Tree Planting in Walsden

Mist in the air, with gorgeous yellows, greens and rust red grass colours – how I love autumn…letting go of that which we no longer need, making space to connect with the dark earth, the mystery that feeds us all; from where we came and return to. Celebrating this dance with the planting of trees, leaving a legacy with no human name just a helping hand that cared enough to let it be so.

Kicked off this season’s tree planting with a weekend in Walsden. Blue skies, glorious sunshine, T-shirt weather and all those gorgeous autumn colours coming through – was wonderful.
View from planting site at Warland Farm in Walsden.This particular site was chosen as one of many strategic sites to plant trees creating a catchment area where trees can help retain water and thus stop soil erosion. Especially, important considering the horrendous flashfloods in Hebden Bridge earlier this year.

Tug test = making sure the baby tree roots are securely and firmly bedded into mother earth to grow big and strong.

Once the baby tree is in the ground its overlaid with newspaper, a plastic tube to stop rabbits eating it and a hessian sack to stop weeds – amazingly dressed for winter.

Winston’s excellent supervision ensured all trees were happily planted.
A prince in disguise? On this occasion no princess was lured…
Woodcraft folk kindly let us stay in their wonderful eco barn for the weekend.

Stunning views from the barn where we stayed.

Fareshare for all; relieving poverty in the Northwest of England

In the 1950s, it was felt that poverty in the UK was a thing of the past. However, in the first three months of 2012 the UK economy returned to recession, shrinking by an estimated 0.2%. The knock on effect of the Government’s austerity measures is affecting standards of living amongst most households, with some families struggling to pay the mortgage, nursery fees, fill the tank or even meet their most basic needs – the supermarket bill.
Over 4 million people in the UK live in food poverty, lacking access to healthy affordable food. FareShare is one of many charities which have stepped in to fill the gap, and indeed empty stomachs. The group, managed by volunteers, collects donations of food from large multi-national retailers, and redistributes it to 65 communities and organisations with immediate need to provide meals to people. At the same time, it reduces some of the annual 8.3 million tons of food waste in the UK.

Sebastien Serayat is the Project Manager for FareShare North West and explained how it works, “We serve approximately 70 organisations in Manchester and the North West with perfectly in date crates of food that is donated to FareShare. For example the outer packaging from a packet of muesli or tins of baked beans may have been missing. Fresh fruit and vegetables are also donated & stored in huge fridges and meat in freezers.”
Over fifty volunteers work at the North West branch of the charity, sorting food orders and loading up a refrigerated van for deliveries. Some of these volunteers are long term unemployed or have a lack of formal education. The organisation also offers work experience and training opportunities to get them back on the job ladder.

One volunteer, John, has benefitted from the charity. “FareShare changed my life. I was at the end of my tether; lost my job, home, everything. I was in a terrible way. FareShare provide food to people who have hit hard times like me and it made all the difference. They also offered me a training opportunity so that I could get back to work. I’m stronger now so want to give something back because I know what it’s like.”
The charity delivers food to some of the most deprived areas of Greater Manchester. One group which receives the food deliver is The Factory Youth Zone, a breakfast and lunch club in Harpurhey – a Manchester ward where more than half the children are living in poverty according to the M.E.N’s special report on child poverty. The club, which is opposite a fast food restaurant, provides up to 170 young people a week with a nutritious, affordable meal.

Some of the young people who I spoke to (but preferred to remain anonymous) regularly eat meals at The club saying; “it’s good that we are able to get the food which is thrown away even though there is nothing wrong with it” and “it’s good because we can try new things for free and get a meal for nearly nothing at all”

Loaves and Fishes, a homeless charity in Salford, also benefits from the donations. The busy canteen staff has served meals to 3,500 people this year that would otherwise be sleeping on the streets of Manchester. Audrey, one of the cooks explains, “With the support of FareShare we are able to provide healthier food to the men and women coming in for help.”

In the run up to Christmas, when pressure on finances can be at boiling point for some families, Fareshare will be at its busiest. Sebastien quote here, “We would be really interested in hearing from new volunteers, or other organisations who would be willing to supply food… etc.”

Notes to Editors
Families living in poverty*: 1140 (48%)
Children living in poverty*: 2170 (50%)
* Defined as living on less than 60% of average income. Extracted from M.E.N’s special report on child poverty.


The Timelessness of Cloud Root

I saw this rich contemplative drawing at the British Museum earlier this year.

The drawing came with the following description – The concept of cloud root fuses dualities: the ephemeral (clouds) and the eternal (rock). Yet it is only because of our limited experience of time that they appear to us as opposites. Rocks change shape driven by natural forces just as clouds do.

It’s a wonderful teaching of Temporality – how death awaits us all levelling things out in the end. Our universal common heritage, where we’re all in the queue but just don’t know exactly when it will be our time. And yet when dissolution does occur how this affirms our primordial bond with the elements of this planet. Flesh and bones breakdown into dust feeding the earth and the air that we once breathed and animated us returns silently to the sky all above.

This drawing also reminds me that when the veil is lifted from a limited dualistic experience of time things appear naturally as they are; as an interconnectedness with other life forms where we share a kinship of timelessness.