Free Gardening Demonstrations Mar - Apr 2014

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bsg allotment open day-8

We will be holding 4 talks/demonstrations this spring on gardening matters. The purpose is to give confidence to newcomers to the craft and for the seasoned gardeners to share some of their expertise and knowledge.


Together we can consider some of the mysteries and myths of the subject. So have your questions ready as someone will be able to answer them, or at least throw a little light on any matters.




The events will take place on the Sustainability Group plot which is at the top of the Tricks Allotments site.

The gateway to this part of the site is running off the pathway that cuts between Clovelly Road and Capern Road.




All events start at 10am on a Saturday morning.


March 1st:    Composting and soil conditioners
March 29th: Fertilisers, seed bed preparation, sowing and choice of varieties
April 26th:    Permaculture/companion planting and other alternatives
May 31st:     Weeding, watering, liquid feeding and pest control 


With thanks to Bideford Town Council and staff for free use of the allotment and preparation of publicity.



Swap Shop and WOW Recreate

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Swap Shop & WOW Recreate


mrs recycle web


Our very well attended January Quarterly meeting was a bit different from our usual talk, discussion and refreshments. Mrs Recycle brought a black bin-bag of rubbish and went through it explaining what could be recycled where in a lively and interactive way. The kerbside green box service will take milk bottles, glass jars, all envelopes (including window envelopes), paper, newspapers, clothes, shoes in pairs, small electrical items etc. The recycling centre will take all other recyclable plastics, batteries, low energy light bulbs, larger electrical items etc. The green bin will take garden waste and all food waste, although uncooked vegetable waste can be composted. Furniture and other household items can be passed on to the Store Project, SMR Phoenix or the RSPA charity shop in Mill Street.

We had a Swap Shop where people brought unwanted good quality household items which could then be taken home and loved by someone else. This worked very well, people were wonderfully generous with the items they had brought and many went home very pleased with the things they had picked up.

Mrs Recycle then ran a WOW (What Others Waste) Recreate session, helping people to use offcuts of sticky backed plastic to personalise green bins and boxes, make bird feeders from tetrapaks and from willow, and an ingenious idea for using netting from citrus fruit or onion packaging to put nesting materials out for birds to take (including hair from Mrs R’s horse’s tail!)

A big thank you to Mrs Recycle - a wonderful time was had by all.


Sharing Visions of a More Generous World

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Sharing Visions of a More Generous World

Pete Yeo gave an inspiring talk at our AGM in October. I have tried to catch the essence of it here. 

We hear a lot about what’s wrong with the world but there are an abundance of things happening to make the world a better place. Nipun Mehta, a strong advocate of the Gift Economy, is involved with Service Space an entirely volunteer run organisation described as ‘an incubator of projects that works at the intersection of volunteerism, technology and gift-economy’. It aims to inspire volunteerism and allow small acts of generosity to blossom. Metha believes that  four ‘Mehta Shifts’ could hold the key to a more generous future: from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, isolation to community and scarcity to abundance.

A Gift Economy is a different way of looking at economics, where goods and services are given freely. This can take the form of ‘paying it forward’ where a person might choose when paying for a coffee to pay for one for the stranger behind him in the queue, crowd funding where a ‘pitch’ is made for a project at an event and those in the audience each decide whether or not to give a small amount of money to support the project. Trust and reputation become the currency rather than hard cash. A belief in scarcity leaves us alone but by trusting, co-operating and working together we can find abundance. 

A spirit of generosity and co-operation is evolving here and now in Bideford. There are wonderful examples of amongst the traders in Butchers Row and the Pannier Market, Bideford Bay Creatives exist to support each other creatively, The Store Project collects unwanted furniture from the community to give to those who need it, to name but a few.

Generosity has many forms. It can be a meal cooked for a friend, shopping for a neighbour, a kind word, a hug or a smile. It can be supporting your local shops or providing time or space for people to share, or lending a listening ear. A word of warning, though, performing random acts of kindness can be addictive!  


Seeing Green

Written by Jane Williams on .


mukti mitchell opens door for seeing greenOn the weekend of May 18th and 19th 2013 eleven houses in Bideford and the surrounding area opened their doors so that visitors could see, and ask questions about, the energy efficient measures they had taken.

philip jones with his state of the art log burning stove

There was a wide range of options available: a wind turbine, a rainwater-fed toilet, insulation, LED lights (and more). Hosts and visitors alike enjoyed the event and the opportunity to learn from each other.


