We recently had a great talk at a Community Market Garden meeting from the Chew Magna Community Farm Group. Ped, who runs the farm, was so inspiring and encouraging to us. We were really shocked and saddened to read a post he wrote later in their newsletter about the casual (and not so casual) racism he has endured throughout his life in the UK. That set us thinking about how we can reach out to a more diverse community and how we can become a more inclusive and welcoming group. We are going to be discussing this at our monthly meeting on Thursday 20 August 7.30pm, email firstname.lastname@example.org for zoom details if you have not received them. Please do join us. Here are some thoughts and some reading matter from Sarah
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Questions and Answers:
Lots of people have been contacting us with questions about the Moss and the work that is going on there, particularly relating to the very large volumes of peat being removed from the site. We contacted the ecologist overseeing the restoration and here are his answers:
Fantastic news today that the owners of Lindow Moss have agreed with Bowdon Homes the sale of the land for 14 houses. This secures the future of Lindow Moss as a nature reserve. John Handley from our Lindow Moss group says: “This is very good news for Lindow Moss. The Moss is our cultural heritage and we think that it is really important that it is restored for everyone.” We are celebrating World Bog Day on Sunday 26th July; pick up a map from us at the Rotherwood Road entrance by the White House at 2pm and make your own way round the Moss and explore some of the many special places on the Moss. It’s not a guided walk, walk at your own risk, it’s very muddy so wear boots, keep in your family groups, maintain social distancing and consider wearing a face covering.
Our Lindow Moss Restoration Group has been working for years to raise awareness of the importance of the restoration of the Moss so it can become a vital carbon sink to battle climate change and a place of biodiversity; and a beautiful place for us to walk and cycle. We now believe that the pre-restoration work is genuinely underway, as cut peat is cleared from the Moss to enable a topographical survey to be undertaken which will allow the detailed restoration plans to be agreed. We want the community to be fully informed by both the owners and Cheshire East Council as to what is going on, and we want local people to be able to contribute to the restoration plans so it becomes a place ultimately that belongs to all of us…for ever….and is the restored Moss that we want to see.
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Many thanks to Tatton MP Esther McVey who asked a question in the House of Commons this week about the importance of peat bogs for climate change mitigation, biodiversity and health and well being. https://www.theyworkforyou.com/wrans/?id=2020-07-06.69533.h&s=speaker%3A24882#g69533.q0
She also raised the vital question of banning peat sales which must be an essential part of any bog restoration programme.
Thank you to Fulshaw WI Climate Ambassadors for raising this vital topic at a recent Climate Change Coalition discussion with Esther.
We have been writing to Cheshire East Council and Councillors for years about Lindow Moss. We have recently been feeling completely devastated that it might very easily (and very soon) turn into a landfill site and we were ready to kickstart a campaign to raise awareness (if not merry hell) about the threat that would pose to this place we all love so much. Today, we discovered (only because we were told there was work going on on the Moss) that Croghan Peat have started restoration…and CEC apparently were aware of this! We are pretty certain (but want to hear confirmed) that this overturns that dreadful planning consent of 2003 that allowed “landfill with inert waste and return to agriculture”. We are going to think about what’s next…could it be that we turn Lindow Moss into the nature reserve it should have always been with Lindow Man’s find spot properly marked? Let us Know what you think!
Lockdown has been an opportunity for many of us to take solace and pleasure in walking and cycling in our own neighbourhood, exploring places we hadn’t been for a while or perhaps didn’t even know existed. Walking and cycling is good for us…reduces the air pollution that we know contributes to poor outcome in people with Covid-19 infections and exercise in fresh air keeps us all healthier. It also reduces traffic congestion and all the costs and frustration that go with that. 1.3 million bikes have apparently been sold in the UK since March….let’s make our streets safer so people actually want to cycle and walk again!
Everyone is invited to our virtual Town Hall meeting on Monday 6 July 7pm, email email@example.com for joining details. Let our Councillors know what you think about this, and sign our petition here:
Check out our meeting minutes from 18 June….you will be surprised at what we get up to! Let us know if you would like to join us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Planting trees, tending the community garden, trying to preserve Lindow Moss, the repair cafes, responding to planning applications, holding community events, helping people save energy, supporting walking and cycling, helping with the Neighbourhood Plan implementation group….so much to do to make our patch of the planet a better place.
Blog 2: How secure are our food chains? Althea Wilkinson
I have to admit, I had scarcely given this a serious thought before the lockdown. Theoretically, yes, disruption to the food chain was something that could happen, but probably not in my lifetime? Not in the UK? How could I have been so complacent?
