Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all.

Changes at Bluebell.
I hope you had a good year on the allotment. Thanks for all your help over the year. I thought you’d be interested to see a summary of the last meeting of team leaders. There are a few changes. Peter Medhurst is now Land and Water team leader as Mark will be travelling. Roberta sent round a short survey.
Sustainable Living Initiative is registered as a charity and improvements to the organisational structure continue to be made. GO2 numbers at Bluebell have dropped to about 70 – how to get more people involved?
A new leaflet is being prepared. Jim said that Paul Lievens has offered to help redesign the website.
Plot 57A is going back to the Council at the end of this year. I’ve written to the four people still on that plot to offer them replacement plots as from spring 2017.
We will reinstate ‘volunteer’ morning on the first Sunday of the month, followed by food-sharing lunch. We will draw up the tasks to be done. How to advertise and organise and ask people sign up? Decided so far: 5th March – tools and recruitment (Jane); 2nd April – compost (Phil); 7th May – maintenance (Peter); 4th June – improve central path (Mahesh)
The rota: we will have one person on Wednesdays and two on Sundays. The notice re opening hours on the door has been changed to say that access is by key at any time to members.
A big thank you to Mark for all the work he has put into GO2. We all wish him and Joanna well for their travels.

I wish everyone a happy and productive new year!

You might be interested in a talk called “The History of the Bluebell Allotment” with Victoria Manthorpe, at Earlham Library Thursday 9th February 5.45pm – 7pm. Please let people know about it. Roberta

Rita wrote: Happy Christmas one and all, and best wishes for the coming year.  If you have time, check out today’s EDP (online) for “The farmer who buried his underpants”!

Many thanks Mark for your big contribution and Bon Voyage – and thanks to you Christine and GO2 team leaders for your hard work. Happy Christmas to you all, Roger

Food Share at Bluebell is on 1st January 2017, please come and help warm up the GO2 big shed. Moira

A tree decoration at the SLI Christmas meal at Marlpit Community Centre

A tree decoration at the SLI Christmas meal at Marlpit Community Centre

To see photos of the Christmas meal we shared on 10th December look at the SLI blog.

Best wishes, Jim



A very warm welcome to both the existing and recently joined members of Sustainable Living Initiative (SLI). You’re now a member of a community gardening scheme which was started 12 years ago. We hope you will enjoy being part of it.
SLI membership is a forum for discussion, sharing ideas and skills and initiating and managing practical action projects related to organic food growing and nature conservation. Whether you are interested in growing vegetables, fruit and herbs, or in learning about bees, wildlife and forest gardening or in improving gardening and cooking skills, you will find a lot going on.
All SLI members get a 10% discount on our training sessions as well as on our produce for sale. As SLI members, you can join our Sustainable Living Cooperative Group where you can buy Suma products at wholesale price.
Because SLI is run by volunteers, the long-term sustainability of the organisation depends on your cooperation and active participation. Please do let us know if you would like to help in any way.
Our regular fortnightly Newsletter has been suspended for a while. We would like to hear from you what is the best way of communicating about our activities and events for example, members’ page on our website, face book, Newsletter, …?
Call for new trustees of Sustainable Living Initiative
We currently have two Trustees vacancies. If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, please e-mail me on, along with a copy of your CV.

SLI Evaluation
We need to know what difference our work has made to our members. Such information is important for us to know what we have done well and how can we further improve our services.

SLI Trustees have appointed Roberta Manners as an external evaluator for this purpose. She will be contacting you all by e-mail within a week. If you for some reason do not wish to be contacted, please let me know ( by Sunday 27th November.

Thank you once again for joining SLI and I look forward to working with you all in the days to come.

Mahesh Pant

Bluebell Grow Our Own

Shed Opening Hours

The centre shed is now not officially open on Wednesday and Sunday mornings until mid February, although some of us will probably be up there on those days. You can go in the shed with a key of course, but please remember to put the keys back in their place!

Strawberry plants:
We’ve been given a lot of strawberry plants. If you want some, they are outside the polytunnel. Help yourself!

Tools and sheds day in early November:
This seems to have been very good and thanks to all who turned up to help.

Vacant plots:
We still have some vacant plots. Please tell your friends and show anyone interested around. To be allocated a plot, please email or ring 920570 or 07969 996646.


More news soon…

GO2 News

After years of labouring away at the fortnightly newsletter, Jim needs a break! But he has kindly agreed to email all GO2 members with a short notice about GO2 matters. This will go out once a month only! If you want to know what’s going on at Bluebell, you will need to read it! We found that a lot of people never even opened the previous fortnightly newsletter which is partly why it was decided to stop doing it. You can of course use the Facebook page.

Welcome to new members: Mo and Julia and baby Florence, Laura, Serena, Sheila, Javier and Diana. Some people have moved from two outlying plots to be more central so we gave two plots back to the Council. We now have 12 Council plots in all.

What to sow on your plot – October/November

Now is the time to clear your plot ready for planting. Broad beans, garlic and onions are ready to plant and can be found in the main shed. If you haven’t grown them before, instructions for planting are either on the cards in the window or in the planting manual in the shed or on the website. If you are unsure about planting, come and see us on Wednesday morning and Sunday morning from 10 – 1 when some of us will be there to ask.

Sunday 6 November:

All hands required for Jane’s Tools and Sheds day, 10 – 1 pm followed by food-sharing lunch. This is a check on all our tools. Please come!


