Grow an 'Edible Bouquet' Sunday April 28th 3pm Bungay Library

Edible plants 3

Join us on Sunday April 28th at 3pm at Bungay Library for a Garden Workshop ‘Grow an Edible Bouquet’

The garden workshop will involve sowing seeds to grow your own Edible Bouquet, edible plant activities, gardening chat and an edible posy to take home. Please bring some seeds to share, examples: Nasturtium, Sunflower, Bergamot (Monarda Didyma) Sweet Violet, Borage, Primrose (Primula Vulgaris) Calendula (Pot Marigold) and herbs.

All ages welcome, children must accompanied by an adult. A free garden workshop with donations kindly requested.

Kings Seeds of Colchester kindly donated some seeds.

Bungay Co Op kindly donated Basil plants


Considering Transition community events as cultural and creative acts

by Charlotte Du Cann

Last month as part of the Playing for Time project, a convergence of artists, theatre makers, writers and tutors met at Lumb Bank, the Arvon Foundation’s centre in South Yorkshire. We were collecting material that will form the core of the book – the practices and projects of community-led creative action. To help shape the week and to introduce Transition, I mapped out the following events in the light of the work.

The invitation

Dear contributors to Playing for Time,

I am writing a few notes on three Transition events, so you might consider your own projects and practices in the light of one very ordinary Transition initiative.

If you don’t know much about the Transition movement, this is one way of looking at it in action. Every initiative differs according to its town or bio-region, but all of us work from the same premise: to help create resilient communities that can adapt to the shocks of climate change, peak oil and economic downturn. In many ways we are working in preparation for hard times ahead – creating a low-energy future that people might want to live in, rather than fear. And one, for sure, where none of us feels on our own.

I have included links to blog posts about these three events if you would like to check them out later (no pressure!)

Looking forward to working with you all this week.

Best wishes,


Who we are
IMG_8261Sustainable Bungay is based in a small market town in Suffolk, in the Waveney Valley. We are unfunded and without any formal links to any organisation, or public arts body. None of the people taking part in this initiative would consider themselves artists, or these events we put on as art forms; yet thinking about creative collaboration within the context of Playing for Time, everything we do has strong creative base. We are deliberately forging a new culture for a new time, a culture not made up of operas or fine wine or complex poetry.

Our work comes from necessity, rather than theory: it’s grassroots, vernacular, based on gatherings, rooted in time and place. It doesn’t have a hero writer or diva centre stage, with an audience gazing passively upward, but takes place in a room full of participants, with an organising, often invisible, core. Everyone belongs in this space and time. Everyone has a voice.

In Bungay we all bring something to share and we all take turns. Our events are organised by one to five people and everything else self-organises. We don’t do visionings or have strategies. Most of us learn on the job. None of us are rich or influential.

We have a core group of 15-20 people with several sub-groups, who have been working together for five years, producing a regular monthly programme of talks, walks, workshops, film showings etc. that are open to all the community to attend. These include a twice-yearly Give and Take Day, monthly Green Drinks, and seasonal celebrations, such as summer picnics and seed, plant and produce swaps. Our activities are based around the local library where we built and maintain a community permaculture garden, and hold many of our meetings.

All these events were photographed and written up afterwards in a series of blogposts. Keeping a record is part of our communications work.

The events

Image1697HAPPY MONDAYS at the COMMUNITY KITCHEN: Mexican Fiesta, September 2012

Monthly meal for 50 people, cooked from scratch using local, seasonal and mostly organic produce. £5

Crew: 16 (5 cooks, 2 front of house, 3 servers, 3 set-up/flowers, 3 washers up)

Venue: local community centre

All of our meals have a theme and sometimes this is a country. Last September I directed a meal, based on Mexico (where I once lived) that took place just after Mexican Independence Day. Most of the food was locally sourced, including several kinds of chilli. Our maize, onions and runner beans were from a local allotment, blackberries from the common, Mexican sunflowers and cosmos from local gardens.

Our Abundance table was truly abundant, filled with Indian summer sweet corn and chilli plants, tomatoes, peppers, raspberries, apples, garlic etc. Mexico is a great place for convivial gatherings, and this was the theme of my short talk between courses, as well as Beans and their place in a low-carbon diet. We also had a Spanish-singing Transition a capella crew, singing the mariachi standard, Cielito Lindo.

