Cardiff Friends of the Earth Newsletter - Summer 2000

Composting for Cardiff

At the April Cardiff Friends of the Earth meeting David Moore of CSV Steaming Heap came to tell us about the wonders of making compost.

Every year each home in Wales produces about one tonne of rubbish. About a third of this is organic: grass cuttings; fruit and vegetable peelings; garden clippings; cardboard; tea bags; etc. Steaming Heap are a community composting project that aim to encourage people to convert this waste into useful garden compost instead of letting fester in a landfill site, producing the climate change gas methane.

Composting saves the producer money by replacing commercial compost and peat, it also saves dwindling peat bogs at the same time. It has other environmental benefits, less waste and is a useful aid to growing your own vegetables. It improves soil drainage, adds nutrients and humus, generally creating a healthy, productive soil.

Steaming Heap offer a comprehensive help service to help newcomers turn composting into an art. All you need is a site to cultivate your compost, the raw ingredients, and the inclination to use your waste in a productive way.

Strategy for a better tomorrow

Friends of the Earth England Wales and Northern Ireland has just finished a review of its strategy process to determine what kind of world the organisation wants to see in the next 25 years. Cardiff Friends of the Earth members went along to meet other local group members from around the country and to give our perspective on how we can deal with global issues.

Cardiff Friends of the Earth's Coordinator, Louise Weinzweg, said "I enjoyed the day a great deal. I was able to meet members from other local groups who are tackling similar issues, for example high levels of traffic, and share our experiences. I was most impressed that I was able to feed into Friends of the Earth's organisational plans on tackling some of the big issues. I found it very empowering."

As a result of this consultation day Friends of the Earth have developed a Strategic Overview which draws on the ideas and models presented in Friends of the Earth's publication Tomorrow's World. Friends of the Earth has also developed a political strategy to outline the political opportunities which might arise as a result of our campaigning, a citizen power strategy to empower society for greater involvement in the decision-making, and an organisational corporate strategy to combat large transnational corporations.

What does this all mean in practice? Friends of the Earth can now continue to achieve successes like the GM Free Wales Campaign. It also means that Friends of the Earth has a clearer picture of where it wants to go in the new millennium, and how its membership will contribute to this.

Is there a future for allotments?

Cardiff Friends of the Earth member, Frank Beal, writes on the history and future of his beloved allotments.

I took over my present allotment plot at Allensbank Road in 1976 when I first retired. They are now called leisure gardens, at least locally. Some people may think that's a misnomer as they involve a lot of hard work at times.

The original Allotment Act was passed in 1887, but it wasn't until the First World War that they came to predominance. I was just six when my father, then living in north London, started digging for victory. At that time there were over a million allotment holders. I fear the situation is very different today. I believe there's a desperate need for new enthusiasts because there are powerful reasons for keeping them going.

As I understand it, the allotment lands were given to the people, with the local authority acting as agent, 'in perpetuity', which means forever. I suspect that developers are itching to obtain the legal ownership of these lands owing to the need for more houses and other developments. A lot of people probably think that new homes are more important than allowing a handful of gardeners to grow vegetables on such valuable land and not paying an economic rent for it.

Few young people seem interested in growing their own crops when there is food in abundance in the supermarkets. So what, you may say. Well I think there's a lot more to it than merely growing vegetables. For one thing, we also grow flowers, soft fruits, and fruit trees. Many of us have greenhouses. We get a great deal of satisfaction when things go well, and we don't give up easily when things go wrong. We're a friendly lot and often help each other in small ways.

There is also the matter of price. We can produce good healthy crops at a fraction of the cost of buying from shops and we know they're fresh. Working on an allotment is good exercise in the fresh air. I admit that traffic isn't far away and a lot of us do use cars to carry stuff to and from the site.

I'll end by saying that I am 95 percent organic and 100 percent in favour of a sustainable future. Long live leisure gardens.