Catch that buzz!

Catch that buzz!

Welcome to the September Subs Club, just for Kitchen Garden subscribers. Part one focuses on bugs, birds, brew days, boots… and Brexit!

Urban Buzz Leicester reaches halfway mark

In celebration of Urban Buzz Leicester, the local authority’s parks department has commissioned a mural for Abbey Park (top picture, courtesy of Buglife)

Urban Buzz Leicester, which began in July 2017, has passed its halfway milestone, with work completed at 51 of 100 sites. Run by insect conservation charity Buglife, the Urban Buzz project is working with local people to create flower-rich habitats for bees, butterflies and other pollinators across eight UK cities. By transforming mown and unused areas of land, it will create more than 210 hectares of vibrant insect habitat.

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Each city is getting 21 months of intensive support, with funding from Biffa Award and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The first phase of the project took in Birmingham, Cardiff, Plymouth and York, and phase two saw it extended to Leicester, Leeds, Bristol and Ipswich.

Planting at Belgrave Gardens, Leicester. Picture: Buglife

The Leicester project was tasked with creating 100 sites for pollinators across the city. Working with Leicester City Council, the University of Leicester, Naturespot, and local wildlife and community groups, Urban Buzz has now completed work at 51 sites. Key projects have included wildflower meadow creation at Western Park and Aylestone Meadows, woodland enhancement at Spinney Hill Park, and a large new bee bank at Castle Hill Country Park.

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A further 45 projects are scheduled for the autumn and winter, including work at the Attenborough Arboretum and the University of Leicester’s Brookfield Campus. The project is still looking for its last few sites, so if you live in Leicester and want to improve a local patch for pollinators, contact Urban Buzz officer Nick Packham at Nick.Packham@buglife.org.uk

Find out more at https://www.buglife.org.uk/news-and-events/news/urban-buzz-leicester-half-way-mark

Lay long and prosper

All aboard the Starship Henterprise!

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Chickens are getting their own automatic sliding doors to let them out in the morning and lock them up at night – and to celebrate the product launch, chicken housing innovator Omlet has made a short film, complete with a model of the Starship Enterprise and chickens wearing the uniforms of Captain Kirk, Scotty, Bones and Spock. The crew of chickens are shown hurtling towards the foxes’ home planet. We see frantic communication, buttons being pressed, and finally a clever addition to the Henterprise: Omlet’s new Autodoor.

Omlet’s Head of Video Production Danny Macgregor says, “The Autodoor is such an advanced product for a chicken coop, it seemed obvious to spend two weeks building a replica of the Enterprise out of cardboard, sewing mini uniforms, and rapidly prototyping chicken-sized Spock ears to create the launch video.”

The Autodoor attaches to the Eglu Cube or to any wooden chicken coop, and can be set to open according to light levels or a timer. It is battery-powered and easy to install, and prices start from £149.99. The first 100 Autodoor orders will receive one of the limited-edition ‘Lay Long and Prosper’ chicken jackets, as seen in the video.

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Step aboard the USS Henterprise at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tLubA1Qa8U and find out more about the Autodoor at https://www.omlet.co.uk/shop/chicken_keeping/automatic_chicken_coop_door_opener/

Capital food celebration

This year’s London Urban Food Fortnight, which celebrates the ultra-local food being grown, made, cooked and saved in the capital, runs from September 20 to October 7. Launched in 2012 as Urban Food Week, it has grown to become London Food Link’s flagship event.

Last year there were 100 events and special menus on offer over the fortnight, and 2018 looks set to be just as busy. With events ranging from special menus at top restaurants to supper clubs, garden open days to community brew days, and workshops to walking tours, there’s something for everyone.

Check out the events diary at https://www.sustainweb.org/uff/

Agriculture Bill promises ‘green Brexit’

Legislation promising to deliver ‘a cleaner and healthier environment for future generations’ was introduced into parliament on September 12. Environment Secretary Michael Gove set out plans to invest in the environment and ‘take back control’ for farmers once EU rules and the Common Agricultural Policy no longer apply.

The Agriculture Bill sets out how farmers and land managers will in future be paid for ‘public goods’, such as better air and water quality, improved soil health, higher animal welfare standards, public access to the countryside, and measures to reduce flooding. This will replace the current subsidy system, which pays farmers based on the amount of land farmed and is heavily skewed towards the largest landowners. Under the proposed new system, which will be phased in from next year, farmers who provide the greatest environmental benefits will secure the largest rewards.

Michael Gove said: “After nearly 50 years of being tied to burdensome and outdated EU rules, we have an opportunity to deliver a green Brexit. This bill will allow us to reward farmers who protect our environment, leaving the countryside in a cleaner, greener and healthier state for future generations.”

The Wildlife Trusts responded by pointing out that Britain is currently ‘one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world’, and that since 70% of our land is farmed, the success of these new proposals is vital.

It says: “Over the past 50 years, half the bee, butterfly and moth species studied in the 2013 State of Nature Report have declined. We can directly link these declines to changes in the way we farm. The intensification of agriculture has led to the destruction of habitat, and what is left is becoming increasingly fragmented.”

It adds that if the Government is to deliver its promises, it needs to set targets for the recovery of the environment, commit to substantially increased investment, legislate to ensure that farmers meet environmental standards, and fund environmental protection agencies so that the legislation can be enforced.

Read the Government’s proposals at https://www.gov.uk/government/news/landmark-agriculture-bill-to-deliver-a-green-brexit and the Wildlife Trusts’ response at

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/new-agriculture-bill-vital-recover-nature

Wear Your Wellies for Thrive

Put your best foot (or boot) forward for charity!

Show your support for Thrive by giving it some welly! The charity, which uses gardening to improve the lives of people with disabilities or ill health, or who are isolated, disadvantaged or vulnerable, is asking supporters to take part in its second Wear Your Wellies Day.

The idea is simple – wear your wellies instead of your usual footwear on Wednesday, September 19 and donate to Thrive. Anyone can take part – businesses, schools, colleges or individuals; the only requirement is a pair of wellies (and possibly an employer with a sense of humour). The day will raise much-needed funds for Thrive, to enable its horticultural therapists to help more people. Thrive has a Wear your Wellies JustGiving campaign page where you can make your donation, or you can give via text on 70070 quoting BOOT18 and the amount you want to give – for example, BOOT18£5.

Simone Thompson, fundraising officer at Thrive, says, “At last year’s launch we were blown away by the colourful display of wellies worn in support of Thrive. On the day, we had schools, organisations and people up and down the country putting their best welly forward. There were even some celebrity wellies supporting Thrive, courtesy of the lovely Debbie McGee and TV gardener David Domoney.

“This year we’d love to see even more people having fun by dusting down their wellies to show their support. Make sure you upload your welly boot pictures on social media using wearyourwellies and show the world your wonderful wellingtons.”

Find out more and get involved at https://www.thrive.org.uk/wear-your-wellies-day.aspxwearyourwellies

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About the Author

Steve Ott

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