Week 2: Braving the Dark
(Full disclosure: the following banner photo is meant to entice you to come to OxGrow.
It isn't intended to illustrate the title of this week's newsletter.)
Afternoon, sun loving friends.
It's that glorious time of year: the all-knowing clock masters at Greenwich's Laboratory have ordered us obedient agronomists to turn our clocks back one hour on Sunday at 2am. And we will follow orders! While that means we'll have less daylight in the evenings, we don't actually need to pull out our headlamps for at least another two weeks - so rejoice! And enjoy (semi-)bright sessions at OxGrow while the getting's good. (For a deeper understanding/appreciation of daylight savings, please study this 4:20 segment (do your funnybone a favor and watch at least the first two minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvpbW7JRu0Q) )
We'll be in the garden this Sunday the 26th October from noon–5pm. All folks are welcome. Arrive at any time. And stay as long as you'd like. No questions asked. (Well, maybe a few, but just for the sake of conversation, etc.)
Our Wednesday session will also run on the 29th from 3pm–sundown with sign painting in the pavilion, a lil bit o baking, loads of tea drinking, and a riotous debate over whether subsequent Wednesday sessions ought to begin at 2pm (in order to maxmize light hours). As ever, all are welcome.
We hope to see some new, old, and somewhere-in-between faces this week!
Until then, enjoy a new photo album from last Sunday's tasty apple festival. Pictures courtesy of Jade Neville - many thanks!
A small batch of volunteers who made Apple Day happen!
Good evening, OxGrowers!
Brace yourselves for another week of green-themed activity at Hogacre. We've a host of tasks and celebrations to get to. Before looking forward, several quick words of appreciation: (A) to the 400+ Harvest Festival attendees who ate loads of soup and roast veg, serenaded audiences young and old, and assisted in a multitude of festival-y errands earlier this month - photos now available on Facebook courtesy of resident gardener-photographer, Anne Maduzia!; (B) the 45+ new OxGrowers who came out for last Sunday's Welcome Day to pick piles of parsnips, build behemoth raised beds, and make marrow mbread (some of our favorite scenes at the bottom, the rest on our homepage); (C) Wednesday's rain warriors who braved the storm to plant garlic (!) and helped plan more events for wet days in the future.
Onward to this week's events:
I. A much-delayed notice that tonight at the Hogacre Pavilion (adjacent OxGrow) from 7-10pm, OxCo-Op and Food Justice are making a delicious meal to celebrate their first week back on the town. Both have received INCREDIBLE levels of support and interest from incoming students. Pour a bit more on if you can make a spontaneous trip down for a home cooked meal!
II. Abundance's much awaited APPLE DAY strikes this Sunday (the 19th) from 12:00-5:30pm at Hogacre. OxGrow will operate in conjunction these festivities as we help slice, dice, bob, hob, and chutney a glut(ney) of apples. Bring any spare apples along and turn into your very own "[Your name] Apple Juice". Register your interest here! (There are getting to be too many FB links in this email, I know...)
3. OxGrow will be open again this Wednesday the 22nd from 3pm until sunset. We'll be joined by our friends from Asylum Welcome. Come along at any time if in need of a break from the books, for however long you'd like.
Lastly, a re-link for directions to OxGrow & Hogacre Common, should the soon-to-be-initiated among you need: http ://tinyurl . com/FindingOxGrow
Looking forward to a very active week ahead!
