Welcome to the Secret Garden behind Bobber's Mill in Nottingham

Welcome to Windmill Community Gardens, home of the Climate Friendly Gardeners Project.

We are a group of local people, helped by Groundwork Greater Nottingham, who are resurrecting a wonderful community garden in the heart of the city. You'll find us at the South end of Ascot Road, near Collins Cash and Carry. The Gardens are a great place where anyone can come to find out more about growing their own food in a changing climate. We cater for all abilities and welcome any nationality or age group.

Why not come and join us?

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Wonderful Willow from Windmill

Each year, there's a rhythm to the work we need to do at Windmill, and at this time of year, it's all about willow. We have a living willow arch and a fedge (living willow fence / hedge), which both need to be harvested for willow poles and then to have the thinner branches woven into the structure to strengthen it and help it grow nice and thick. The harvested poles can be used as living willow, and also to weave edges for our herb beds. They also make good plant supports, as long as we let them dry enough not to grow roots!

This year, we had a good team of Matt, Ash, Dan, Saana, Greg and Matt P, so we managed to get the whole lot done in one go, and it's now looking very organised and healthy. The cut branches are waiting to be used and the pussy willow from the ends is cut and ready for a rather special role.

We've always had the aim to use our resources at Windmill to benefit the community, so when members of the Ukrainian Church asked if we had any pussy willow available some years ago, we said "Of course. Take what you need!" Since then, Maria and Gary have been coming along every year to harvest the pussy willow in the weeks before the Ukrainian Church celebrates Palm Sunday (a week later than the Church of England).

Maria and Gary

This year, we asked if they could let us see how the willow is used, so they sent us some great photos to show us and the following explanation -

As you can see when the palms have been blessed, the people take them and it is tradition to put them over religious icons in the home.Palms were apparently hard to get in Ukraine in days of old, so willow branches were substituted, Pussy willows are the preferred branch, but ordinary willows will do in a pinch.  Long branches are cut, and are blessed during the mass.  They are then passed out, and people (mostly young ones) then go around hitting each other with them and saying: 

Не я б’ю,

Верба б’є,                    

За тиждень Великдень

Не далеко червоне яєчко!                    

Which translates to 

                    It’s not me hitting you, 

                    It’s the willow hitting you, 

                    In a week it will be Easter,

                    Soon you will have a red egg.

We love this tradition, and the tradition of the gathering that is has created in our Community Gardens, and our volunteers love the generous gifts of food and chocolates that we get in return!

We've also given willow for making willow domes and supplying a local willow worker with materials for weaving and live willow work.

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Wishing you all a good Lohri and Wassail!

Wassail! And a good Lohri to all of you. If you are now thinking - "What on earth do they mean?!" then have a look here and here. What we mean, essentially, is that we got the new year at Windmill off to a great start by celebrating the harvest in the Punjab and celebrating fruit trees and looking forward to their harvest in Nottingham.

Hugh Miller's great photo from last year.

It actually all started with the wonderful Hugh Miller last year, who took such a lovely photo of us wassailing our Victoria plum tree, which helped us to advertise today's event - it got us even more interest than usual, including a mention in a Nottingham Post article and a mini documentary which is being made by a media student for their course! 

And this morning, the very wonderful Prakash who has been a mainstay of this event since its inception, got up at 4am to make us huge vats of gorgeous curry, vegetable rice and the kind of rice pudding that made everyone close their eyes in ecstasy when they tasted it. Then this afternoon, Jo, Kathy, Cicely, Shanaz, Ash, Jeremy, Claire and lots of lovely folk from Nature in Mind prepared fires, warmed the food and set out the kit to make ivy crowns for their hats, tickling sticks, and milk-bottle birds (just for fun). We provided wooden disks for people to write things they wanted to forget from 2017 and then burn them in the fire (or keep if it was a good memory). 

Getting the fire going at the main pidand starting the drumming
And then lots of lovely people turned up and had a great time getting ready for the wassailing, enjoying the food and then helping us with the actual wassail bit. We also had Mark Scoones who brought his wonderful drums for people to sit playing around the fire, and Cicely and Ash had prepared lots of sticks to use to toast marshmallows and toast on, which were very well used.

The second fire-pit - and the spring broccoli in blue!
Then came the wassailing. Tracey, Jeremy, Dianne and Derek have been practicing a bit since last year (ok, for the last week!), and actually did well enough to help the assembled folk to learn the Carhampton Apple Wassail. If you click on the link, you'll be able to hear it too, and we were thrilled that quite a few of the crowd had already done this as we'd shared it on Facebook, so we did the Apple tree proud, singing to it, putting toast in the branches, soaking the roots with apple juice, tickling it with the specially made tickling sticks, shouting "Wassail" and making a lot of noise with a huge variety of noise makers, from vuvusalas to ox-horns! Then we went on to wassail the old Victoria plum in the stone-fruit orchard over the bridge, which followed a similar pattern but with a different chant and no singing (it seems a bit rude to sing about apples to a plum tree...). On the way back, some of the attendees noted that the pear tree had been left out, so a few of us gave that a mini wassail.

Wassailing Victoria Plum

Here are the rhymes we used:

Carhampton Apple Wassail Song
Old Apple Tree we wassail thee and hope that thou might bear
For the lord doth know where we shall be come apples another year
For to bloom well and to bear well, so merry let us be.
Let everyone take off their hat and shout out to the old apple tree!

Pear and Plum Tree Wassail
Wassail the trees that they may bear
Many a plum and many a pear
For more or less fruits they will bring
As you do give them wassailing.

