Browsing Posts tagged celebrations

A swarm… 02/06/12

…Of people.

And of bees!

Wednesday of last week saw us open our Plots to the world.  It was our contribution to the Sheffield Environment Weeks, and apart from a slight hiccup with the weather, it all went off swimmingly.

Unfortunately, I have no photos of the event for I was working like mad at the new pizza oven, and in a little over two hours, I managed to whack out over 25 pizzas!  Each one was individually topped by the customer, and apart from one slight miscalculation with the timing of a single pizza, everybody enjoyed them.  Of course, there were loads of people who said, “I want one in my garden!”

Hmm.  If you’re prepared for the back-breaking and foot-bashing work, then go ahead.

When we explained this to folks, it must be said the majority then said, “Oh! So you can’t just knock one up in a weekend then?”

Not as such.  Not unless you’ve got Alan Titchmarsh and Charlie Dimmock coming round with their gang.

Then last week we had a swarm!

This was the middle hive that I’ve kind of adopted.  Gary was the first to spot the exiting bees (…Again!..) who went high into a neighbouring tree in the woodland at the side of LEAF.  Regretfully, they were way too high to safely catch, and pretty soon, they headed off down in the direction of The Northern General Hospital just down the road.

When Charles came this Wednesday, with some of our volunteers (…I was unfortunately very busy, so couldn’t attend…) and he checked the hives over and did a ‘Reversal’ on the first one.  Next time I’m down there, I’ll get some proper shots and explain what this is all about.

Anyway, I’m afraid its way past my bedtime right now, so Dear Reader, I’ll have to leave it there.

More photos and funny tales for next time?

You bet.

One word: AWESOME

May I just say the BIGGEST, most HEARTFELT ‘Thank You!!!’ to everyone who helped make today sooooo special.

You were ALL completely, utterly BRILLIANT!

Now, I’m sure there are loads of photos of today -I’m sure, thanks to Sara, on our Twitter pages- but I only have a few from where I was, which was mostly doing the cooking.

And what fun I had!The new oven before firing up today.

Now, yesterday I mentioned that I thought all the cracks that had appeared in the top of the pizza oven dome would have contracted and disappeared, but I was wrong.

Yes, they’d shrunk somewhat, but there were still some pretty big ones still visible.

Sarah and I wasted no time this morning in patching them with left-over clay from yesterday, then I cleaned it all out and here you can see it before everything all kicked off.

I carefully checked the all important floor of the oven and found no cracked bricks, so the small fire we’d lit seemed to have done no damage.The fire is lit.

This shot to the left here is just after I’d lit it with kindling and rolled-up dry newspaper -in just the same way as I light a ‘normal’ fire on a Saturday.  You can also clearly see the still wet clay down towards the bottom on either side.  This didn’t last long.

The smoke cleared pretty quickly as it got hot and burned it all away, and after about an hour, it was ready to begin cooking on.

Unfortunately, due to a mix-up, there was a slight delay, but soon the pizzas were coming round the corner from the ‘prepping’ area at quite a lick.A pizza being cooked.

To the right here is one of the many (…we reckon about 35 were made today!..) pizzas just after I’d put it in.  You can also see that the wetness on either side had now disappeared.

The cooking technique for this oven is to get the coals and burning wood as hot as possible, and leave them over the central cooking area for as long as possible until the first pizza is ready to be cooked.  Then you must push all the hot embers out around the outer of the oven leaving the centre cooking area as flat and clear as possible.

If there is much of an appreciable time before the next pizza is ready to go in, I found that raking the embers back over the central area again helped preserve the heat on the all-important central area.

At this stage, because the oven was so hot -many times hotter than a normal, ‘boring’ oven, they were cooking in literally seconds.  As I put them in singly, you could see the cheese starting to bubble and the crust rising.  In fact, just putting this one in and getting my camera out, taking the shot then putting it away again, and this pizza was done!

We also noticed that like at SAGE Greenfingers, the oven was that hot, the actual dishes bent out of shape quite considerably.  If this making pizza lark is going to be a regular occurrence (…and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be…), then we really must invest in some proper cast-iron pizza pans like they use in Pizza Hut and all the big pizza chains.  Yes, they may well cost us a small fortune, and yes, pizzas will take slightly longer to cook -because of all the iron in the dish that has to heat up, but I’m sure they’ll be well worth the investment.

We also need a long-handled pizza peel -that’s the long, flat thing you put them in and take them out of the oven with.  The hairs on my left arm are quite singed with all the heat from having to get so close to the thing armed only with a small gardening spade!

Towards the end of the pizzas, the oven had cooled down a little too much, so before we cooked the last few, I stoked up the fire and was amazed at just how quickly it got hot again.Roaring flames and bent pizza dish!

