Come and see the Bees!

Once again Bungay Community Bees’ colonies have survived rather a strange weather year. Long spells of dry weather following the late, sudden burst of flower energy has led to low honey stores in good sized colonies. We are currently needing to feed them up with sugar syrup to facilitate their winter hoarding. We now have three community hives in and around Bungay and another three at the College Farm Observation Apiary (one indoors made of glass).

This was our first year at College Farm, offering ‘bee and nature ramble’ visits to schools, in conjunction with Anglia Regional Co-operative Society. Children discovered how amazing honey bees are, the importance of pollination and risks to pollinators followed by seeing honeybees in the glass hive. Some also saw a nest of very pretty Tree Bumblebees, recently arrived in East Anglia from Europe. We catered to different ages and abilities but everyone enjoyed themselves (especially us) and we have had some great feedback. I was struck by the enthusiasm (and sometimes tricky questions) generated. Best of all, after settling in over the winter, everything at the apiary should be even better next year! The next challenge for us will be delivering the same experience to the co-operative managers later in a few weeks.

There is a visit to College Farm Apiary (some pictures here) planned for 22nd September at 2:30.  If you would like to join us please contact Elinor: 07791 495 012 or by email Alternatively you could join the group cycling to Aldeby from Bungay as part of Car Free Day – they’ll be leaving the Buttercross at 1:30pm (more about Car Free Day events here)

Transition Free Press now out and about in Bungay!

TFP_Issue3_Autumn2013_FrontPageHot off the press, the national grassoots newspaper, Transition Free Press, is now hitting the streets in 70+ towns and neighbourhoods across the UK. One of these is Bungay!

Read all the latest news and views, including a report on Sustainable Bungay’s premier community event, Happy Mondays and  featuring our very own Margaret Sheppard on the front cover!

Editor, Charlotte Du Cann writes: “Our Autumn issue runs wild, forages for books and cherry plums, gets smart about community energy and heritage seeds, stands with indigenous peoples, speaks with George Monbiot, rides the lemon bus in Sussex and a canal boat in the Midlands, rides a cargo bike and sits down at a table with fifty people in East Anglia, BUdLAAUCQAErYYqjumps into a lochan in Scotland, honours elders in Liverpool, makes cider in the North country, makes connections everywhere and a hundred other ingenious, friendly moves in the direction of a low carbon future.”

You can find your copy of Transistion Free Press at all our events, alongside our own local newsletter, Sustainable Bungay News. If you are riding the Free Bus on Sunday’s Car Free Day keep a lookout for our newspaper sales crew on board!

On-line version published here

Apple Harvest Day – Emmaus Orchard, Saturday 28th September, 11am-4pm

IMG_3092Apple Days are held all over the UK by community groups during early October. As well as a celebration of our favourite national fruit, they are a great way to share the harvest, distribution and pressing for juice and cider. At Sustainable Bungay foraged and fallen fruit are a key attaction at our Grow and Give events and Abundance tables. and Community Orchards was a popular subject at last year’s Green Drinks. This year we have received a lovely invitation to pick and share fruit in Ditchingham from Ronagh Williams and Emmaus Norwich:

To celebrate our second birthday and make new friends Emmaus Norwich are holding a special bring and share birthday picnic. There will be picnicking, apple picking and harvest sharing, all washed down by birthday tea and cake. Bring a plate of food to share and a basket and keep your fingers crossed for good weather! (Do please bear in mind we have a no alcohol on site policy).

Emmaus Norwich is a charity and business with a social purpose. We aim to offer a stable home, community and work for people experiencing homelessness. Our main activities are recycling and reusing all sorts of unwanted household items which we sell in our shop as well as online and at local auctions and street markets.

We aim to rebuild lives and enable our residents, known as Companions, to achieve their aspirations in a supportive environment without the pressure of a fixed timespan. Our values are based on solidarity, helping others in our area as well as further afield around the UK and as part of a global network of over 300 local community led groups providing access to education and healthcare, clean water, freedom of movement and micro finance.

At present we are small but have plans to grow over the coming months and are also in the process of preparing for an ambitious refurbishment of the former Victorian convent buildings here on our All Hallows site.

 Apple harvest day, Saturday 28 September, 11am – 4pm at Emmaus House, Belsey Bridge Rd, next to All Hallows convent, Ditchingham, Norfolk NR35 2DT.RSVP by 23 Sept on or call us on 01986 895444.