As usual, many stayed to enjoy the atmosphere for a while longer, and we realised we'd managed to persuade well over 50 people to spend a couple of happy hours in the fresh air on a dull January day, so hopefully a job well done. We'll see if the trees feel the benefit! 
Thank you to everyone who helped make our first festival of the year so successful.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Come and Join Us On Sunday 14th January to Start the New Year!

Come and help us to light up the darkest month at your Windmill Community Gardens! We’ll be mixing in elements of the Punjabi Lohri Festival with medieval traditions taken from Old Twelfth Night & other older ceremonies. 
From 2pm, there’ll be fires, drumming, good food & we’ll make decorations to hang in the fruit trees as we wassail them (Wassailing is an old tradition to celebrate fruit trees to ensure a good crop in the coming year).

We hope you can join us – please try to bring something to make noise with to help us wake up the trees!

Friday, 17 November 2017

Please Help Us!

Please, please vote for us in the Aviva Community Fund! Anyone can vote, from anywhere in the world, and Windmill Community Gardens really needs funds to create a warm and dry space for activities in Winter and bad weather. If you haven't yet voted for us in the Aviva Fund vote, please, please do! And if you can persuade friends and relatives to help, that would be even better!

We need as many votes as possible, not just 1000, so don't be put off and please vote before Monday!

Here's the LINK!

Look at us shivering in the chilly polytunnel, and look at all
those patched holes where the crows have pecked holes in it!

Christmas Herbal Workshop - back by popular demand!

Everyone loves our annual Christmas Herbal workshop with Katherine Bellchambers, so we're doing it again. This time Katherine, a trained medical herbalists will help us to make bath bombs and lip balm. You'll be able to take home lots of goodies, though we'll be asking for a donation of between £5 and £10 per person to cover ingredients and refreshments.

If you want to book a place, send a message on this blog, or a text to the number on the poster.

Look forward to seeing you, but book soon, as the places are already going fast!

Monday, 6 November 2017

A little present from one of our volunteers

One of the nice things about having our volunteers is that they bring all kinds of talents and hobbies with them, and Stuart, one of our Thursday volunteers is a keen poet, so we commissioned a poem for our Pumpkin Celebration and here it is:

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Best Pumpkin Celebration Yet!

Wow! What a fantastic celebration we had on Sunday!

Pumpkin carving workshops started at 10am, with a happy band who enjoyed the unexpected Autumn sunshine as they created masterpieces with the specialised tools that we have to do unusual pumpkin carving techniques like peeling and 3D carving under the tutelage of our resident expert, Tracey.

People continued to drop in to carve as we started to get set up with the help of some brilliant volunteers. Helen Domleo realised some of our early-bird helpers had succumbed to the flu that's going round so she dived in to start things off, then we were joined by Toto Sugiarto and Li San, NTU students who kindly volunteered to support us, along with Hillary who joined us from Click, despite having had a fall (we are full of admiration for her determination!). We also got some great early support from Jules and Tony who responded to our note on Helpfulpeeps, which was brilliant, and of course, our regular volunteers who hadn't been felled by the lurgy arrived and got stuck in - massive thanks to Ash, Jon, Matt, Rosy, Kathy, Cicely, Claire, Bryan, Ni, Dianne, Derek and Jeremy. Mary, Mo and Rochester arrived to provide some delicious pumpkin-based treats to supplement Kathy's soup and cake, and Ni's pumpkin pie, whilst Claire got a crash-course in taming the clay oven ready for the pumpkin and herb topped pizzas and Jeremy started on the pumpkin pancakes with toffee sauce.

We decorated the site with the "show stopper" pumpkins that Kathy, Tracey and Cicely had pre-prepared, and Helen's impressive haunted house pumpkin, then added some fun decorations to the "spooky woods", including a crashed witch and some creepy crawlies! Whilst we were doing that, Di and Derek were setting up a tombola, with a star prize of a giant teddy, kindly gifted by Collins Cash and Carry, which made the entrance to the site look very festive.

We'd already had "biggest pumpkin" entrants ahead of the event from AMC Gardens, Bulwell Forest Gardens and Ray Armstrong from Precision Stitching, so we thought we already had a winning giant from Ray at 45kg and 1.63m in circumference, but just as we opened a massive pumpkin was brought in by Cat and Miran from their plot on Bar Lane allotments. It took 3 people to weigh it and turned out to be 49kg, earning the star growers a £15 gift card (thank you to Braai King Restaurant on Aspley Lane for gifting this).

Whilst we were doing the weighing, people were having fun. The polytunnel was rammed with happy pumpkin carvers with Ni on hand to give them tips, people were bobbing for apples, making apple slinkies and apple juice, scaring themselves in the Spooky Woods, playing pumpkin related games or sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows. The food area was also very popular, with queues to sample all the pumpkin-related treats.

We judged the best pumpkins from adults and children - the winner of the Adult category was Claire Salter who won cinema tickets from the Savoy, and the winner of the Children's competition was Asher - who won a family day pass from David Lloyd Leisure. Our thanks to both sponsors for
giving us the great prizes.

Claire, winner of the adult competition
Asher's winning pumpkin from the children's competition
Then we lit all the pumpkins whilst the Nottingham Phoenix Fire Group put on a spectacular display of fire-juggling in the orchard outside - a wonderful climax to the day, though most visitors came back in to enjoy the glowing lanterns and sit around the fire for a while longer.

It was the culmination of lots of hard work in preparation and many fantastic volunteers on the day. Thank you again to everyone who helped and all who attended. Thanks to Matt and Chris for the bulk of the photos, and to all who sent us photos on Facebook. Well done all!