Monthly Archives: February 2007

how much of my fruit and veg is local?

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On the left is produce from abroad and on the right it is mainly local apart from the apples.

I always try and make sure that I get as much of my shopping from local shops as possible, partly to support local businesses and not big supermarkets. A local shop is part of the community as well as being able to source local produce. However I wanted to see what percentage of my grocery shop came from a local source.

This is a ordinary grocer’s not a farm or organic shop. I could walk alot further to the edge of town to an organic farm shop but I choose not to as I find it difficult to get to and more catered to the middle class market rather than the ethical shopper. I admit that the price puts me off.

We try and grow as much as possible for ourself but we still do not have the room to be fully self-sufficient in fruit and veg, so have to resort to the grocers at this time of year. I try and buy as much local produce as possible as it’s supporting my locality and also local, normally means that it is in season too.

I would say that on average my grocery shopping is 50/50 local to food from abroad.
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All this is grown locally apart from the apples which come from another part of England. The eggs are free range and also come from a local farm.
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This pile is the one that I always struggle with. Do I need bananas and grapes? The answer is no but we love them so what can you do at this time of year, when there is little by the way of seasonal fruit? The other veg are also not in season but with a vegetarian in the house I like to have a wide range of foods on offer. I also love mushrooms and these were on offer, the whole bag for 50p as they were on their way out, so I saved those from the bin.

This whole shop came to just over £11 this will last us a week, together with what is left over from last week. I decided not to buy meat this week as we have alot of fish in the freezer and have been eating alot of meat recently and I made a promise to our daughter that we would make more vegetarian meals. We are well stocked with other food so that will be about it for this week, not bad for a family of 5. On average we spend between £20 to £50 on food a week.

No it’s not all local and it’s not all organic but I like my local shop and I still try to make sure most of my other food is organic and only a small percentage comes from the supermarket. It’s a step in the right direction.

Rand park farm

Yes they should have been at school but for me they will have learned more today than in the last month spent in the class room.
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learning to milk a cow, in the old days it was all done this way, except they used a cow!

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here is a real cow being milked

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feeding very hungry lambs
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cozy piglets
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just cute
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escaped rabbit
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this lamb had just been born today
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I think this is far enough

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freestanding not fitted

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Take back control don’t live your life through a catalogue. Why support mass production and designer culture when you can be an individual and help reduce waste by reusing old furniture. There are so many positives when you do this, you often get old furniture cheap but not as with modern culture at the expence of quality. Most of the furniture we have is pre 1960’s and we have never paid over £100 for any piece we have. The white kitchen cabinet in the photo was £75, the green one was free and the one in the middle was £20. Most of them needed a little work but mainly just a paint job and a good clean.

They give us loads of space, a sense of individuality and best of all a cheap kitchen. Many people spend thousands on a fitted designer kitchen as seen on TV or in a magazine. They buy into a lie that this will give them credability and style, where as in actual fact it’s just boring and will be out of date in six months.

So much good quality furnature gets smashed up and sent to land fill each year, furniture that can so easily be reused again and again. It’s just a sign of our throw away and fickle culture that something over ten years old is dated where as something over one hundred years is a sort after antique.

I do admit that part of it for us is we like having an eclectic house, I don’t think that we have a new piece of furnature in the house but there is no reason why people with no real interest can’t pick something up from freecycle or a secondhand shop.

Free yourself keep kitchens freestanding.

Now before any of my friends say “hang about, you have fitted sink units” yes thats true but only because they are the ones that were there when we moved here. We simply made new fronts and replaced the handels. We recently got a new workopt as we put the old sink and worktop in the utility room. We tried to waste as little as possible.

making a mallet or maul

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I thought that today I would make something with all the free wood that I have collected from Normanby park in the past few weeks. However I still have not been able to source the correct string/rope for the pole lathe so turning was out of the question still. Not wanting to just practice carving styles I decided to make something practical, but what? I decided after a cup of tea that what I needed is a way to split/cleave wood safely. I was also a bit bored and wanted to get on with something straight away.

Firstly choose a log it wants to be at least 2′ long as it gives you chance to coose the right part to cut. It also helps if it is as straight as possible. I chose a very heavy log as I wanted the weight for splitting rather than for use like a mallet but the principal is the same. I have made a few of these over the years partly for fun and partly a they get lost and broken but as they are free to make who cares?

Cut the end off your log so that you have a flat end it looks better but also allows you to stand it on it’s end when not in use this will stop it rolling away! Next cut into the log a few inches all the way round, this gives you the thickness of the handel so guage this first, it does not need to be to exact.

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When you have done this think about the size of your handel I like to keep mine long so that I can have a bit of counter weight to the heavy maul. Keep the handel part as long as you can as you will always be able to cut it shorter at the end.

Next is the part where you have to be careful, cleaving the the log to shape the handel. When holding it try and keep your thumb off the top! If you had a froe you could use this but I don’t.

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When it’s at this stage, you don’t need to take such heavy blows, it’s more shaping now into a comfortable handel. I try and keep the end thicker to add a little weight. This will allow me to split wood safely as I don’t need to hold a log and bring down the axe, I can now rest the axe on the wood and bring down the maul to cleave the wood.

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Thats it easy, you can clean it up if you wish but I don’t just remove and sharp edges. They are great to take camping for tent pegs and also if you leave it behind you just make another.

Brigg farmers’ market

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Yesterday was Brigg farmers’ market, it’s been running for about 7 years now and yesterday was embarrassingly, the first time I have made it, even eco-warriors get lazy sometimes. This time I had no excuse as I was getting a lift from a friend. We got there about 12.30 and already it seemed as if some stalls had sold out, a much more popular event than I had allowed for.

All the produce was local and appart from a few naff sweet stalls most of the produce looked fresh and was worth taking a closer look. My favouite part is that most of the stalls have a try before you buy pollicy, which I like.

There were quite a few stallholders I recognised,

‘Bridge farm organic foods’ an organic farm near Gainsborough which I offered to volunteer at and was asked about a job there, but sadly it would mean two bus jorneys and a two mile walk to get there!

‘Mount pleasant windmill’ which is in Kirton and opposite my wifes aunties house. They produce organic flours and breads, all by traditional means.

I also saw Sue and Rob our friends and neighbours who produce some of the best cakes in the world. Also getting into conversation with them they told me about other events that they do like this and that I should get something together and get a stall. Possibly selling homebrew chilli brandy in wooden bottles turned on the polelathe? or something, but I will definatly consider it for the future.

A few people recognised me from the paper which was nice and in all the excitement I did not buy alot, perhaps a good thing. I did get some powerful chilli sauce from the Gringerly gringo stall. It does exactly what it says on the tin, it’s HOT ! I also got R a bath bomb, to try and encourage him to actually have one sometimes.

It was nice to spend time with my friend Colin and his daughter and it was also an eye opener that for vegans the farmers market is a little slim on produce.

Brigg also has some great shops, health food shops, Oxfam books, a rather cute grocers and a looking great deli, so if you live in the area you should deffinatly take a look. The farmers market is on the fourth Saturday of every month, so see you there next time.