 Image: harvest to share from Sustainable Bungay Apple Day (with Suffolk Wildlife Trust), Castle Meadow, 2010

STIR Magazine Article on Sustainable Bungay – from July 2013

IssueNo2cover-723x1024STIR magazine is a “reader-supported” printed publication which appears quarterly in the UK and beyond. STIR looks at “the inspiring and practical co-operative, commons-based and community-led alternatives to the crises in our food, finance systems and other important aspects of our lives.” In the July issue, Mark Watson wrote an article on Sustainable Bungay for STIR’s regular Transition column. The article includes a brief history with mentions of many of our projects. He republishes the column here in its entirety. The images did not appear in the printed article. The original title was Small is Beautiful in Sustainable Bungay. For subscriptions to STIR magazine see here. The Autumn 2013 issue is out at the beginning of October.

Small is Beautiful in Sustainable Bungay – July 2013

November 2007 A young zoologist called Kate stands up after a climate change conference at the Emmanuel Church in the small market town of Bungay in the Waveney Valley, Suffolk, on the edge of the Norfolk Broads.

Climate scientists from the University of East Anglia, a Met Office spokesman and local MPs have presented a sobering scenario of the effects of climate change over the coming century in our flat, agricultural waterland– from flooding and land salination to food insecurity and the possibility of malaria becoming endemic.

“So that’s the bad news from the experts,” says Kate. “If anyone’s interested in discussing what we might be able to do about it, here in Bungay, let’s meet in the lobby afterwards.”

Four people join Kate and Sustainable Bungay is born.

Sustainable Bungay has grown since then, although we remain a small, diverse group, making mostly small, local, community moves through a range of projects and events open to anyone. This is not to say that Sustainable Bungay has no influence, but we are a grassroots rather than a mainstream organisation, and often invisible.

Behind everything we do, whether it’s a Give and Take Day, themed Green Drinks, or community bike ride, is an awareness of increasing climate and financial instability and the depletion of fossil fuel resources. How do we relocalise in terms of food, energy, the economy?

In 2008 we became a Transition initiative, now a network of over a thousand groups in the UK and worldwide, aiming to decrease dependence on fossil fuels, relocalise economies and build resilience starting at a community level.

Image1707At Happy Mondays at the Community Kitchen each month, 50 people sit down to eat a meal together at one table in the Community Centre. The meals are cooked from scratch in three hours using seasonal and mostly local ingredients, including foraged food and produce from peoples’ gardens and allotments. The table is always decorated with fresh flowers and each meal has a theme with a short talk on subjects ranging from backyard hens to Mexican conviviality to food security. The crew contains experienced cooks, growers and gardeners all pooling their knowledge and experience. We’re all getting used to working and eating together again, using less energy and fostering independence from the industrialised food system.

Bungay Community Bees is a response to the worldwide decline in honeybees and the first ‘community-supported apiculture’ project in the country. The group has five hives in orchards and gardens around the town, beekeeping ‘in a bee-centred rather than beekeeper-centred way’. BCB has planted wildflower meadows, held two Bungay Beehive celebrations and has now teamed up with the Anglia Regional Co-operative Society and a nearby farm to arrange school visits to a purpose-built apiary. Every primary school in the area has signed up to visit the bees.

Hot Beds and Leafy GreensWe also work with other groups. In 2011, when the library was threatened with closure due to the government cuts, Sustainable Bungay got behind the Save Bungay Library campaign and helped organise poetry events, readings and awareness-raising days. Josiah gathered hundreds of email addresses from people supporting the campaign and we got communicating. The library was saved.

This was great, not least for Sustainable Bungay. Not only are many of our meetings held at the library, we had also built a community garden in the courtyard in 2010, a place anyone can go to read, relax or learn about plants. The central bed has a different theme each year with talks and workshops. In 2011 this was bees, last year plant medicine. This year the bed is edible!

Apart from the bee group, Sustainable Bungay has no external funding. All income is derived from Happy Mondays and donations at events. So after five years as an unincorporated voluntary organisation with a bank account, a constitution, a chairman, secretary and treasurer, we are now looking to become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

Why does a group of fifteen to twenty people invest such time and energy organising projects and events like Happy Mondays, plant swaps, Green Drinks and wellbeing walks, as well as maintaining a website and producing a quarterly newsletter and diary? Why does the core group have an open planning meeting every month anyone can attend? Why do we do these things?

Image3313For over fifty years in the West most of us have had the means to live an individualisticall-about-me lifestyle due to abundant cheap oil and ready credit. If we didn’t feel like having much to do with other people, we could literally afford not to. This is changing.

Sustainable Bungay and hundreds of other similar initiatives worldwide, through consistent actions within our communities, are relearning the art of working together with other people, sharing skills and helping to create a new culture, a culture that’s more about ‘us’. This ‘us’ includes people, bees, plants and the rest of the living world. We start local, paying attention in small ways to where we are, together. We do it for a different kind of future.

May 2013 SB’s new subgroup and “social enterprise”, NR35, has just laid a dead hedge in Richard’s wildlife garden.

