Raw Food Demos at Giddens & Thompson

IMG_6286 This Saturday (11th October) SB’s Mark Watson will run three raw food demonstrations at local Bungay greengrocers, Giddens and Thompson, as part of this year’s Waveney Valley Food & Drink Festival. And it won’t just be lettuce salad!

Simon Thompson says, “Mark will be making delicious dishes that are not only very good for you, but taste amazing. You’ll be able to sample all the dishes being made and take away recipe sheets (as well as purchase any ingredients you might need, of course).”

???????????????????????????????Tickets cost £5 and booking is essential as places are filling up fast with a maximum of ten people at each demo.

So if the idea of raw food piques your taste buds, call Simon on 01986 897944 and let him know which demonstration you’d like to attend: 10am, 12noon or 2pm. Each session will last about 30 minutes. Look forward to seeing you there!

Note: All of the raw food dishes I’ll be preparing on Saturday have been previously tried, tested and thoroughly enjoyed at Sustainable Bungay’s monthly Happy Mondays at the Community Kitchen meals.

Images: Raw Food evening with the Low Carbon Cookbook group at The Nectar, Norwich, August 2011; beetroot, carrot, parsley, 2011. By Mark Watson under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs license

THE DYE GARDEN True Blue – a talk about the culture and craft of woad with Mary Sprake – Sunday 20th April, 11am

385px-38_Isatis_tinctoria_LOur first talk in the Dye Garden season will be about the ancient dye plant woad, once the principle source of blue in Europe, before indigo arrived from the East, and artificial dyes were discovered in the 19th century.

On 20th April Mary Sprake of Black Dog Arts will talk about this useful and unusual member of the brassica family and show how the blue dye can be extracted from its leaves and used to dye yarn and cloth. Woad was cultivated extensively in East Anglia (the famous ‘Lavenham blew’ from the medieval wool centre at Lavenham was made from these plants), and woad is still being grown commercially in Norfolk.

Many artists, textile designers and crafts people use woad, as it creates extraordinary hues of blue, as well as being entirely natural and sustainable.

db_2d-scan05_71What is The Dye Garden?

The Dye Garden is part of the permaculture-inspired Library Community Garden, created by Sustainable Bungay in 2009. The showcase central bed changes each year and during the growing year the Garden hosts plant and produce exchanges, events and workshops around its chosen theme. This year we are growing dye and textile plants, and there are already several in situ – including of course a woad plant now getting ready to flower!

Our 2014 programme will be looking at several key plants from different angles: from the perspective of artists, makers, curators and growers. Each event will provide a practical and imaginative insight into our relationships with fabrics and colour through time.

During the growing year of 2014, we’ll be journeying into the myths and culture behind certain plants: visiting the flax and hemp fields of the Waveney Valley; the silk weavers and madder sellers of Norwich; discovering archaic woad, African indigo and how to make paints from local wild flora.

Arts, culture and wellbeing

1a-woadspoolThe Dye Garden is being curated by Sustainable Bungay’s Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group. The project aims to celebrate the  beauty of ordinary things and our place within the fabric of life, within a frame of ecological and social change.

Plants can act as a wonderful bridge between people, a springboard to our imaginations, and open a door to other places and times, knowledge and wonder. So as well as a skill and knowledge-share about plants and textiles, the garden and its events are also an exploration of creativity and wellbeing within the community.

Everyone is invited!

True Blue – a talk about the culture and craft of woad will take place at Bungay Community Library on 20th April at 11am. Free entry (donations welcome).

Images: botanical drawing of woad plant; woad balls being stacked in Norfolk; woad-dyed wool (from www.woad.org.uk/)

Wellbeing Walks – Visiting the Hedgerows – 12th October, 11am-1pm


Mapping Bungay is a year-long project based on a series of walks in and around the town, organised by Sustainable Bungay’s Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group. You can find out more about the project here. There is also an essay, written by Charlotte (Rewilding the Future) in the recent EarthLines magazine, you might like to check out for an overview. Meanwhile here are Mark and Tony on our summer walks.