Looking to the Future 

Have you improved your home to become more environmentally friendly?  Are you prepared to share your knowledge and experience? Do you want to take part in next years Seeing Green?
If so you could become part of our exciting Seeing Green project by opening your doors and showing the benefits and drawbacks of your home improvements.  Bideford Sustainability Group is inviting you to show how you've made the jump towards becoming more sustainable.  We are particularly looking for people who have installed heat pumps, solar thermal, internal or external wall insulation, heat recovery, floor insulation, composting toilets, rainwater or grey water harvesting or any other improvement that reduces the need for electricity from the grid. 

2012AGM Talk

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Raw Energy

Lisa Sture gave an inspiring talk on raw foods and healthy eating at BSG’s AGM in November.

In 2007 Lisa had become very unwell experiencing a lot of pain, having no energy and gaining weight. She took sick-leave from work for a while and came across a story of a lady who had undertaken a ‘juice feast’, just fruit and vegetable juices for 92 days, which had a very positive effect on her health. Lisa’s body felt as if it was crying out to do this but she had just agreed to return to work so she decided to start eating a 100% vegan raw food diet instead.

After two weeks she was leaping out of bed in the morning, no pain or stiffness, so full of energy that she had to go outside and run in the fields to use some of it up! Everything had changed quickly, dramatically and powerfully despite many of Lisa’s friends convinced that a raw food diet would kill her. She has enjoyed rude health and a 100% raw diet ever since.

Lisa took us through 9 different types of diet from junk food, through vegan and raw live plant based diets to juice feasting and juice fasting diets. She told us of the benefits of eating kale and other cruciferous (cabbage family) vegetables and the issues with eating animal based foods which ‘fur up’ the arteries. She told us the five principles to consider for choosing food for a healthy diet:

  1. 1.Whole – whole foods are high in beneficial fibre
  2. 2.Fresh – eat fruit and vegetables as fresh as you can. Straight from the plant is best!
  3. 3.Ripe – fruit and vegetables are at their most nutritious when just ripe.
  4. 4.Raw – cooking denatures the vitamins, destroys enzymes and causes the cell walls in the plant to collapse.
  5. 5.Organic – always choose organic if possible.

She told us of the health giving properties of ‘green juice’ (the juice of leafy green vegetables) which has a very similar chemical composition to human blood and is very easily taken in by the body. Kale has more nutrition per calorie than any other plant and cruciferous vegetables are powerful in preventing and fighting cancer. Kale can be eaten raw if you massage it with a little oil or salt to soften it first.

Raw food need not be all salads! Lisa passed round some raw food recipes including some delicious looking sweet treats and passed round some delicious tomato ‘bread sticks’ made with raw ingredients, no wheat, and put in a dehydrator. A dehydrator is a tool that uses low temperatures and a fan to dry food. It essentially removes the water from food, but it keeps the enzymes of your raw food intact.

Lisa knows that not everybody is prepared to make a sudden switch to a completely raw food diet but if we could all incorporate a bit more raw food in our diets we would feel the benefits.

I’m off for a delicious salad with lots of fresh greens and some sprouted lentil seeds, fresh from a corner of my kitchen.

Jane Williams

December 2012



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Jacqui Poole has written to all the local supermarkets encouraging them to eliminate giving out free carrier bags.  Jacqui has the support of BSG, Bideford Quakers and the North Devon Green Party; in her own words she writes about what motivated her to action:-




My letter to our four main supermarkets in Bideford was stimulated, I suppose, by exasperation! I found out some years ago about the existence in the Pacific Ocean of an area larger than France covered in plastic.

Since then, I've learnt about the devastating effects of plastic on marine life, the fact that plastic doesn't disintegrate but breaks down into small particles which are then ingested by sea creatures and I've understood that there's a fear that these toxic chemicals are entering the food chain. The coastline in the UK is littered with the stuff - and, in many places it's far, far worse. We seem gradually, or not so gradually, to be intent on destroying not just the habitat of marine life but our own.

Our government knows these facts and, presumably, far more information is at its fingertips. According to an article in The Guardian this January, they promised in 2012 to insist on a charge for plastic bags. They haven't done so.

So, in this state of heightened awareness, I've stood in queues in all our supermarkets over the past few months and watched customers in front of me accept the offer of plastic bags without 'turning a hair' - how many more would you like? Five? Fine.

