Asparagus – skills session Sat 22 April

Saturday April 22nd, 1.30pm – 3.00pm
foodsmiles
You will learn about planting and looking after asparagus plants and plant an asparagus seed to take away

Organised by FOODSMILES ST ALBANS Hammonds End Farm, Harpenden, Herts AL5
At FoodSmiles members grow organic veg together, sharing skills and learning about growing, we share the harvest once a week

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Open Food Gardens springs into action!

Kick away the winter blues and get inspiration for growing your own at our first Open Food Garden of the year on Saturday 29th April 3-pm. Bring a friend, or a neighbour and explore how other food gardeners do it!

2017 pic Open Food Gardens at April 7th

Incredible Edible St Albans Wed 5 April 10.30am Courtyard Cafe

Incredible Edible in St Albans – interested?

FoodSmiles St Albans are starting Incredible Edible in St Albans.
Find out more at this talk on Wednesday.
Wed 5th April, 10.30am
Courtyard Cafe, Hatfield Rd, St Albans
All welcome – entry £5 including coffee

Come and hear FoodSmiles member Sahira Ward talk about Incredible Edible Dunstable and how it came about, and how you can get involved in Incredible Edible St Albans – food and flowers to share, planted by the community for the community, enhancing the town centre and our lives.
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Info about the meeting is also on facebook click here to see

Incredible Edible is an inspiring scheme, opening up food growing (and eating free) for all the community.
For more information about how Incredible Edible got started in Todmorden, Yorkshire, click here

Book your Green bin composting visit

plasticpiginwasteEver wondered what happens to your green waste and food waste?

The council are putting on a second free tour of the local composting facility in South Mimms, together with a look at the new Anaerobic Digester taking all our food waste –  on March 7th 10.30 – 12.30pm.

To book your place see: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/tour-of-the-agrivert-composting-site-and-new-anaerobic-digestion-facility-tickets-30026708694?aff=es2

The first trip during Sustainable StAlbans Week was fully booked, and was a surprisingly enjoyable experience: below Liz Sefton gives us a creative look into the tour:

Pedant Power for the Green Bin!

Agrivert sign‘Two of my favourite things came together in the Sustainable St Albans’ tour of the Agrivert Composting facility at South Mimms:  the magic of composting and an enduring love of heavy plant and machinery.

 

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Sgt-Major turned Eco-Warrior

I have always wondered about those neat, steaming, but oddly unsmelly,  heaps of brown stuff at the side of the M25.   Then Stuart, the Sgt Major turned Eco-Warrior,  who runs the Agrivert Composting facility, entered my life and a wonderful welly-wearing morning enjoying an industrial tour became a highlight of my year.

So, you ask, what happens at South Mimms
?

Six men, with their big yellow scoopers and a straddle turner, plus the all-important grading machine, make tonnes of lovely compost out of the grass, leaves, and prunings in our green bins.   In summer, they take in over 300 tonnes of green waste from 5 District Councils, including St Albans, and turn it into compost of a standard suitable for agricultural purposes – supplying nutrient and structure to local farmers’ fields.   In winter it is reduced to 150 tonnes a day.

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Composting Tunnel

The Agrivert team knows exactly which streets put what in their green wheelie bins –  because every lorry-load of green waste is checked in separately. Then the waste is tipped out into a huge bay, mixed, then piled neatly into one of the 15 large, long, insulated composting tunnels which meet optimum width and height requirements for good composting.   Air is pulsed through each long heap to speed composting and the temperature is monitored to ensure that bugs and weed seeds are killed and to ascertain when the composting bacteria have slowed in their work.   This process is repeated with remixed materials in a second set of tunnels where the composting bacteria become re-enlivened and the end-product further refined.

mistintunnel.jpgIt is very cosy in the composting tunnels, and not at all smelly.   However, after the warm-up comes the cool down!

 

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The Straddle Turner

The almost finished compost is stacked in long piles outside where a wonderful machine called a ‘straddle-turner’ – does what is says as the driver steers it back and forth along the piles.   Large sticks and roots, and far too many alien items, remain in the compost at this stage.