Through thistles and brambles (that's not very poetic, is it?),
Digging Into Term (and other horrific plays on words)
Dear Freshers, returning students, and long-standing OxGrowers:
Welcome to the new academic year! It was a pleasure to meet many of you at Freshers' Fair and the Harvest Festival over the past week. We're looking forward to introducing all 300+ new members (!) to Oxford's "best kept secret" as soon as you're ready (...still tracking down the source for that quotation...). The coming months are chock-full of activity that anyone can take part in – from the garden newbie to the sage greenfinger. To begin:
This Sunday the 12th, we're hosting a Garden Induction Day for all new OxGrowers, rain or shine (we're an intrepid bunch and we also have a (atmospherically) warm pavillion to shelter in if the weather gets rough). Come along at any time from 12 noon-4pm. The afternoon will feature:
- Tours of OxGrow and the larger Hogacre Common;
- Planting loads of seeds to grow over winter;
- Building a HUGE raised bed from recycled wood;
- Painting signs and a children's picnic table;
- Carrying compost over the railway track;
- Teas and food in the pavillion cafe (bring along baked goods or a dish to share if you have time to prepare - or we can cook from scratch in the kitchen);
- And, if the weather permits, we'll end with a bonfire in the meadow.
Here are directions to get to OxGrow (15 minutes by foot, 6.25 minutes by bike):
1. From the middle of town at Carfax Tower (at Cornmarket and High Streets), go south on the Abingdon Road and turn into White House Road where you see the Folly Bridge Inn (second right after the bridge over the river)
2. Go down the road ~200 metres to the bend where you'll see Grandpont Nursery. Take the tree-covered track straight in front of you past SOAP (the South Oxford Adventure Playground).
3. Cross the railway bridge, turn right and you’ve found us!
And here's a more detailed Google Map: http://tinyurl.com/FindingOxGrow
Call Andonis if you need a hand with directions: 07935 812 466
Don't worry if you can't make it this Sunday. There is plenty more in store (including a session on 15th Wednesday from 3pm until sundown) and you can always drop in without notice. Diarise the following OxGrow events (especially Abundance's Apple Day on Sunday 19th October (2nd Week) and Good Food Oxford's Pumpkin Rescue Festival on 9th November (5th Week)!):
That's all for now, folks. If you get eager in the meantime, have a breeze through our Facebook photos, friend us, and spread the good-growing word!
Clear your schedules - it's harvesting season!
Good morning OxGrowers!
What a whirlwind of a week it's been. We extend HUGE thanks for all of those who contributed to OxGrow's wildly successful Big Dig (55+ volunteers!, wowza); the Abundance "forage and make session" (18 of us!); and the regular work parties (with a special shout out to Lauren who helped us make 6 trips across the train tracks in order to deliver LOADS of compost for all those new raised beds). More details, pictures, gratitude to be found below.
It's a bit late notice, but adult clients from Asylum Welcome will come down to the garden today (Wednesday) beginning 3:00pm. We'll be harvesting veg together until sundown. Do join at any point if you can!
On to the big announcement! (Brace yourself. (In case you didn't read the subject line of this email...)):
Hogacre Common + OxGrow are throwing the renowned community-run Harvest Festival this SUNDAY 5th September from 11am-5pm.
RSVP on FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/838325286208617/
Register here to volunteer at some point during the event (one hour, two? Your help is critical!): http://tinyurl.com/HarvstFestVulntrRecruitment
Promotional poster (please share!):
We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in the coming days.
Until then, two additional news items to pique your interest (details in the sections below):
1. Hogacre launches adult education courses
2. OxGrow's Week in Pictures
Introducing: the Big Dig
Happening for a limited time (10am-6pm, Sun. 21st September) at OxGrow
Big spirit, big projects, big muscles (and smaller muscles) - all welcome!
Good afternoon earthly friends,
((Before we get carried away with the exciting news, a quick word to remind that we'll be having a work party tonight (Wednesday) from 4pm-sunset. This is a critical one, folks! We'll be prepping to make sure that we're all ready for the following:))
We are very very excited to invite you all down to OxGrow for the most momentuous work party of the year! The Big Dig will be taking place this Sunday the 21st from 10am until 6pm, to be followed by an open ended (...well, within reason) fire pit accompanied by a bring and share. We have many projects in store for the day, including:
– Building compost bays (and learning how they work);
– Painting 65+ signs (and familiarising you with the produce grown in the garden);
– Constructing 6-8 raised bed frames and deciding as a group how we'll position them;
– Deconstructing the dirt igloo!;
– Assembling a bike-powered water pump (mechanics welcome);
– Loads of children-friendly activities including scarecrow building; and...