Throughout the summer the Arts, Culture and Wellbeing group continued their monthly walks in and around Bungay, meeting up at the library, in a pub or on the Common, to decide on a route before heading off.

We’ve visited (and swum in) the river Waveney, explored the town’s play areas, relaxed on a hot July afternoon under the lime trees in bloom and walked over Bath Hills to Earsham on a Saturday in August, where we stopped at the Queen’s Head for a drink and an animated discussion about the industrial food system!

In the heat of August we helped locate our Annual Picnic by the site of Baldry’s Mill: Sally Harrington reports: “This was a first visit to this lovely part of Bungay common for quite a few people. There was a good turnout, and a lot of excellent food.We were lucky with the weather, though only one person was brave enough to venture in for swimming  – aside from the young men leaping  from a surprisingly high point of an alder tree!” On Car Free Day Tony Dawes led a group down the tracks towards the old railway station and encountered a dilemma with a horse (see full report below)!

Normanston_Allotments_Aug_056Part of the beauty of these walks is the focus of attention to place and time, taking notice of the season, for example, and how it feels to be in the areas visited. Our individual impressions are then talked about amongst everyone who takes part. These things are simple, but they do contribute to a sense of well-being and feeling at home. It’s making a space for them that matters.

Our next walk is a Visit to the Hedgerows in and around Bungay. We will be looking at the trees in their autumn glory, foraging for hips and haws and delving into the lore and history of these roadside ecosystems. Led by Richard (Suffolk Wildlife Trust) Vinton, alongside Mark (Plants for Life) Watson and Charlotte (52 Flowers That Shook My World) Du Cann this will be a treat for anyone who loves rambling and wants to know more about plants in one of England’s most valuable (and often threatened) sancturies for wild creatures, insects and flowers.

In the winter we’ll be making a map of the walks we’ve done this year. Everyone and anyone is welcome to these events! (Mark Watson)

A Wellbeing Walk for Car Free Day or Four Walkers and a Horse (and Rider)

578520_602051733181071_2097786065_nBreakfast was taken (with thanks for the free drink to the Buttercross Tearooms), the route was chosen, the walkers were ready and then the horse and rider appeared. A horse, coming for a walk on Car Free Day? What a splendid idea. One small problem – part of the route involved Outney Meadow and horses are not allowed. Bungay is almost unique in Britain in that it still has a Town Reeve. A person with not inconsiderable power and influence. One phone call later and we had permission to take a horse onto the meadow! The plan was to walk down Outney Road and over the footbridge onto the meadow by the golf club. The A143 is all that remains of the old railway line in Bungay and the station would have been just about underneath the footbridge. We were to meet horse and rider by the golf club but had not taken the cattle grid into account, which the horse could not cross. Plan B was then to ride across the bridge following the walkers only the horse had other ideas and refused to cross. Oh well, nice try.

The short walk through the meadow to the main entrance was accomplished without incident as was crossing the Old Railway Road, up Broad Street and into Nethergate Street. It was half way up that we encountered Richard Cundy, our powerful Town Reeve. He imparted the intelligence that Horse and Rider were to be found heading towards Falcon Meadow. Excellent, for that was where we were going.

We did indeed catch up with them on Falcon Meadow and walked to the Staithe by way of the weir. Fortunately, this time Horse was happy to cross the bridge with Sally leading the way. With the assistance of signage by the Riverside Centre, we could acquaint ourselves with another form of  Car Free transport, namely the sailing boats which once plied their trade from Lowestoft. We bade Horse and Rider farewell at the beginning of Staithe Road as we were to take a diversion around the island.

All that was left was Trinity Street then Earsham Street and into the Earsham Street Café for 10% off tea and toast (thanks Gemma and Mike). So that was it, a good walk on a Car Free Day with reminders of transport from yesteryear. Wellbeing at its best. (Tony Dawes)

Wellbeing Walk – Visiting Hedgrows, 12th October, 11am-1pm. Meet at Castle Meadow outside the marquee.

