52 Flowers That Shook My World with Charlotte Du Cann, Sunday 5th August, 3pm, Bungay Library

For our eighth Plants for Life event this year, don’t miss Sustainable Bungay author Charlotte Du Cann as she takes a radical look at medicine plants with a reading from her just-published book 52 Flowers That Shook My World – A Radical Return to Earth (Two Ravens Press, 2012).

52 Flowers is the result of a ten year exploration of the living territories of the earth and the plants, places and people connected with them, as the author moves away from a high-energy, high-octane lifestyle towards a more earth-based life; an ‘energy descent’ experienced firsthand.

You can read more about it by clicking the above link, and also here.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Bungay Library is in Wharton St., Bungay, NR35 1EL

Bikes in Transition

After many years supporting racing cyclists I decided that I would like to develop the touring side of cycling to enjoy our lovely countryside and invite people to join in. Often people do not cycle because they feel that they have to be dressed in lycra and have new specialist machines.

In 2011, with the support of Sustainable Bungay and the Beccles and Bungay Cycle Strategy, I organised a series of rides throughout the summer. The rides were well attended and took people through lanes at a leisurely pace. They were particularly popular during National Bike Week

This year’s Godric Way ride on 22nd July starts at the Library to raise funds. You do not need to be sponsored unless you wish to be. There will be refreshments at the start and finish and also a coffee stop en route. 25 miles – with several short cuts back to Bungay! Keep an eye out for our Car-Free Day cycle events on 22nd September.

Margaret Sheppard (For more information about the Beccles and Bungay Cycle Strategy, Car Free Day or the Godric Cycle Ride contact Margaret through the Sustainable Bungay contact form)

Pig Club (returns!)

Fancy DIY bacon? Plans are firming up for a pig club near Bungay. It’s an increasingly popular and straightforward arrangement where a group of people share the costs and responsibilities for feeding, watering and caring for one or two pigs in exchange for a share of pork. Interested? Contact me and come to an initial meeting in July (details below).

Organic Pigs

Ideal land has now been found near Bungay and the pigs are needed to help clear the site ready for vegetable growing next year, so the animals will be as useful alive as they will be tasty later on. The club is a great a way to get real and be involved in all aspects of pig husbandry, understanding that when we eat meat it was once a living creature. Anyone willing to get hands-on and help look after the porkers is welcome: we hope to have our first pigs by the end of the summer. In the meantime Local Foods Suffolk are running a pig-keeping course on 14th July at Oak Tree Low Carbon Farm near Ipswich. The course will cover all the basics  for beginners planning to keep a few animals.

Contact Dano  dano@herbaculture.co.uk for more information about the pig club.

Plants for Life Review and What's Coming Up this Summer

The Plants for Life series of walks, talks and workshops on plant medicine continues to gather pace. In April we Walked with Weeds around Bungay and explored their medicinal qualities. In May, Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, authors of Hedgerow Medicine, brought herbal tinctures, plant syrups and huge knowledge to a packed library as well as an elderflower water with the most incredible aroma. And in June we learned how to make wild plant oils and ointments of plantain and St. Johns wort with Rose Titchiner, visited Outney Common for wildflowers and discussed plant families at Green Drinks. So far there have been between a dozen and forty people at the Sunday sessions.

These events are a great way to meet up with other people interested in finding out more about plants and the medicine they bring. They also provide a space for anyone to share their own knowledge of and direct experience with the plants. It’s all about paying attention to the earth’s living systems, and fostering well-being on an individual, collective and planetary level by connecting with those systems.

In the Wild Plant Oils session a woman described how eating feverfew leaves at the onset of a migraine worked for her every time without fail. You can read this fact in a hundred herbals but when you hear it from someone with firsthand experience it brings the whole thing alive.

Back at the library after Walking With the Weeds, we drank a fresh Wild Green tea Charlotte had prepared whilst we were out, and which someone afterwards told me was a total revelation! And a Japanese friend wrote saying how much she enjoyed the afternoon and wished us “Good luck, Weeds Professors!”

You can also read a short article I wrote about Plants for Life in the well-being section of the preview issue of the new Transition Free Press (p.13). Printed copies are available from Bungay Library (along with the latest Sustainable Bungay newsletter), and updates on many of the articles can be found on the TFP website.

Plants for Life this Summer

Here is what we have planned for the summer. This coming Sunday 15th July Plants for Life meets Bungay Community Bees at the second Bungay Bee Hive Day, when I will lead a Bee & Flower Walk around town at 12.15pm, starting at the marquee on Castle Meadow and including a visit to the Plant Medicine bed at Bungay Library.

Last year twenty five of us explored a meadow, alleyways, wastegrounds, Margaret’s garden, a car park and the community garden – all in the centre of town and within the space of an hour. For the full (and full-on) programme of this year’s Bee Hive day click HERE.


