Green Drinks: Tuesday 20th March

Next week we’re going to be welcoming Hayley and Keith from Greengrow to talk to us about their Ilketshall based vegetable growing co-operative. They’re working hard to do something really difficult – making a living working on the land. As well as growing and supplying vegetables to local shops, restaurants and households Greengrow also offer volunteering opportunities and work with school children. We’re also hoping a few people from Norwich FarmShare a community-led vegetable growing scheme that serves the city will be joining us for a pint.

It set me thinking a bit about what more local supply might mean for Bungay – after all we tend to look back at what used to exist in terms of numbers of local shops and traders and imagine things might be similar now if only it weren’t for the supermarkets – but there are far more people now and our lives are very different. I started to think a little bit about the market for fruit and veg and here’s what I discovered about scale and value using basic figures from the 2001 census and the Office for National Statistics (it took about 10 minutes to find all this so it isn’t very rigorous):

Population of Bungay, Ditchingham and Earsham wards = about 10,000
Average weekly household spend on food and drink (2010 figures) = £53.20
Average weekly spend on fruit and vegetables = £7.10 (of which £3.10 was fruit and £4 vegetables)
Estimated number of households in the three wards = 3000 (rough guess)
Estimated annual spend on food and drink by households in Bungay, Ditchingham and Earsham wards = £8,299,200
Estimated annual spend of fruit and veg in Bungay, Ditchingham and Earsham wards = £1,107,600

By my reckoning, and regardless of what mix of produce is being sold and where it is grown, that one million pounds could support 4 good sized green grocers and employ an owner/proprietor and several part and full time staff in each shop. (I’m using shops for ease of doing this – could better be a mix of community supported agriculture schemes, box schemes, shops and markets)

And what if they sold more local produce? (defining ‘local’ is slippery, but I think I mean grown in the Waveney valley.) Even if only 60% of the vegetables and 15% of the fruit sold by those green grocers were grown locally it could support two small market garden / fruit businesses, or specialisation to meet demand on half a dozen farms which again would support a number of jobs.

On the one hand this shows there is a huge opportunity – but it also demonstrates what a massive gap exists in infrastructure, skills and how little support there really is for local food at present: we just about support one small green grocer in town and in terms of sales the co-op (which draws from a much wider area than just the three wards listed above) perhaps represents one green grocer of the type I imagine above.

Given that both the co-op and to a lesser extent Tutti Fruiti have a wider sphere of influence than just the three wards it’s probably fair to say that Bungay, Ditchingham and Earsham are 3 green grocers short of the possible – and that over three quarters of a million pounds that could be spent locally is spent elsewhere and most of that (70% or more) is spent in supermarkets who whisk it overseas or into the pockets of distant shareholders (as an aside wouldn’t it be great if your pension fund invested in local enterprises you could see, get involved in or even benefit from..?). And that’s just 10,000 people in three small wards.

The benefits of more local fruit and vegetable supplies – not least freshness and nutritional value, reduced environmental impact, economic returns to the community – are well known. So why aren’t we all doing more? And anyway what can we do? Tutti Fruiti sources locally and schemes like Greengrow are doing a great job – what else could we be doing to support them. And should we be having conversations with the Rainbow Co-op about their centralised supply chain?

Come along to the Green Dragon next Tuesday (19th, 7:30pm) to hear what is happening locally, share your ideas, have a chat – and perhaps enjoy a locally brewed pint!

Adopt a Herb with Dan Wheals – Plants for Life Sunday 18 March 3pm at Bungay Library

For the third of our monthly Plants for Life talks, walks and workshops, we welcome medical herbalist and Suffolk Coastal’s Community Environmental Action Advisor, Dan Wheals, who’ll show us practical and creative ways we can adopt one particular herb and find out all about it.

Active within the local and regional Transition movement, Dan will also be speaking about Transition herbalism, how everyone can increase well-being and resilience by growing and working with plants in a time of limited resources and energy constraints.

Do come and join us on Sunday 18th March at Bungay Library, Wharton Street at 3pm. We look forward to seeing you there. Read the write-ups of the first two vibrant plant talks: in January – Connecting with our Roots, and February – Growing Organic Herbs. Let’s keep planting seeds and talking plants!

For any and all enquiries about the Plants for Life events and the Plant Medicine bed 2012 at Bungay Library Community garden, call Mark Watson on 01502 722419 or email

Film Nights Past and Future

Robert Newman's History of Oil

Robert Newman's History of Oil

On our first film night this year we watched Robert Newman’s History of oil. What a fantastic film! Putting oil center stage as crucial to the understanding of the last 100 years of our History. This is a film that will really make you revisit and question alot of the history we have taken as being the truth.

I strongly recommend it to everyone, please contact me if you would like to borrow it otherwise you can watch it on You tube although as it is a film of a performance the quality is pretty poor.

more info:

What about me?

What about me?

Coming up this Friday the 9th March at 7.30pm we will be watching the exciting film “What about me?”. An explosion of music and philosophy. Producers Jamie Catto (Faithless) and Duncan Bridgeman travelled to 50 different location across the globe in the name of exploring the complexities of human nature. They gathered hundreds of interviews and recorded many music sessions and songs. They took an inspiring and alarming look at the numerous ways we humans drive ourselves crazy. This is a really energetic and raw film! “Needy in relationships, insatiable in desire, avoiding all pain with happy pills and unable to stop thinking – but how we still manage to be inspired and creative”.

more info:

I hope you will be able to join us for this screening.

Future screenings will include “Into Eternity”, by Danish director Michael Madsen, about the creation of a deep geological repository for nuclear waste on an island off Finland. We also hope to arrange a screening of brand new film “In Transition : A story of resilience and hope in extraordinary times”. Watch this space for future film night dates.

For more info contact Eloise:

Postscript: We all enjoyed “What About Me” so much we had to replay a few songs and get down and (barn) dance. Photo above by Mark Watson