– An astonishing repurposing of the plastic bottle greenhouse that you'll have to see to believe!
All materials provided. No experience (or past visits to the garden) necessary. Just bring enthusiasm, work clothes, and, if inclined, a dish/baked good/an apple collection from Granny's prized tree for the bring and share at the end of the day. AND: Bring a friend!!
Email us (email@example.com) or call Andonis (07935 812 466) if you have any questions or would like to help in any specific projects. We're very glad for people to help us lead the way.
Looking forward to growing the space with you very soon. Until then, some photos and additional information for your enjoyment.
The new OxGrow guestbook is unveiled at the Purple Party
Franky and Min tend the golden beetroot and deep red carrots in the Global Garden patch
Ida puts the finishing touches on OxGrow's newest member
"OxGrow's Monster". (Has anyone ever seen a more frightening veg?? Send your pics!)
De-haying OxGrow's meadow.
Madeleine and Andonis present OxGrow at Asylum Welcome's (very successful!) AGM
The wildflower bed at its peak.
*WARNING*: You will need 5 minutes to digest this
very dense (exciting) newsletter!
Thanks to consistent efforts from volunteers (record numbers this season!) and a healthy dose of sun, the garden is burgeoning with an abundance of veg (and freshly groomed, weed-free mounds of turf that we'll be putting to use soon). See the pristine photos below.
OxGrow co-ordinators are sat at their computers, ears to their phones setting up a range of activities for everyone. Open your diaries, greenfingered friends, and mark the following:
Wednesday 3rd September, 5pm*-sunset: Work Party (*now beginning one hour earlier to address sunlight shortages in the late summer evening)
Sunday 7th September, 1-4pm: Work Party
And these big events! (all at OxGrow/Hogacre):
Much, much more news below! Have a look. Do take a momebt to reply to this email with any thoughts, questions, or suggestions for continued expansion and dynamism! We love hearing from ya. Contents as follows:
*. OxGrow Wish List!
1. Garage cleanout (and Madeleines' (that's right, two Madeleines) first attempts at an OxGrow selfie)
2. Storytelling with Robert
3. Dispatch from community gardens in the North
4. Abundance courgette skill share at OxGrow
5. Invitation to Feeding the Gaps forum
6. Other related events
7. Appeal for Volunteers for the Big Dig (21st September)
Before that, a brief intermission for some gorgeous scenes:
OxGrow's first (semi) aerial photo. Thanks for Gabriel for holding the ladder:
The first annual "Tear down that wall! (of nettle)" tearing down:
A healthy bunch of gardeners - plenty more room at the table:
Rise and shine, OxGrowers!
A quick delivery of (fun) dates for your consideration. There's been lots of activity down at the garden in the past weeks and the calendar of events (attached below and to be updated regularly) is chock full through October. This week:
Tomorrow (Saturday), beginning 11am: Garage Cleanout
For those of you who get a buzz from clearing out the old, organising the remaining, and taking stock of possessions. There will be baked goods, sandwiches, and other snacks. Anticipated duration: 3-4 hours.
Sunday, 1-4pm: Harvest Work Party
A typically meditative day in the garden, with lots of harvesting in store, some basic lessons in composting, and collecting of comfry to make our tomatoes grow big, strong, and (beetroot)red.
Wednesday, 5pm-sunset: Work Party + Abundance Skill Share!
Jak from Abundance is conjuring some recipes to put our corgette/marrow/pumpkin/squash glut to good use. All members of the community welcome to contribute to the pizza-chutney-soup-stir fry meal! There ought to be plenty of leftovers for participants to take home.
And a quick glance at events to diarise for the near future (attached below).
Happy Bank Holiday weekend, all.
We hope to see you tending the soil soon.
-Your OxGrow Collective
Madeleine EP collects some wonky veg.
A groups of locals make their way to the garden for last Wednesday's 'kraut-making session. We'll divy it up during the Harvest Festival (see date on the picture above!); until then, it's fermenting in the pavillion.