Images: en route to Earsham (CDC); Sustainable Bungay Annual Picnic (Lesley Hartley); horse, rider and walker, Car Free Day (Josian Meldrum)

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: http://www.sustainablebungay.com/. He is also the distribution manager for the quarterly Transition Free Press national newspaper http://transitionfreepress.org/  He blogs and tweets as markinflowers, http://markinflowers.wordpress.com/

Mapping Bungay Wellbeing Walk – Sunday 14th 11am-1pm

Give&Grow and Well-Being Walk May 2013 17 Sitting on the Bench Just to let you know that this month’s wellbeing walk will be hosted by Tony Dawes of the NR35 action group.

As well as following our usual formula of meeting up and deciding where everyone would like to go, our circular route will include one or two Bungay playgrounds (guided by Tony). NR35 are looking at some of these grassy (and sometimes neglected) areas. in the light of wellbeing and reconnection with nature, and so we thought this would be a great to team up and do a reccy.

The walk will start outside Jesters Cafe by Castle Meadow (11am-1pm). You are also invited join the following Bees and Teas session at the Community Library Garden, organised by Lesley of The Edible Garden and Bungay Community Bees (2-4pm).

See you there!

About the Arts, Cutlure and Wellbeing group

The ACW group was launched this year (2012) 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. Our wellbeing mappping of Bungay project will run all year, starting with a series of monthly walks, finding, recording and celebrating all the great places and green spaces in the town (see calendar for meeting places and times).

If you’d like to get involved with organising and documenting the map, do get in touch.

Contact: Charlotte Du Cann theseakaleproject@hotmail.co.uk

For introduction to the group and projects discussed see here

Report of our first walk (April) including Falcon Meadow and Bridge Street here

Report of our second walk (May) beginning at the Give and Grow and heading down Earsham Street here

Report of our third walk around Bungay Common (coming soon!)

Edible Plant Event Sunday 9th June 3pm


This Sunday 9th June Build Your Own Vegetable Growing Container at Bungay Library at 3pm.

Plus planting ideas for vegatable pots and containers and friendly gardening chat !

Booking essential please email lesleyhartley16@gmail.com

A free Edible Plant workshop with donations kindly requested

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

Spring Tonic Walk April 2009

One of the main things about getting involved in a Transition Initiative for me was the realisation that I might actually be able to share some of what I know with others who might be interested. In the meetings of the Norwich Heart and Soul, Arts, Culture and Well-Being group I’d been attending, for example, I was keenly aware of sitting in a room with all sorts of different people, every one of us with something of value we could do or share.

I’d been working with plants, especially wild and medicinal ones, for many years and in many places. So I organised a Reconnection with Nature walk with Charlotte in coastal Suffolk where we live and invited fellow Transitioners from Transition Norwich and Sustainable Bungay, where we’ve been most active, to spend the day with us getting to know some of the neighbourhood plants. The main thrust of the day was to inspire others to get in touch with the plants and trees growing where they live.

We based the day on three Transition plants, Nettle, Cleavers and Dandelion – traditional herbs used to spring clean the system and help the body “transit” from winter into Spring. The walk itself was an introduction to many food and hedgerow medicines such as burdock, hawthorn, rosehip, ground ivy, damson and garlic mustard, and a guide to the main native trees. The day also featured a slide show and a delicious shared lunch, including Nettle Soup and a Cleavers Plus Tea.

Setting off down the lane. There were young alexanders growing in profusion. This is when they can be used as a pot vegetable. To be honest I find them a bit, well not that tasty. But they are edible and maybe there are better ways to cook them than I have tried so far. When the flowers come out in early summer the smell is lovely, like honey.

Remember to be sure of correctly identifying any plant before you eat it. Going out with someone who knows the plants is always the best bet. Here I am showing fellow transitioners Butcher’s Broom, a native and prickly plant in the lily family, aka knee holm.

Eighteen people took part in a lively and enjoyable event. Karen told us the next week that she had spent the rest of the weekend totally immersed in getting to know the wild plants in her neighbourhood, seeing cleavers everywhere and tasting all sorts of plants she never knew were edible before.

by Mark Watson, originally posted on This Low Carbon Life, 2009

Photos: Tincture and Book Table by Josiah Meldrum; Discovering Butcher’s Broom by Helen Simpson Slapp; Signature Oak by Karen Alexander