I was sent a linkto an article in Nature Food, entitled “Vulnerability of the United Kingdom’s food supply chains exposed by COVID-19” (by Philip Garnett, Bob Doherty and Tony Heron)which really got me thinking. Did you know we import almost half our food, and 84% of our fresh fruit? That 81% of our apples are imported from Europe, through the Straits of Dover? I thought we grew many of our own apples in the UK? OK, we obviously have to import oranges and bananas, but raspberries and strawberries (77% each imported)? These figures come from the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Latest Horticulture Statistics(2018) so I guess they reflect official reality.
It turns out food supply chains are very complicated, and all different. Not only do we have to think about where the primary food (fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts etc.) is grown, but also who picks or gathers it, and whether it goes to feed a primary consumer which isn’t us, such as cows, sheep, chickens or pigs, or comes directly to us. Then there is the trade aspect – which countries are involved, how likely are they to be willing to continue to export to us, and how will it be transported to the UK? Once there, how does it get to the supermarket (never mind the vexed issue of packaging)?
The article explains how we have become very good at supply chain technology and logistics, but the more efficient we get, and the longer and more complex the supply chain, the more vulnerable we are when things go wrong. Phrases like ‘lean sourcing’, ‘just-in-time’ (JiT) logistics, ‘highly optimized to maximizeflow of resources through the system’and ‘reductions in the supply base’ all begin to sound more like reasons for concern rather than ideal market practices. Failure in one part of the system can easily propagate through the chain. Most food chains are not even linear, but are complex networks, taking input from all over the world, and loss of one input can affect the whole network.
Fresh food supplies are particularly critical because fresh food has this bad habit of “going off”. This is where the “Just in Time” comes in. Apparently if I was running a supermarket and saw that I needed to restock my shelves, if I wanted to order some apples from France, salads from the Netherlands or vegetables from Spain, for example, I have to do it through a central electronic ordering system in the morning, which then before midday gets relayed to a third party supplier in the EU. The supplier subcontracts the labour used to harvest and pack the produce, and generally the farmers have predicted the demand accurately enough to have stocks available, somebody has to truck it across the channel and the supermarket expects delivery some time the next day. Wow. This is just a simple linear food chain.
So thinking about it, this made it obvious to me why we started having empty shelves. We were all living and eating at home and hence doing much more grocery shopping. As soon as everyone buys three of everything instead of the usual one item, the shelves empty three times as fast. The supermarkets hadn’t foreseen this, and wouldn’t have had room to keep large amounts of stores anyway – they tend to have rather small storage space compared with the selling area. The labour forces in the source countries were under lockdown, the food didn’t get harvested, and maybe the lorry drivers were under lockdown too? Or maybe there was some reason for a holdup at the Channel? Extra paperwork, maybe, or they had to have their temperatures taken? Who knows? Similar sorts of scenarios played out for all sorts of products. In fact, looked at like this, it was a miracle the supermarkets recovered as quickly as they did. Clearly some creative thinking and resourcing of the supply chains went on, and food destined for schools, restaurants and other businesses got redirected. . Packaging in large amounts for commercial caterers eventually got scaled down to many smaller packages for households. Also we shifted the demand to local producers and small farmers via fruit and veg boxes.
However, pandemics aren’t the only problem we should be thinking about. Climate change, in particular weather extremes such as droughts, floods and storms, are already and will increasingly affect food production, both where it is grown and how much can be grown. If we have become dependent on a small number of suppliers, political disruptions such as Brexit or civil unrest could impact both supply and prices. If the supply countries are hit by shortages they may want to reserve supplies for their own populations. And if we are hit by more than one of these threats at the same time, then our reliance on imports indeed becomes worrying. How secure are our food chains? The answer seems to be not very secure at all.
The RSPB have produced an important report https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-casework/our-positions/agriculture-and-land-use/farming-land-use-and-nature/peatlands/ which includes a link to a recent paper in Biological Conservation https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006320720306777?dgcid=author.
You may have seen the mess by Saltersley Hall. Like many others we have written a strongly worded objection to the current owner’s planning application, and we remain extremely concerned by the current state of Lindow Moss. We have been lobbying as hard as we can, and hope that one day sense will prevail and we as a community will realise the importance of this Moss, not just as a place of recreation for us, but also as a carbon sink to preserve the planet for our children and grandchildren.