Fermenting's in our future
Good afternoon loyal OxGrowers,
We've an exciting week ahead. OxGrow will have it's regular sessions this Sunday (1-4pm - arrive early and enjoy a cup of tea and local grub at the Hogacre Cafe's "Oxford Teapot") and Wednesday (6pm-sunset). We'll be headed full force into weeding, watering, and harvesting beds brimming with beans, carrots, peas, and cabbages. We'll also need to plant salad leaves for late summer/autumn.
At the same time that we're gardening on 13th Wednesday, our good friend Joe Jennings will be running a sauerkraut workshop using freshly picked cabbages from the Harvest Patch. You're welcome to bring along any supplementary ingredients that you'd like to experiment with/that cabbage that's been sitting on your counter for the past week, as well as jars to preserve - however, we'll provide all of the essentials.
Looking forward to seeing you soon. Don't forget to pick some blackberries on the path as you make your way to the garden!
Your trusty dirt digging friends.
New faces down at the garden to take part in the massive beetroot harvest!
Dhruva: OxGrow's proud new father.
OxGrower Andonis preserves the image of the cabbage in watercolor before it's turned to kraut.
The beetroot saga continues! Tomorrow, at Oxgrow, from 1-4PM. Come and join the madness!
Also, check out below for a JOB ABOUT PUMPKINS from Good Food Oxford!
Liberation of the GIANT beetroot
You're invited to the uprooting of OxGrow's record-breaking beetroot.
Where: The Harvest Patch, Row 5, OxGrow
When: Tomorrow, 27 July 2014
Why: If we don't do it now, it'll go to seed and won't be a pleasant eat.
*Don't forget to take photos to share on Facebook and Twitter*
Light snacks and tea provided.
N.B. Please find a message and request from a fellow OxGrower attached below. ALSO! We will have another garden party on Wednesday 30th July from 6pm-sunset. Until tomorrow, some photos of last week's sessions:
Freshly sown wild flower varieties.
Dhruva waters the revived, welcoming wild flower patch.
Min and Judy collect peas.
Dear established and emerging gardeners,
We're glad to have been joined by 18 beetroot ethusiasts on Wednesday night. Abundance Oxford and friends brewed many a tasty treat (photos below; recipes attached). Thanks for the company and skill-sharing. We look forward to seeing many of you back in the garden.
In order to keep pace with the bountiful and varied produce in the garden, we've created a map of the crops growing at OxGrow. Thanks to Damion Young and his online programme, Allotmentor, we've been able to electronicise this map for wider dissemination. Check it out ('Satellite' mode is our favourite; the Diary function is also interesting) and let us know what you think (click image):
As usual, we'll have another work party this Sunday 20th July from 1:00-4:00pm. Stick around afterwards if you'd like to hear and/or contribute ideas about upcoming events in the space. (If you look at the electronic map, you'll see we have a lot of cabbage and squash to put to use.) We'll also meet on Wednesday 23rd July from 6:00pm-sundown. We'll close the workday with a cup of tea over another hypnotic sunset. OxGrow will provide teas, biscuits, and trail mix--feel free to try out your latest tiffin recipe, berry crumble, cracker & dip combo, etc. on volunteers. I'm sure they'll be glad to sample :)
Until the weekend,
Team OxGrow wishes ya the best.
Dot and Dom coordinate the beetroot chopping table
Participants and their valued beetroot conconctions (relish, soup, stewed stalks, Indian curry fusions...). From left to right: Jak, David, Min, Dom, Dot, Nico, Merlin, Kelsi, and Owen.
Oh what a night. (<-- Classic tune to escort you onto your next email.)
T minus 20 hours until we reunite at OxGrow!
Good afternoon, OxGrowers.
We'll reconvene in the garden tomorrow beginning 1pm. We've lots of work ahead to build momentum and keep those veggies growing. We'll be joined by a group of the University's Truman Scholars who will help as we continue to:  map out the plants that we're growing in various beds (the electronic version will be ready to launch next week);  manicure the plots (weeding, mowing, and watering); and  harvest a load of veg to take home and enjoy.
