Engaging Worthing in responding positively and creatively to energy descent
Grow some of your own food, learn new skills and be part of a more self-reliant
community. That was the message of the spring fair at Oak Grove College, Worthing, on Saturday 11th February 2012. Organised for the third year running by volunteers from Transition Town Worthing’s Local Food group, this year’s Seed Swap, Sow and Grow event was even bigger and better than previously. It was a hit with around 200 visitors, including families and people of all ages. They enjoyed finding fun and practical ways to grow their own fruit and veggies, as well as browsing community stalls as varied as bread-making, wildlife gardening, preserving produce, composting, tool maintenance, environmental art, bee-keeping, Community Supported Agriculture and Fairtrade.
There were demonstrations throughout the afternoon by the Millennium Seed Bank (Kew Gardens) on how to save your own seeds, as well as inspiring advice from Chichester College’s horticultural expert on how to grow interesting veggies like sweet potatoes, cucumbers and courgettes even in the smallest of spaces by growing vertically.
The seed-swapping stall was particularly busy. Lisa Leach, one of the event organisers, says:
”It was very encouraging to see this year many more people coming with their own saved seed. And it was great to hear some success stories of things grown from last year’s seeds. An increase in local people growing some of their own food can only be a good thing!”
But the fair also brought together about 30 community groups and organisations that promote sustainable living. One visitor was overheard saying:
"Go in the hall, there are a wonderful lot of stalls in there. It’s great to see so much emphasis on recycling waste."
A stall-holder, who intends to come back next year, commented:
“It was a well planned event showing what local people can do to make us a more self-sufficient community.”
The Local Food Group unveiled its Food Web Mapping report, ‘Downland, Townland, Coastland’, which looks at farmers and growers in the surrounding area and asks questions about food production for Worthing’s needs in a low-carbon future. One of the outcomes of the mapping was to initiate the successful Garden Share scheme in partnership with Adur & Worthing Councils. A couple of Garden Sharers came to the Seed Swap to help with the stall and one of them said:
“As a first time volunteer at this event I got a lot out of meeting other like-minded people in my local community.”
Other Transition Town Worthing members used the event to trial business or social enterprise ideas. Michelle Hughes said:
“It was my first time as a stall holder of any kind, it helped me realise what things I need to tweak in order to promote the bread making workshops I am going to offer locally in Worthing.”
Oak Grove College students helped chef, Guy French, to provide tasty rabbit, lamb and veggie stews during the afternoon, made from locally sourced ingredients and herbs they grew on site.
The event will happen again this year on February 9th 2013, 1pm-5pm again at Oak Grove College. There will be a talk by River of Flowers at 2pm about planting for pollinators in towns and cities plus talks throughout the afternoon about plants for pollinators by Dr Steve Millam from Chichester College and seed saving tips.
Also, story reading by the community librarian and outdoor cooking.
Short video of the event elsewhere on TTW website.