving away strawberry runners and raspberry
canes and now have several blackcurrant bushes to give away too.
Strawberries produce plenty of runners so it's easy to pot these up
and pass them on. The blackcurrant bushes have been grown from

I've also got lots of pots of herbs to give to local residents too.
These have been grown either by seed, or in the case of mint by root

What's your sustainable community project?

5 Dec 2011 8:07

I now live in Oldham where my current project is an allotment! It is brand new - and we have only had access since Spring 2011. The work to create paths and a car parking space has been done by the company who have been sorting out the local motorway as they had to leave a legacy for the people of Chadderton.

I'm hoping that the allotments here at the bottom end of Chadderton will be as fun and educational for local children as my gran's garden was for me. We've got plans for a community plot, and communal fruit trees as well as plans to grow fruit and vegetables for local residents.

What's your Green Inspiration?

10 Nov 2011 12:19

I know I'm not the greenest person on the planet, not by a long way but I try my best! I do try to boil only the water I need for a drink, turn lights off and turn the heating down!

My biggest inspiration was probably my grandmother. She had an amazing garden that grew lots of fruit and vegetables. She had several different types of plum trees, a pear trees, apple trees and a damson tree too. In addition there was a huge strawberry patch, other fruit bushes and lots of different vegetables. She reused things, recycled wool into new jumpers, made jam and pickles.

I realised how lucky I'd been growing up with access to all this when I was living in inner city Manchester. I wanted my son to experience at least some of the fun I'd had growing up with such an amazing garden. I started growing vegetables in the front garden, and was always being stopped by people walking past to ask what the strange looking plants were. I found that growing Brussels sprouts where everyone could see them was certainly a talking point.

I reuse and recycle things where possible. I like to walk and cycle, and keep the car use to a minimum.  Doing small things can make a big difference. I like to encourage the other people to do their bit too. I'm probably one of the few people in the country who thinks we should probably have another wheelie bin if it means we could recycle something else.


About me

Diane recognises that the Earth has no back up plan. As a result, she does everything possible to reduce her impact, never flying and only driving when absolutely necessary. She campaigned to have waste land near her home turned into allotments. Now the land has been transformed into a much greener environment where local residents can grow their own fruit and veg. Her project involves a fully sustainable community building next to the allotments.

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