All simple stuff. Yet it’s this attention to detail and celebration of ordinary and beautiful things at your feet and working alongside your fellows that makes such events joyful and satisfying in a way a Hollywood movie never can be.


A daylong “celebration of the honeybee and the flowers they love”, as part of the town’s annual festival, held at Castle Meadow (one of the town commons). Free.

Crew: 16 (one event manager, one stalls manager, 3 cafe organisers, 10 set up and breakdown/stall keepers, one grower of bee-friendly plants)

Activities: stalls, workshops, plant walk, film, talks, cafe, children’s corner

Venue: festival marquee, under the trees and around town

The Bungay Beehive Day is organised by members of Bungay Community Bees – the first community-supported apiculture in the UK. The group keep community hives in different gardens and orchards around the town, teach children about bees, give talks about pollinators to local groups, work with a local nursery to promote bee-friendly plants, build their own top-bar hives, train beekeepers and have bee-related events.

Beehive Day invites several speakers, ranging from the professional (Heidi from the Natural Beekeeping Trust) and amateur (Philip, ex-surgeon and local bumblebee “expert”) to local beekeeping groups and the day includes discussions, a film and readings. The stalls sell honey and organic plants, have demonstration hives, info about pesticides etc. and there is a honey cake competition and a bee-flower walk around the town.

Beehive Day is visited by between 600-800 people, and like other SB events, is self-funded.

BCB also grow their own stock of bee-loving plants and have planted a wild flower meadow, with a local landowner, as part of a “River of Flowers” project around the town.


A series of knowledge. skill-share and reconnection with nature events, based around a Herbs for Resilience plant medicine bed at the local library. Donations.

Crew: 2 (organiser and event manager)

Venue: community library and courtyard garden

Each year the Library community garden central bed has a different theme and is curated by a different member of the group. In 2010 this was Plants for Bees and Butterflies, this year The Edible Garden. In 2012 the bed was abundant with wild and garden medicine plants, from a huge burdock to stands of tiny thyme flowers.

Each month between eight and forty people came for a talk, walk or workshop on the theme of plants as medicine. Each Plants for Life session featured a guest ‘plant person’ speaker and included medical and lay herbalists, authors, organic and biodynamic growers, and home winemakers.

“We looked at the medicine under the ground as we connected with our roots in January, learned growing tips in February, adopted a herb to focus on for the year in March, walked with weeds in April, heard about hedgerow medicine in May, made midsummer wildflower oils in June, went on a bee and flower walk in July, had our world shaken by 52 flowers in August, made autumn tonic tinctures in September, medicinal wines in October and French tisanes in November.” (Mark Watson)

We tasted, talked, foraged, shared tips and teas and exchanged seeds. Transition medicine is as much about plant knowledge and maintaining well-being, as it is about getting in synch with the living systems – not as a solitary practice but as a communal one.

Images: creatures made from clay behind our backs – workshop led by Julia Roundtree (Clayground) at Lumb Bank*; Sustainable Bungay crew with van, Give and Take Day, 2012*;  Abundance table at Mexican Fiesta, Happy Mondays, Sept 2012**; bees in one of Bungay Community Bees top bar hives***; poster for Plants for Life, Oct 2012** by *Charlptte Du Cann, **Mark Watson, ***Elinor McDowall

REPORT: Mapping Bungay wellbeing walk no 1 – Falcon Meadow and Bridge Street

Image3313Last Saturday seven of us met up at the Bungay Community Library garden to start our wellbeing series of walks around Bungay. We are mapping all the best spaces and green places in town throughout the summer and wlll be posting up our next ones in the new newsletter out at the end of the month. Meanwhile here is one of the group, Jenni Jepson with her impresssions of the morning:

All the signs were there, pointing to the possibility that this was going to be one of those special days…very special!

Image3323Overnight there’d been a major atmospheric shift. After months of being stuck in a wintry northern quarter, the weathervanes on Bungay church had swung round to the warm west.

And at daybreak there was a clear blue sky. The birds knew that spring had arrived: the dawn chorus was louder than ever and three pairs of big gulls celebrated in style as they circled in the warm air currents above Clays print works. Food was no longer their top priority: it was being in the moment, having fun!

