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We had our own small and beautiful Green Festival at Bill Quay Farm yesterday, with rain, but no mud! Excellent talks on beekeeping, forest gardening and permaculture, plus wide ranging political discussion following a talk on green economics and Latin American eco-socialist activism, especially indigenous peoples’, by Derek Wall. Lots of Greens from Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland (plus some from Newcastle and North Tyneside) came, plus lots of local families enjoying the wonderful music, stalls and food – Pam and the cafe workers surpassed themselves, with Gateshead Floddies (a bit like rosti) and fabulous cakes and puddings – Newcastle pudding (lemon bread & butter), Northern tart – coconut, apricot etc… all delicious.

Our wildlife gardening activities were very popular – ladybird sanctuaries and bumblebee hotels – that reminds me Phil Wilson posted about flowers to grow to help bumblebees. We were also planting seeds – herbs, sunflowers and pumpkins – in fibre pots which children and grown ups could take home with them. We talked to everyone about the possibility of setting up a Woodcraft Folk group round here – as the nearest ones are in Newcastle or Ryton. We will meet again in the cafe at Bill Quay farm on Saturday 9th July at 1.30 to talk about getting a group going.

Really great to network with all the people who came, the people working at the farm and the people who brought their fabulous stalls – the free produce from the Gateshead Community Agriculture project, gorgeous homemade cakes and jams from Coach House Kitchen, textiles from the Bill Quay textile workshop, recycled jewellery from Joanne Dale, Riverford Organic Veg, the Vegetarian Society and beer-making by my other half, including offering free samples….

Just going to finish off a lovely weekend, after gardening in the sunshine today, by listening to last night’s radio 4 programme about Fritz Schumacher, who wrote the landmark book Small is Beautiful – a life changer for me when I read it as a student. Not sure about the focus of Jonathon Porritt’s programme though – the legacy of this radical book for Cameron’s Big Society… I trust that Porritt, who has criticised the claims of this government to be the greenest ever, will point out the contradiction between the heart of Schumacher’s vision of economics as if people and ecology matter, and the rampant big business capitalism continuing to be pursued by this government at any cost.


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