- And I think: We're supposedly the most intelligent species on the planet - and yet we seem intent on our own extinction (plastic bags, of course, being only one symptom of this lemming-like behaviour).

Far from 'blaming' the people who are accepting the proffered items, I feel immensely saddened - We lack leadership! At best we're getting mixed messages: 'plastic is very bad for the environment' in one breath, and 'here you are; how many of these noxious items would you like? We're giving them out free!'

I think the general public can be excused for being confused, for thinking: 'surely, if the government believed the information that filters through to us one way and another about the disastrous effects of plastic, then they wouldn't allow it to be given out freely. Indeed, they wouldn't allow people to make the things. They'd put a stop to it! So, presumably, it can't be as bad as all that. There must be disagreement amongst the experts.'

Well, there isn't disagreement among the experts - far from it. SO, since no leadership on this issue is coming from the top, then we, the citizens, have to take the matter into our own hands and, at least, try to do something about it. HENCE THE LETTER.


The Letter Jacqui Wrote


                                               Wednesday, 6th February, 2013



Dear Ms Hubbard,


I am writing to you with two hats on: one of them is as a member of the Bideford Sustainability Group; the other is as a member of Bideford Quakers.


My purpose in writing, as a representative from these two groups, is this: we would very much like to make Bideford a plastic-carrier-bag-free-zone and we have a proposition for you:

If we took it upon ourselves to get the agreement of the managers of all the supermarkets in the Bideford area to set a date when free plastic carrier bags would no longer be available to your customers, is this something you would be prepared to consider?


You are, of course, aware of all the problems associated with the growing pollution of the environment and the changing climate. We know that getting rid of free plastic carrier bags is in one sense a 'drop in the ocean'. However, in another, very real sense, it would be a fantastic beginning to a campaign for our local community; you would be taking the lead in what could become a 'sea change' for us all. As you know, other communities have already gone down this road and succeeded, Modbury in Devon being one.

I'm sure I don't need to remind you that, as of now, there is a growing area in the Pacific Ocean, about the size of Texas, covered with plastic - and we continue to contribute to it! Your help and support would be so much appreciated - indeed, we clearly can't do it without you.


Could I make an appointment to come and see you? I would come with a draft 'agreement', making it clear that it would only be valid if all supermarkets in the area had signed up to it.


I very much look forward to hearing from you.


Yours very sincerely,


Jacqui Poole (Mrs)


cc. The North Devon Journal


Enc. Article from The Guardian, 15.1.2013




We, the undersigned, hereby agree that we will ensure that carrier bags are no longer provided to our customers from Monday, 6th May, 2013.


This agreement is only valid if the managers of all the following supermarkets in the Bideford Area are signatories to it:

Asda, Co-op, Morrisons, Tesco


BSG Welcomes Mukti Mitchell to speak...

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‘MAKING ECO-LIVING FUN’ – Talk by Mukti Mitchell on 13th February 2013

Mukti Mitchell gave an inspiring account of how low-carbon living can enhance one’s quality of life at Bideford Sustainability Group’s last meeting. He spoke of his own experiences. A train journey to Finland, a cycle ride round Britain and hitchhiking in South America fed a taste for eco-travelling. Taking a passion for sailing to heart, Mukti went on to design his own microyacht - winning an innovative boat of the year award in the process – and sailed round Britain to promote a more planet-friendly lifestyle.

He passed on invaluable tips, pinpointing loft insulation up to 12” thick as a key way to reduce heating bills and one’s carbon footprint. For period properties - and Bideford boasts many - he has designed unobtrusive secondary glazing which can reduce heat loss by up to 70% compared with single glazing. Travelling by bus meant he read more books and, after cycling to work, he arrived so alert that he worked more efficiently and earned more!

Mukti recommended we eat locally grown food, preferably organic, and reduce consumption of imported food with a high water content, such as fruit. ‘You don’t have to lead a spartan life though to be eco-friendly,’ he said. ‘Just regard the more exotic fruits as treats.’ And foreign holidays? ‘How about going abroad less often but for longer?’ he suggested. ‘You’ll get so much more out of the holiday too.’

His key shopping tip was to go for products which might cost more but last longer, like a power drill he bought 22 years ago and is still as good as new. ‘You get a feelgood factor,’ he said, ‘every time you pick up an old friend.’ His message was that if we can only adopt a more caring attitude to our oldest friend – the planet – it will repay us. And our lifestyles will be enriched into the bargain.