A short time later, I joined a small group from Sustainable Bungay, delighted to have this chance to celebrate the arrival of spring with other folk. Just the previous day, news had reached me that the first swallows of summer had been sighted in the Waveney valley.

Our impromptu stroll took us to some favourite “secret” spots along the Waveney backwaters. On the way, we stopped in no man’s land near the library to look at a healthy mixed crop of bittercress and chickweed; a reminder that the forager’s season has started. (Made a mental note to come back and pick some for a spring salad!)

Image3326It felt good to stroll round, sharing and savouring some of the treasures, large and small, on our doorstep. It gave us all a chance to stop and stare, to pause and feel the connections with the land and with our surroundings: to admire the beautiful workmanship of a weatherbeaten casement window (a feature worthy of Venice), or wonder at a profusion of harts’ tongue ferns, thriving in a dark, damp corner.

Halfway round, someone pointed out a tree. I’d passed this huge ivy-clad shape many times, without giving it a second glance. But as we stopped and looked up, its bud-filled branches came into view, bowing gracefully against the blue sky. It turned out to be a black poplar, which tree lovers talk about in reverential tones, and John Constable immortalised in many of his landscapes.

DSCN2397These fast-growing trees can grow to majestic 100ft…this one was probably 70ft. They are becoming quite rare, party because of their quirky pollination habits, but were much-prized in the past: matches and clogs were made from this timber. We spotted fallen twigs nearby, with their strange crimson buds (sometimes known as devil’s fingers). This indicated that it was a male poplar (green female catkins ripen on separate trees). Without thinking I popped a twig in my pocket, only to discover later that it’s unlucky to pick up the fallen twig of this tree.

Well, I’m not superstitious but I now feel compelled to go back and take a closer look at this wooden giant and return the twig from whence it came. Don’t want to tempt fate now that spring has arrived!

A brilliant walk, SB! Can’t wait for the next one!

Text: Jenni Jepson; All images Mark Watson except *Jenni Jepson: Looking over the bridge at Falcon Meadow; in the alleyway; Bridge Street (en route to Bungay Tea Rooms; black poplar bud*

Happy Mondays through the Window

Happy Mondays through the window April 2013 low resNineteen degrees! That was the temperature on Monday (15th April) late afternoon in Bungay as I dropped Charlotte off at the Community Centre where she was co-cooking the April meal as part of Sustainable Bungay’s Happy Monday crew. The highest in a very low temperature year so far. T-shirts? Outside? For months I’ve only known T-shirts as the bottom layer of several (and that’s been in bed!).

was down for meeting and greeting people as they came in for the meal and had a couple of hours to spare, so I wandered round the back of the building and found the remnants of a garden there. Packed with tansy (I must make that old recipe, tansy pudding, one spring) and the odd fennel and lamb’s ear, and loads of red deadnettle,  it was the kind of place I love, a bit of a wasteground, a bit of a garden.


I moved some of the rubbish and cleaned up a few discarded plastic jugs and containers. They might come in handy sometime.

Then I looked up, and through a window I saw the kitchen crew in the midst of preparation (it’s quite an intense experience in that Happy Monday’s kitchen, making a 2-course, multi-dish meal for 50 people from scratch in two and three quarter hours).

The menu this month was: barley and beetroot risotto, black badger peas with sundried tomato and preserved lemons, grated carrot and mustard salad and stuffed portobello mushrooms with a nettle pesto. The dessert was a chocolate crunch base topped with soaked prunes, Greek yoghurt and garnished with a sweet violet. It was delicious! And all for a fiver!

Violet-adorned prunes

Through the window in the picture at the top you can see Margaret. Though she didn’t see me at first! Each month for Happy Monday, Margaret makes sure the tables are decked with flowers and greenery and always puts on a lovely show along with the help of one or two other people.


Yesterday she’d brought ivy, sweet violets (which also adorned the dessert), forsythia and daffodils to set the scene and we talked about everything being so late this year.

I told Margaret I’d planted some seeds from a cut flower I picked up from a roadside stall last September and they were the first to sprout of the ones I’d sown so far. The plant is a China aster called ‘Hulk’ (Callistephus chinensis ‘Hulk’) – I found that out by poring over the Chiltern Seeds 2012 catalogue from the beginning, looking at everything under Asteraceae). Luckily I only needed to go as far as ‘C’.