Here you can see one of the last batch cooking, and you can clearly see the flames round the outside and just look at how the dish has bent out of shape.  I’ll bet you can’t do that in your oven at home!

So, about two hours and many pizzas later, we’d run out of dough, but that was no problem.  We just moved down to the fire area instead!

I quickly lit it, got it hot enough, and we started roasting potatoes in our customary Saturday manner.  After using the pizza oven and learning some of its foibles, merely lighting a ‘normal’ fire felt easy!

And the potatoes were excellent.

Now, I couldn’t finish today without thanking a few people.

I’m sure I’ll miss loads of you out, so please excuse me if I do, but here are just some of the people who made today probably the best ever LEAF Day I have been to or taken part in.

Big thanks to: Pam and Sara for the pizza dough.  ALL the artists for your beautiful work shown all over the site.  ALL our fellow plot holders who so kindly opened up their plots to the artists so they could show their work and to the general public so they could see a little of what goes on beyond our railings.  To the band who turned up and played so excellently to much applause inside our Geo Dome towards the end of the evening.  To all the folks at Grow Sheffield for the bike-powered smoothie maker.  To Madame Zucchini for her excellent vegetable cabaret.  To PXI Nick for the loan of the fruit press.  To the architecture students of Sheffield University for the design and building of our new compost toilets.  To Cape UK for the help with the Geo Dome.  To Ruthie Ford for her brilliant organizational skills.

And lastly, and probably most importantly to Diane for the immense amount of work she has put in over the last few weeks.

You really have been utterly amazing.

Thank You.

Dig for Victory!

To print out a copy of this poster to put up somewhere visible, simply click on it once, then press ‘print’ from your browser.

Verdict: Success! 19/05/11

All the work, all the hours, all the arguments, all the planting, watering and weeding, all the volunteers, all the phone calls, all the cajoling, pleading and coercing, all the planning, all everything…

It all worked!

Last year, as I remember, we’d had a great dry spell for seemingly weeks beforehand, then on the day, it was cold and rainy.  Then nobody showed up.

Not yesterday!

Difficult to believe, but everything just worked last night.

Anyway, I’m due over there in just a few minutes, but before I finish, I must just say a HUGE “Thankyou!!!” to everybody for all their massive efforts and work for making it such a special evening.

There’ll be much more tonight -photos and all.

Awesome.

(…Yes, I know I said I’m trying to avoid that word, but last night really was…)

The Environment Week Bash Poster.

Simply click once on the image above and select ‘Print’ to your printer, and you have your own poster to put up to display.

We hope to see you then!

Tonight was our AGM.

An evening of celebration of everything and everyone that is LEAF.Vegetable fun!

And who better to help us celebrate than Madame Zucchini and her amazing vegetable show?

After we’d finished all the ‘serious business’ (…details in a bit…), she came on stage and showed us the fun you can have with vegetables, including her rendition of the film ‘Jaws’, complete with the main characters, and an evil looking shark with big teeth made from an aubergine.

She then handed out paper bags, each filled with an assortment of vegetable ‘chunks’ and matchisticks, and told us we should all make our own vegetable ‘creations’ and there would be a prize at the end.

And what fun we had!Proud Mr Potato Head.

Here’s Elaine showing off her ‘Mr Potato Head’.

Of course, the children were in heaven.  Getting to ‘play with their food’ without mum telling them off!

This shot is of one of our youngest ‘Plotters’, Lisa, proudly showing off her creation.Proud Lisa!

All in all, everyone had fun with Kyle eventually being declared the winner.

He won a prize of a limited edition hand-made ‘Madame Zucchini’ greetings card.

As it was our AGM, we had some serious ‘official business’ to get through.  Recently our chairman, Mick informed us that he wished to stand down, so the post was open.

Initially, both Julie -a long-standing committee member and I had put our names forward, and it would have gone to a vote of the LEAF members, but in the end, Julie decided to withdraw her application.

The rest of the committee were standing again, so after a ‘block vote’ of all LEAF members, we were all duly elected to the committee, with myself as chairman.

Madness?  Possibly.

But it will be fun…

 

 

Greening the Cross Community Celebration 27th NovemberI know it clashes with LEAF regular Saturday sessions but we are hoping some of you will pop along with a stall, there will also be stalls from Abundance NE, Sheffield Wildlife Trust, and others ….. hopefully a fun couple of hours.

Halloween Bash!

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Come on down to LEAF Saturday the 30th for Halloween and celebrate with us!

As usual, we’ll be there from 10.00am for a normal Saturday Session, but in the afternoon, the fun starts for the kids, culminating with food to share and the official unveiling of ‘Plot Power’ as we electrify our allotments with power an light supplied by pedal power.

You can download a poster to put up here.

See you then!


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