Finally, the sifter and grader sorts the compost.  It removes the foreign bodies (which should not have been in the green bins to start with),  and the large odd bits of uncomposted woody material, and piles up lovely sweet-smelling, brown stuff which is all ready for the farmers’ fields.

plasticThe ‘should never have been included’ old shirts, shoes, toys, DIY rubbish, etc removed from the compost, is sent for landfill,  and the ‘oversize’ woody material, which has been sifted out, is sent back to the beginning of the process: here it is useful in providing necessary aeration to compacted green waste, such as grass clippings, helping to speed the next batch of composting.   They don’t waste much at Agrivert!  

 

 

With their ‘green waste in and great compost out’ process the Agrivert site at South Mimms is a local asset we should all be proud of.

And now, understanding the industrial composting process better, I, am proud to be a total pedant about what goes into my green waste wheelie bin:  it’s green garden waste and woody prunings only for me!  ‘

Liz Sefton Feb 2017

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What’s happening in 2017?

We would love to see you at our Transition St Albans Open Meeting tonight, Tuesday Jan 31st 7:30pm The Barn at The Horn, St Albans, AL1 3TE

The agenda includes an update and news about all the projects planned for 2017, plus opportunities for getting involved. Most of all, there will be time for some networking and to chat informally to both regular members and those new to TSA – and refreshments – either from the bar, or tea and coffee.

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News and updates on all things related to practical, local action on climate, community and environmental sustainability


Want to keep the heat in your house?

Why not borrow our Thermal Imaging Camera. If you live in St Albans District including Harpenden you can borrow the camera free!

You need to book in for one of our free short training sessions, then you can use the camera to identify hidden heat escaping  from your property.

To book a session look on our updated web page here and email us.

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Second St Albans Sustainability Week proves district is keen to keep it green

Herts Ad 02 December 2016

Over 100 events took place during Sustainable St Albans Week

Over 100 events took place during Sustainable St Albans Week

Local residents were not the only beneficiaries of Sustainable St Albans Week, as popular green spaces also received some extra attention.

More than 100 events were organised in connection with the themed week which ran from November 19-26, with over 1,800 people taking part in activities relating to environmental sustainability.

St Albans Verulamium Rotary Club partnered up with Earthworks and residents to plant 5,000 crocuses in Verulamium Park – also the scene of a community litter pick.

Green was the theme, too, over in Sandridge, where at Heartwood Forest representatives of the Woodland Trust planted trees alongside residents in the UK’s newest forest.

The St Albans Sub-Aqua Club put on a film for divers about sharks, and walkers were invited to a guided stroll along the Alban Way, run by the Countryside Management Service.

Churches also showed their support, with St Paul’s Church in Blandford Road, St Albans, hosting 104 people during a vegetarian supper and talk by Steve Hughes, from the environmental Christian charity, A Rocha UK.

St Luke’s Church in Cell Barnes Lane, meanwhile, organised a sustainable café at its Christmas fair, which was enjoyed by 70 visitors. There were 10 events put on by local faith groups, including a home produce sale organised by St Albans Quakers.

Local businesses also took part, with special offers available throughout the week, allowing residents to save money on everything from beer and coffee, to pharmacy items, and even fish and chips at Godfrey’s in Harpenden.

The St Albans branch of the RSPB catered for youngsters by encouraging them to make garden bird feeders, for feathered visitors.

Schools and youth groups, including Cubs and Guides, ran activities engaging children on environmental issues, including the production of food.

St Albans district council’s trip to the Agrivert composting site was fully booked, and was so successful there are plans to repeat the tour.

One participant, Liz Sefton, reflected afterwards: “It was so sad to see the amount of plastic bags and all sorts of other foreign bodies that contaminate the compost. We saw masses of plastic plus all sorts of other non-compostable items such as DIY stuff, shoes and even old shirts.”

Local green thumbs attended a wildlife garden event put on by the RSPB, and a poetry recital about butterflies, presented by Dr Richard Harrington who headed the Rothamsted insect survey, was organised by charity group, Save Butterfly World.

Catherine Ross, chairwoman of Sustainable St Albans Week, said she was pleased it was “so successful, and I want to thank all organisers of the events for doing such a great job”.