Margaret said she’d like to find some spare land, maybe part of an allotment that’s not being used, to grow flowers specially for Happy Mondays. Do contact us if you know of any. Meanwhile I’ve promised her to plant some of those ‘Hulks’.

“Do bees like them?” Margaret asked. “I’m trying to only sow bee-friendly plants.”

“Funny you should say that,” I replied. “I just found this picture of the Hulk on Flickr by someone called Viveka in Sweden. There’s both a bee and a hoverfly on the flowers. The picture below is of the original roadside stall bunch from last September, with the Hulk on the bottom right accompanied by dahlias, chrysanths and perennial sunflowers. The green ‘ray florets’ are actually leaves.


Images and text by Mark Watson and Josiah Meldrum: Happy Mondays through the Window, April 2013 (MW); Washing discarded plastic jugs for reuse (MW); Chocolate crunch with prunes, yoghurt and violets (JM); Violets, Forsythia and Ivy – Margaret’s flower display for April’s Happy Monday (MW); Roadside stall flowers from Suffolk, September 2012 (MW)

NB: All text and pics subject to Creative Commons with Attribution Non Commercial No Derivatives license

This (amended and expanded) post first appeared on Mark in Flowers on 16th April 2013

Wellbeing Walk – Mapping Bungay – Saturday 13 April 11am-1pm

Image91-300x225The Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group are sallying forth this Saturday to start our wellbeing mappping of Bungay – finding, recording and celebrating all the great places and green spaces in the town. Do come and join us (and bring a brolly in case of rain!)

We’ll meet at the Library at 11am, discuss the route and then go on a discovery stroll around the streets and down to Falcon Meadow. With luck we’ll have time for a cup of tea and discussion afterwards too.

The ACW group was launched thsi year at our January Green Drinks where we discussed a range of activities, walks and workshops around the theme of wellbeing. These range from the Koru movement class and discussion about the Gift Economy we held March and to our future talks on the Artist and the Community and Taking the Plunge in the River Waveney!

Everything we do is free and open to anyone.The Mapping Project will run all year. If you’d like to get involved with organising and documenting the map, do get in touch.

Contact: Charlotte Du Cann

For introduction to the group and projects discussed see here

Photo: Plants for Life walk, Outney Common, June 2012 (Mark Watson)

Book Now for Happy Monday – 15th April!

Happy Mondays with the Community Kitchen is always a celebration of the best local and seasonal ingredients: the room will be decorated and the welcome warm. But it will also offer opportunities for volunteers to build their kitchen confidence, learn about local suppliers and discover new recipes and ideas.

Our aim is to highlight what’s growing in and around Bungay in gardens and on farms, show how local, seasonal eating is not only healthy, enjoyable, good for the local economy and environmentally sound but also exciting and surprising.

In time we hope there will be a Happy Monday every week, but at the moment our aim is a monthly meal. If you’d like to get involved, perhaps supplying ingredients from your garden to the kitchen, cooking, suggesting recipes or helping meet and greet please do contact us.

When: March 18th, 6:45 for 7pm
Where: Bungay Community Centre, Upper Olland Street
Cost: £5 for 2 courses
Menu: Our April meal takes is inspired by the hard winter and late spring, turning the shortage of field or foraged foods we’ll be dipping into the store-cupboard, using crops grown sheltered from the weather and making use of spring plants in hedgerows and field edges to garnish our meal: Mushrooms stuffed with hazelnuts, a nettle pesto, barley and beetroot risotto, carrot and mustard salad and a warm salad of black badger peas.

Queen of the sun screening this Friday!


I hope you can join us for a screening of Queen of the sun: What are the bees telling us? Friday 12th April 7.30pm at Bungay Community centre.

£3 Entry,bring your own drinks if you would like.

QUEEN OF THE SUN: What Are the Bees Telling Us? is a profound, alternative look at the global bee crisis from Taggart Siegel, director of THE REAL DIRT ON FARMER JOHN. Taking us on a journey through the catastrophic disappearance of bees and the mysterious world of the beehive, this engaging and ultimately uplifting 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.