Shake, Rattle and Roll with 52 Flowers

On Sunday 5th August don’t miss Sustainable Bungay author Charlotte Du Cann as she takes a radical look at medicine plants with a reading from her just-published book 52 Flowers That Shook My World – A Radical Return to Earth (Two Ravens Press, 2012). Charlotte will also be doing a bee-focused reading from 52 Flowers at Bungay Bee Hive Day, 15th July at 2pm.

And on September 23rd at the Equinox and as the season turns we’ll be learning about (and sampling) some Autumn Berry Tonics.

Both the August and September sessions are at the library at 3pm

The Plant Medicine Bed

And the Plant Medicine Bed in the Library Community Garden? On my latest visit, Friday 6th July the elecampane and burdock were giant, the vervain growing tall, the thyme tumbling over the wall of the bed. The self-heal was coming into flower and the buddleia preparing for its 2012 blooming. We’ll be looking at and talking about Burdock, amongst other plants on the Bee and Flower walk next Sunday.

Everyone is welcome at all Plants for Life events. If you want to know more about plants as medicine or share what you know, come along. There is no charge but donations are happily received.

NB: I will be at the library garden most Fridays during the summer between 1 and 3pm for a ‘plant surgery’ and to talk about the Plants for Life project and events. Come and say hello.

So far I’ve been joined by Carol Stone, permaculturist, wild bee lover and co-ordinator of no less than forty six community food projects in Devon, on a visit to Norfolk with her partner Nigel. And Christian and Fairy, recently back from a year in South America and finding their feet again in Suffolk. Fairy gave me a hand tidying some of the ox-eye daisies which had been bashed around a bit by the recent winds and rain, and we spoke about everything from Ecuador to Elecampane to confronting  mass negative assumptions about getting older.

I also removed armies of slugs and snails and transported them to a nearby wasteground and spoke with Richard about slug pubs, though we haven’t got round to making them yet!

For all info on Plants for Life events and the Plant Medicine Bed 2012 at Bungay Library, contact Mark Watson: 01502 722419, markintransition@hotmail.co.uk, or check this website for regular updates.

Images: Outney Common wildflower walk, June 2012; Josiah gets into legumes with Great British Beans at midsummer’s Green Drinks; at the Wild Plant Oils workshop with Rose, June 2012; Bee and Flower Walk Bungay Bee Hive Day July 2011*; 52 Flowers That Shook My World by Charlotte Du Cann – cover; Six of the Plant Medicines in the community garden, July 2012; discussing Burdock with Richard, July 2012. All images from Mark Watson except * from Muhammad Amin

Happy Mondays – coming up this summer

What we need is a big big cooking pot
Big enough to cook every wonderful
Beautiful, trustworrthy, lovely idea we’ve got

From Harmony by the Happy Mondays

The monthly Happy Mondays Community Meal comes around all too soon and for the kitchen crew, myself included, it’s heads down and kitchen knives at the ready for a 4pm start. There’s always an air of quiet anticipation in the kitchen as we begin, but also a determined food prepping professionalism. Despite the community centre oven’s temperamental fits, and maybe a last minute dash for that vital ingredient, there’s a great feeling of satisfaction when, with moments to spare, another delicious meal is all plated up and ready to eat.

We cater for around 50 people at 7pm on the third Monday of each month: beautiful seasonal flowers always decorate the long table, thanks to Margaret and Beryl, and a friendly atmosphere prevails with chats across the table.

Planned up and coming food themes are: a Greek evening, an adults’ tea party and a Mexican night with a possible repeat of the legendary Moroccan theme with mint tea. This October we’re hosting a special meal to celebrate the honeybee with Bungay Community Bees who will be closing their apiaries for the winter. The meal will naturally include honey but will also highlight the many fruits and vegetables that rely on insect pollination. Dinner will be followed by a short talk on bees and beekeeping by Elinor McDowall of Bungay Community Bees.

A regular feature of Happy Mondays is Sustainable Bungay’s Abundance table; a table of free produce to share out. Please feel free to contribute if you have any spare plants or gluts of fruit and veg, and don’t feel shy about taking something home!

A great community meal is all about sharing and keeping it local. Book online here and bring along £5 per person, your own drinks / alcohol / partner / friend / enemy / neighbour / stranger as you see fit and join us for our next meal.

Text and image by Lesley Hartley

REPORT: What if… the sea keeps rising?

In the C14th barn at the Museum of East Anglian Life, Stowmarket, the effects of climate change on our shorelines were discussed as part of the Festival of Transition. Andrew Simms from the New Economics Foundation gave an overview, highlighting that at the original Rio Earth Summit greenhouse gases needed to be reduced by 3% a year. Twenty years later it is now 7%, the earth’s temperature has risen, the polar ice cap is melting – and Shell has issued injunctions against every Greenpeace office in the world protesting against Arctic drilling.