We'll also be preparing for a beetroot pickling workshop that will take place this coming Wednesday 16th at 6pm, generously led by Dot, Becky, and other members of Abudance Oxford. They advise that you'll want to bring along an apron/clothes that you don't mind tie-dying red, medium/large jars to preserve your creation, and any ingerdients that you might be interested in experimenting with (we'll provide all of the essentials). NB, the session will run in parallel to our regular OxGrow activities that evening - you're welcome to participate in both.
A quick maintenance note for students: If your university email address is set to expire soon and you'd like to remain in contact with OxGrow, please re-register your permanent email account here.
Looking forward to seeing those of you who are able to make it down. Enjoy some photos from last Wednesday's beautiful session in the garden!
Your OxGrow team
Volunteers brainstorm potential projects for the coming weeks. (Photo cred: Madeleine Ballard)
Min saves the day, fixing the shredded lawn mower cord.
Judy and Owen tend a patch of leafy greens.
A beautiful sundown signifies the end of the work day.
OxGrow session this Wednesday, 6pm-sundown
Just a quick note to say that we will be in the garden this Wednesday from 6pm onward.
We'll be  maintaining the Harvest Patch - led by Judy,  fixing the lawn mower and taming the grass - led by Andonis,  putting together a (soon-to-be online accessible) diagram of the garden, charting what's growing where,  and planning a few events in the coming weeks (e.g., beet pickling workshop, composting workshop, a gazebo raising, and more).
We also plan to harvest some fruit and veg to send home with volunteers, incuding: Peas, onions, strawberries, kolrabi, beetroot, mint, thyme and other herbs, and mixed greens. Help us put it all to good use!
Looking forward to seeing some of you down there. As usual - please do bring a friend and let us know if you have any ideas for expanding OxGrow's engagement with the wider Oxford community. I'll leave you with a couple of pictures from last Sunday's session (attached below).
All the best,
Franky, Jack, Claudia, and Becky harvesting greens, 6 July.
Madeleine prepares the soil to plant squash, 6 July.
Happy end of the week to you all!
Great thanks for all of those that came down to the garden this Wednesday. We're making forward progress to a healthy and bountiful garden (picture below).
As ever, we will have another session this Sunday but at earlier hours! Dhruva, Judy, Andonis and others will be in the garden beginning 10am in order that we can head to the Cowley Road Carnival in the early afternoon. So if you're up for it, come get your hands dirty in the morning and twist-and-shout in the afternoon to the tune of live performances throughout East Oxford.
As OxGrow is resource strapped (financially, anyways), we're introducing a "Wish List" to newsletters for new/used material items and services that would benefit our collective work. Should you be able to help out–as either a gift or a loan– we'd be greatly appreciative. Reply to this email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any leads.
1. Rolls of plastic (compostable!?) produce bags to pack up veg for volunteers at the end of the day
2. A petrol grass strimmer
3. A sythe or some other type of blade to cut back thistles
4. A long (20+ metre) hose
5. A medium-large blackboard or whiteboard
6. Service: An OxGrow'er has offered to donate his used, dissembled poly tunnel. It's all ours if we're able to pick it up from Abingdon. Is anyone able to lend their vehicle for the day and drive out with us to pick up?
That'll do it for now. We hope to see many of you (whether you've gardened before or not) on Sunday at 10am. Bring a friend and a mug for a cup of tea!
All the best,
N.B. We'll also be active next Wednesday 9 July from 6pm-sundown, if you're able xx
Mixed greens ready to be harvested. 2 July 2014
We'll be having an Oxgrow meeting down in the garden on Wednesday at 6PM. All are welcome! Bring ideas, enthusiasm and feedback on how the garden has been working this year. And, if you can't make it, email any thoughts/ suggestions/ comments to email@example.com.
See ya there,
Wowza. What a week Oxgrow has had! Check out the press coverage of the garden here and here. Awesome writing from Doireann!
