All posts by soniaclark

ALFI community picnic was a fruity event

Our first community picnic took place on Sunday 3 September on a rather rainy afternoon at the Jubilee Orchard on the Jubilee Playing Fields next to the Sports Centre where ALFI (Alton Local Food Initiative) have an orchard of fifteen fruit trees.

A range of activities were organised for participants, the fields looked splendid with newly-cut grass and some of the fruit trees were full of fruit and all were decorated with attractive bunting for the occasion. The afternoon included a conducted tour of the orchard to look at the range of apple, pear, plum, cherry and quince trees. Balloons that the children could take home decorated the area and guided participants to the event.

The main table was attractively laid out with a basket of fruit and flowers and had cut apples pears and apples to sample, dried apple slices, bramley jam pancakes, courgette cake and freshly picked local blackberries to sample or take away.

Picnics were eaten under the shelter of the pavillion whilst hot drinks and squash were provided in the pavillion.

Emily Crofts prepared a scavenger hunt for the children that directed them towards the orchard and an apple and spoon race had two heats with a final that was won by Sophie Tomson, one of the children, although the adults also enjoyed the heat that they participated in.

There were some imaginative hats with a fruity theme entered for the hat competition, from real fruit to a waste paper bin with fruit painted on it … and everything in between. The children’s section was won by Elise Clark, four years, with a hat straw cap that she had decorated herself, face paint reinforcing the fruity theme. Melissa Pritchard won the adult section with an elegant apple hat made of paper with a toilet roll core. (It needed to be seen to be appreciated!)

Our school’s competition prizewinners, in front of entries from Alton’s schools

Prizes were given to all the winners and those who had won the schools competition earlier in the year were also invited to receive their prizes.


We all had a fun time and we were pleased we could go ahead in spite of the weather, thanks to everyone who came, the sun is ordered for next time.  In the mean-time please come to the ALFI Harvest Feast, with special guest Apple Experts from Sparsholt College on Saturday 30 September at 10.00 a.m. until 2.00 p.m. for coffee and homemade cakes at any time and/or vegetable soups and bread at lunchtime. This is indoors at Alton Methodist Church Hall. See you there.

New noticeboards for ALFI

ALFI needed several new noticeboards to use for ALFI activities and events.  The most pressing was to replace that at the Station Plot, but we also needed one for the new Vicarage Plot, adjacent to the Allen Gallery. Ian Scott of Mens Sheds  made them for us and with a volunteer from the Alton Mens Sheds  put up the two smart purpose-built noticeboards in suitable positions at these two sites on Friday 18 March.  Sally, who leads on the Station Plot and Ann, who leads on the Vicarage Plot, were there to advise on the sitings. The noticeboards were immediately put to good use to advertise the Seedling Swap and our theme for this year, Greening Grey Britain as part of the RHS initiative.

New branding signs

Today we’ve added three more branding posts to those ALFI have already, to identify their plots and planters. These were added to the smaller plot at the station beside the taxi office, the barrel outside Out and About on Southview Rise and the newly acquired library planter. James, of Graphitec, who produced the signs for us, kindly came round with me today to hammer them into position …

and very smart they look too.


Seedy Saturday success

Saturday 6 February saw the annual Alton Local Food Initiative (ALFI) Seedy Saturday (seed swap) at the Methodist Church Hall. We had many trays full of  packets of vegetable, herb and flower seeds for swapping or for taking away for a donation. We offered coffee, tea and biscuits, which gave to opportunity for people to sit and chat after discussing and deciding which seeds to grow this year.

Thank you to our regulars, who come to our Seedy Saturday each year, and who also often follow up by bringing any excess seedlings to our annual Seedling Swap, which is 7 May this year, as part of the craft market in Cross and Pillory.

We had a very good turnout again this year and we made a healthy profit, thanks to the generosity of the donations for seeds from those who didn’t want to take the option of swapping. We use our funds for maintaining plots and planters and the orchard. We have just taken on gardening a new planter outside the library. The sign is already there and it will gradually become a herb planter.


Barrel has arrived

ALFI recently ordered and took ownership of a new barrel, thanks to a grant for the purpose, for the Station Plot, to replace the one that was falling apart (see final image). Sally and I (Sonia) received it and immediately filled it with soil and compost in readiness for planting courgettes.