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Organic Gardening And Volunteering

Doing a bit of voluntary work on our plot entitles you to whatever veg. is available. To show people that we're not completely mad and to make sure our volunteers go home with a bit more than a couple of nasturtium leaves and a few pretty flowers, our bottom plots are given over to growing your more traditional leek and potato type vegetables. All organically grown of course.
The arguments for organic food has been well rehearsed but its worth remembering that some lettuces have been sprayed 15 times. While shop bought fruit may look more dazzling, that visual perfection is a sure sign that it has been sprayed over and over again to prevent the slightest blemish. A typical commercial orchard may been sprayed 15 times or more during the growing season, including herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, and the fruit sprayed again in storage. Much of this spraying is purely cosmetic and has nothing to do with increasing yield. Tasty!

The BSE and foot and mouth crisis makes a mockery of those that argue that our present way of farming gives us cheap food. On the contrary the current system ensures that we end up paying three times for our food - once over the counter, a second time in tax subsidies for farming and a third time in cleaning up pollution. As the Soil Association points out "The quest for ever cheaper food is at the root of all these problems. It has encouraged farmers to cut corners, compromising food safety and animal welfare and damaging the environment. We all end up paying a heavy price through our taxes to clear up the mess." Professor Jules Pretty of the University of Essex has calculated that even before foot and mouth, the hidden costs of industrial agriculture to our health and our environment added up to at least £2.3 billion a year!

Wildlife Gardening

From the top of the site you can see the South Downs - a green desert of a landscape that looks like someone's taken a giant lawnmower to it and shaved off all the vegetation. Every year the rains come and wash away the topsoil and in the winter of 2000 washed it straight into some people's homes.

Our site, which is park of the Wild Park Nature Reserve, couldn't be more of a contrast and the local wildlife certainly seem to have given it the thumbs up. No chemicals or pesticides, a double hedgerow of native trees, a big pond and lots of hidiholes means that the whole site has become a wildlife haven - an important `green lung' for the town, backing off into wood and farmland. There's foxes, moles, voles, frogs, lizards, slow worms, numerous birds, butterflies and insects. We even spotted a stoat once (in fact the only wildlife we don't take too kindly to is the slug which receives an organic solution of beer traps or a short sharp boot to the head).

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