The crops are growing, and the garden is thriving. Come along to a work party to share in the bounty (ohmydayzz we have so much salad).
We need to meet! And soon! Please fill in your timing preferences on the poll.
Other than that, check out the notices below, and then come on down to Oxgrow for super big fun adventure.
Have a fun and fruity week
Bonjour. Hola. Guten Morgen. Rimaykullayki (that's hello in Quechua in case you were unsure).
SO MANY GOOD THINGS TODAY
1. It's Saturday. Yes. Really. True say.
2. All things being true in premise 1, this means that Oxgrow is TOMORROW. Wowza.
3. That's enough good things for now. We don't want to over do it.
It's summer, it's June, there's sunshine, the garden is thriving like a beautiful rainforest at the height of the rainforest season (which may indeed be all year round, I have little knowledge of rainforests). Get yo fine self down to Oxgrow tomorrow for FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE of Oxford's only (unofficial) rainforest.
In other news, it's low carbon Oxford week. Hooo-rahh. Basically, this is a big party, with big fun, big activities, and low carbon. This is all good, we all love party (some of us are feeling like we love party a little too much right now), we all dislike high carbon. Low carbon week- how could it not be AMAAAZING. It's great. More details of the big fun, low-carbon-high-party week below.
ALSO, RIGHT NOW (well, not right now, in a short number of hours) GOOD FOOD OXFORD is a-launching. And to celebrate the rocket of good food being blasted ceremonially into the etha of sustainable and local food, there is a LAUNCH EVENT. In Bonn Sq, from 10AM. It gonna be wild (not least because I'll be there. JOKE)
Back to Oxgrow. Tomorrow at Oxgrow, to be more precise. WEAR LONG TROUSERS. I am being serious (I know, waat?). Cos there are some horrible bitey insects down at our rainforest, and also nettles flank the path to our water source. Oh, woe is us. But actually, it's not real hardship or anything, so pull it together troops.
All that remains is to highlight the NEW DEVELOPMENTS in the correlation/ causation debate.
The take-away point? Don't use bedsheets.
That's all from me, for now. Other than to say, it's good to be back. All yo' inboxes gonna be bright and sparky from here on out.
Meet you in the rainforest by the big tree.
P.S. Lots of notices, I know. But also, a reward at the end! Trust me, it's good.
P.P.S. An unintended consequence of exam procrastination has been the revival of the Oxgrow twitter account. Follow for garden updates @Oxgrow
National Dish of Columbia: bandeja paisa
Andy W (Oxgrow guru, world traveller and fan of vegetables) tells us that whilst he and Brittany are (almost) TV stars in Colombia, vegetables are difficult to find. Andy's now growing his own on his roof-top terrance in downtown Bogota, but has recently been down at Oxgrow, getting his fix of salad leaves and cabbage planting!
that's already 3 items of good news for tomorrow, so we hope to see lots of you down at Oxgrow for our regular work party , 1-4pm as usual.
I've been away in Switzerland for 3 weeks, where allotments look like this :
......they might have mountains, but they don't have an onsite cafe! SO i'm looking forward to seeing what's been happening at Oxgrow whilst I've been away
see below for more food and environmental events in the Oxford area over the next week...
Oh my, what a week it has been! Garlic has sprouted, three (yes, that's right, three) different types of beetroot have been planted and reports just in that one of our number spent twelve consecutive hours wearing a bicycle helmet. Doesn't get wilder than that, folks!
And now, a treat for you all- the story of a (not entirely) real life Oxgrower: The Legend of Horace
Horace was just an Average Guy. Then Horace came to Oxgrow. After coming to Oxgrow, Horace became Awesome. (Caveat: the two may not be related. Correlation, after all, does not equal causation. But I wouldn't risk it if I were you...)
And finally, tomorrow is 'World Naked Gardening Day'. Oxgrow with a twist, anyone?
See ya on Sunday (hopefully fully clothed...)
P.S. Remember, Wednesday evening sessions are BACK ON. 5:30PM