Founder Nick Watts, said, “We are starting to think about how to use our skills, knowledge and labour to generate an income by sustainably managing and harvesting the [abundant] resources around our rural market town. NR35 is the local postcode and also stands for Natural Resources.”

Nobody had prior experience of dead-hedging except Paul, who is a tree surgeon. He taught us how to drive the stakes into the ground, build the hedge up with recently pruned and dead branches, and finally make it secure by jumping on it. These dead hedges become havens for wildlife including birds and insects who make their homes in them.

It took five of us under two hours to complete. Richard  was delighted, as was his next door neighbour. Wildlife-friendly, people-friendly, climate-friendly, the hedge seems the perfect embodiment of Sustainable Bungay. A small, beautiful, sometimes invisible thing that benefits life within and beyond its boundaries.

Images: STIR Magazine Cover Summer 2013; Happy Mondays Kitchen Crew Mexican Fiesta September 2012; Hot Beds and Leafy Greens Library Garden Workshop Poster, March 2013; Arts, Culture and Wellbeing walk, April 2013

Mark Watson is the current chairman of Sustainable Bungay, a transition initiative in northeast Suffolk: He is also the distribution manager for the quarterly Transition Free Press national newspaper  He blogs and tweets as markinflowers,

Car Free Day | 22nd September

What would Bungay look like with fewer cars on the roads? On September 22nd every year communities across Europe take back their streets for a day. This year Bungay is joining in and we’re asking everyone to leave their cars at home for the day. There are some great events planned and local traders are offering special discounts and services – see below.

Like almost every other town, city and village in the UK, Bungay was not designed to accommodate cars – instead the town evolved around the needs of pedestrians, who shared the roads and paths with draught animals and those on horseback. Over the last 100 years the car has come to dominate the roads; walkers have been pushed onto pavements and cyclists squeezed between the two.

Motor vehicles have brought huge benefits, but there are obvious disadvantages. Aside from segregated and potentially dangerous roads, we suffer air and noise pollution, damage to historic buildings, the loss of open spaces to road building, and health problems linked to a lack of exercise. As the arguments about Bungay’s new one-way system rumble on there’s one simple action we could take to reduce pressure on the town: leave our cars at home.

Car Free Day, which emerged from separate campaigns in big cities like New York, Berlin and Amsterdam, can trace its roots back to the 1950s. The current annual event is 15 years old and aims to encourage people, for just one day, to reduce their car use. In a rural area like ours where public transport is often limited, cutting back on car use can seem difficult, but Department for Transport research shows that a fifth of all journeys are less than a mile and two thirds are less than five miles. We’re asking people to think about those trips on the 22nd – is walking an option, could you hop on your bike, a bus or even car-share?

In many towns and cities Car Free Days have eventually led to huge changes in the way transport is organised – in Germany and the Netherlands many towns now have car free centres and improved public transport, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure. Here in Bungay our immediate aims are more modest, but we have persuaded Anglian Bus to run 2 services between Beccles and Diss where currently there is no Sunday service. If this one day trial proves a success we hope Anglian Bus will consider making a permanent timetable change. So if you’re not a cyclist or a walker why not take a trip to one of the other beautiful towns in our valley – or invite your friends to Bungay.

Car Free Day Events
(All activities start at the Buttercross.)

9am: Town Mayor Judy Cloake and Town Reeve Richard Cundy will see the Godric Cycling Club off on their regular club run (which is for faster riders). The Club are always keen to see new faces, so do feel free to join them.

10am: As part of Sustainable Bungay’s on-going series of walks around the town there will be a Wellbeing Walk across the Outney Common. Join Tony and others for a gentle walk and conversation.

10:30: Margaret Sheppard will lead a group through the lanes for coffee in Beccles. A more leisurely cycle ride than the Godric Cycling club run!

1:30pm: Josiah Meldrum will lead a group along the back roads to join the Bungay Community Beekeepers for their open day at Aldeby. Those who’ve cycled to Beccles with the 10:30am group are welcome to join at Aldeby.

2:30: Guided walk around Bungay led by local historian Chris Reeve for The Waveney and Blyth Arts. Booking essential: phone Chris Reeve on 01986 893155 or email Waveney and Blyth Arts members £3/£4 non-members (children under 12 free); Tea and cakes at St Mary’s church afterwards (optional) £2.50.

Car Free Day Specials

Buttercross Cafe – a free drink for anyone using the cafe on Sunday 22nd

Earsham Street Cafe – 10% discount for Car Free Day

Tutti Frutti – Tim will be opening his green grocers shop on Sunday morning.

Anglian Bus – laying on a special Sunday bus service between Beccles and Diss. For information about the special Beccles to Diss bus service see the Anglian Bus website: or click here to view it: Car Free Day Bus Timetable

For more information about any of these activities please email