He reminded us that if all the ice melts it is calculated that the seas would rise 80m (at 10m 25% of US Americans would be under water). Jenny Scofield from the Environment Agency then outlined 3 options for Shoreline Management over 100 years: 1. Hold the line. 2. Active intervention. 3. Managed realignment. She was concerned that to hold the line means we need to armour our coast too much. Tony Butler, the museum’s curator described how people have dealt with flooding in the past, from the inundation of  Zuiderzee in 1287 when 50,000 drowned, to the draining of the fens in 17th century. There are now 60 miles of coastal dykes and 90 miles of high river banks and the waterlands we live in have changed dramatically. In the 1950’s half the population was employed in agriculture, now it is 0.5%. He then invited us to re-imagine our future place in the landscape.

Text by Roger Wilfert

Image: Laurence Edward’s The Creek Men www.laurenceedwardssculpture.com

Bungay Bee Hive Day: 15th July

Bungay Bee Hive Day is a celebration of the honeybee and other pollinating insects along with the plants they love. Unique in the region and in its second year the event is organised by Bungay Community Bees as part of the Bungay Festival and aims to promote awareness and enjoyment of the essential relationship between people, plants and bees.

After the success of last year’s event which attracted around 1000 people, Bungay Community Bees have invited Heidi Hermann, Founder Trustee of the Natural Beekeeping Trust, to talk about swarming – perhaps the most exhilarating event of a honeybee colony’s annual lifecycle. The Natural Beekeeping Trust was formed in response to the critical situation of the honeybee which has led many beekeepers to question approaches to beekeeping that rely on chemical inputs and to seek to improve the wider landscape in which bees live.

Co-Founder of Bungay Community Bees Elinor McDowall said: ‘We’re very lucky to have Heidi Hermann joining us on the 15th. It’s the first time she’s spoken in East Anglia and this is a great opportunity for local beekeepers and those interested in bees to come and hear about this growing new holistic take on bee husbandry’.

Building on the theme of this year’s Bee Hive Day, Rose Titchiner of Bungay Community Bees will explain how we can provide year-round plants and habitats for bees, pollinators and wildlife . She’ll introduce Bungay Community Bees’ Get your Garden Buzzing project – a bee-friendly plant labelling scheme that can be used by any garden centre. Meanwhile there will be a Bee and Flower Walk around Bungay’s diverse green spaces, local author Charlotte Du Cann reading from her latest book 52 Flowers That Shook My World, a screening of the highly acclaimed film Queen of the Sun and a panel discussion. Waveney Beekeeping Group and Bungay Community Bees will display hives, equipment and information to show how honeybees work and how they can be supported by beekeepers.

Information stalls and displays covering all aspects of beekeeping and pollinators will be complemented by those selling bee-friendly plants, seeds, bee-related crafts and of course honey! There will be an activities area where children and adults can make their own bug hotels, beeswax lip balm or get their faces painted and a quiet reading corner stocked with bee books and magazines. Bungay Community Kitchen will provide refreshments.

You can download a .pdf of our press release here
You’ll find a .pdf of our programme and details of all our speakers here

In the Marquee


10:30: Welcome to Bee Hive Day

10:45: Elinor McDowall of Bungay Community Bees will talk about the challenges facing bees and pollinators of all kinds and the work of Bungay Community Bees

11:30: Heidi Hermann, Founder Trustee of the Natural Beekeeping Trust will give an inspirational talk about swarming, highlighting aspects and dispelling myths about this most exhilarating event of a honeybee colony’s annual lifecycle

12:15: Join the Neal’s Yard remedies team, who will  be demonstrating how to make an organic bees wax lip balm – join them and take some lip balm home with you

1:20: Rose Titchiner talks about how we can provide year-round Plants and Habitats for Bees, Pollinators and Wildlife and Bungay Community Bees’ Get Your Garden Buzzing project

2:00: Author Charlotte Du Cann talks about wild flowers and their relationship with bees, with excerpts from her new book 52 Flowers That Shook My World – A Radical Return to Earth

Around the Town


12:15: Starting at the marquee, join Mark Watson on a Bee & Flower Walk around Bungay’s diverse green spaces as Plants for Life meets Bungay Community Bees

In the Cinema tent


2:40: Film Screening: Queen of the Sun What Are the Bees Telling Us? A profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis. Taking a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, the film weaves an unusual and dramatic story of the heartfelt struggles of beekeepers, scientists and philosophers from around the world including Michael Pollan, Gunther Hauk and Vandana Shiva. Together they reveal both the problems and the solutions in renewing a culture in balance with nature. Followed by a panel discussion with Bungay Community Bees, Heidi Hermann of the Natural Beekeeping Trust

Throughout the day


Adults and children will be able to take part in bee crafts including candle making and building bug hotels. Our Reading Corner will be a quiet space full of bee books and magazines. There will be stalls selling plants for pollinator gardens and bee related art, the Waveney Beekeepers Group will bring information, honey and an observation hive whilst the Iceni Microscopy Group will be looking at bees in detail. Bungay Community Bees will bring displays of hives and beekeeping equipment, images and information about the beekeeping year. Refreshments will be provided by Bungay Community Kitchen