In 2018 we’ll be looking at ways to take the strain out of gardening.
Can we reduce the effort we put in, but still get a good harvest out?
We’ll be investigating various approaches including: mixed planting, green manures, mulching, choosing perennial vegetables and ‘no-dig gardening’; and attempting to find ways to reduce time spent watering whilst still meeting our plants’ needs.
Have you got any ideas? Do share them on our Facebook Group or via our contact form, or come along to one of our working parties or events.
For 2017 our theme was ‘See how it Grows: Gardening, Cooking and Eating with Children’. We looked at ways of involving children in gardening, cooking with fresh vegetables, herbs and fruit, and enjoying the results!
In conjunction with Energy Alton, we showed Project Wild Thing, a film which looks at the importance of getting children away from their screens, and letting them discover and explore the great out-doors.
In the spring we gave seven primary schools in Alton an apple tree.
For the school competition we asked children to design a garden based on the ingredients for a recipe, be it a dessert, main course, drink or snack e.g. strawberry lemonade, pizza, or soup. The prizes were handed out at our first Community picnic at the Jubilee Fields orchard, where we also had a children’s scavenger hunt, apple and spoon race and a competition for a hat with a fruity theme.
Our 2016 theme was ‘Greening the Grey’ – inspired by the ‘Greening Grey Britain‘ RHS initiative. We supported opportunities to reverse the trend towards dull, concreted front-gardens and drives, which are no good for wildlife, and no good for us humans!
Our theme for 2015 was ‘Useful flowers in the Vegetable Garden’ We asked children to design a poster to illustrate any aspect of this.
We were astonished and really pleased to receive over 300 entries from 7 schools. There was a huge variety of ideas represented in different media. The standard was very high and Ty had a very difficult job judging.
For 2014 our theme was ‘Growing and Using Herbs.’ We gave all the local schools some herbs to plant in their gardens, and our Schools Competition was to design a herb garden on paper, for which we had some great entries.
Our theme for 2013 was ‘Growing in Containers’ which we put into practice in our plots with varied amounts of success. Peas, salad crops, carrots and strawberries all flourished in a variety of different containers, but courgettes struggled in the hot, dry summer months.
The ‘Unusual container’ – a pair of large boxer shorts – entered in the ‘Alton in bloom’ competition was awarded a Silver-gilt certificate.
In 2012 the theme was ‘Growing Fruit’. With permission from Alton Town Council, and encouragement from deputy Town Clerk, Greg Burt and the groundsmen, we planted five fruit trees – 2 apples, a pear, a cherry and a plum – behind the pavilion at the Jubilee Sports Field. This is the start of a Community Orchard.
We were able to donate fruit bushes or trees to each of the primary schools in the town, and we planted fruit bushes in our plots at Westbrooke Road and the Station.
In 2011 all these activities continued and our other focus was that ALFI cultivated a one-acre pilot plot to called ‘Alfi Community Farm’, growing vegetables as a co-operative scheme. In 2012 those who worked on this plot became a separate group called the Stoneyfield Growers, and they continued the scheme as a shared allotment.
Our theme for 2010 was ‘Growing in small spaces’ and we started to cultivate plots and planters around the town to demonstrate this. We also started annual events, e.g. seed and seedling swaps; talks about aspects of growing vegetables; working parties on our plots; the production of a quarterly newsletter; worked with local schools to support and encourage them to learn how to grow vegetables and promoted garden share schemes.