Our Land and Water team coordinator, Mark Newman, is taking a gap year to go travelling with his partner and therefore this very important role is vacant. Anyone interested is invited to contact Mahesh or Christine at for further information. You would be part of the 7-person management team, which has ad hoc and sometimes unruly meetings but which works very well together in keeping going your scheme, Grow-Our-Own at Bluebell South. Christine says: we are absolutely indebted to Mark for the amount of work he has done in setting up the watering system, strimming and tidying up everywhere including re-aligning paths between plots, and erecting, with some help, the new metal shed. A hallmark of Mark’s legacy round our site are the prehistoric-looking burial mounds but you won’t find even a mislaid root vegetable in them! We will miss Mark’s artistry, skills and great sense of humour and wish him happy adventures abroad!


Tools: recent purchases of petrol grass and strimming/brush-cutting tools have been made. To use the equipment growers will need to demonstrate competency in using it. If you have petrol strimmer experience or would like to gain knowledge and experience of using 2-stroke strimmers, come on Sunday 6 November or contact Mahesh Plant on 07969 996646, email

Shed: the new metal shed, which replaces the one burnt down 10 years ago! will keep shears, strimmers etc and will be accessible by key only on request to Christine, Mahesh and Jane.


Grass cutting at GO2 Bluebell South

Italian made - Emak Efcao LR 44PK Comfort Plus LawnmowerWe’ve recently purchased petrol-powered grass and brush cutting tools for GO2 Bluebell South.
Users of the equipment will need to demonstrate competence. If you have petrol strimmer experience or would like to gain knowledge and experience of using two-stroke strimmers contact Mahesh Pant on 07969 996646 or


Welcome (once more) to GO2

We haven’t made membership cards this year: last year was just an experiment.
Remember “First Sunday Food” is on 6th November at 1pm
After the “Big Shed Tidy” finishes at noon, the other team leaders will take a few minutes to explain what their team does, before the Food Team start to set up for the 1pm food-sharing lunch. We hope you’ll stay, and if you can, please bring a dish to share.
Even if you cannot be there all morning, it would be useful to be there at 12 and it would certainly be nice to come to lunch and meet other members. If it rains we’ll eat inside.


Mark steps down

The shed that Mark built.

Mark, the Land and Water Team leader is taking a gap year from “Grow Our Own” at Bluebell to go travelling with his partner. I’m sure we’d all like to thank Mark for all his efforts. He almost single-handedly built the new tool shed. and has given a fine example to anyone who follows. We’ll miss him and hope to see him again soon.
I would hope that someone, possibly a member of Mark’s team, will now come forward and take over the role. Read Mark’s report from the last AGM to find out what’s involved, and please talk to other members and especially other team leaders and let us know by emailing

Final footnote

Find Grow Ourown on facebook

Number 25 was the last newsletter in the current series: I have spent too long at my computer over recent years and need to see more of the real world!
I’d like to thank Tish Kerkham for her editorial help during the last year: we expect to continue putting news and stories on the “blog”, but no longer emailing to members.
We have “social media”, and we will use them increasingly.
If you urgently wish to share news and ideas by email with all members, please let us know, and we could send out a circular.
If your email address changes, click here to tell us the new one.

All former newsletter items may be found in the blog (click here) and if you look, you’ll see you can search for what interests you in several ways, or see the list of “Recent Posts” on the left.
If you miss the newsletter, you can read the old ones by clicking here.


23rd September 2016 – Newsletter Number 25

What’s on

Growing-information for September

Onions sets available at Bluebell as well as at Marpit.
Click to see information on the website

Recent events
Bluebell South - Open Day GO2 2016 October 2nd Don’t forget to come to GO2 Open Day on Sunday 2 October from 12 noon to 4 pm. We will be open to the public and if you can publicise this anywhere please do. We may get people interested in joining so please come and talk to would-be members!
There will be refreshments and produce for sale and the apple press will be pressing fresh juice. apple-press
If you can help, get in touch with us. You can renew your sub for 2016-17 from 10 am.
See you there!

GO2 Bluebell South – Open Day

Our annual Open Day is from 12 to 4 on 2nd October 2016,

We'll need to tidy-up a little! We renew our membership that day and hope to ATTRACT NEW MEMBERS...

Tell your friends and share the poster (click below).

If you want to renew membership or plot rental on the day, you will be able to hand in completed application forms. The form refers to Growers' Agreements and other documents for Bluebell and Marlpit which are on our website. (Click the links to read them.)

Food & Drink on Open Day

As you can read the word "Refreshments" on the posters, visitors are expecting to be able to have hot or cold drinks and maybe snacks - so we need to provide them.
Please bring what you can to the Food Feam, who will be setting-up tables in the morning.
Ingredients need to be listed for public health reasons - a simple label or sheet of paper is enough, for example

Tray bake - contains gluten-free flour, vegetable oil, apples and no nuts"
Cup cakes - contain wheat flour, white sugar, butter, eggs and dried fruit

Please also label containers with your name.

GO2 Bluebell South - Open Day 12-4 on 2nd October 2016

GO2 Bluebell South - Open Day 12-4 on 2nd October 2016 (click to see poster)

Click here to read about Bluebell's Open Day 2015. or click here to see renewal documents.

9th September 2016 – Newsletter Number 24

What’s on

Growing-information for September

Click to see information on the website

Recent events
Bluebell South - Open Day GO2 2016 October 2nd Honey harvest 2016 Sustainable Living Initiative in "Norwich Citizen" - Autumn 2016

Honey Harvest 2016

Honey harvest 2016

Honey harvest 2016

Our honey harvest for 2016 is complete bringing in a grand total of 90lbs of honey.
We extracted the honey from the combs using our new tangential honey extractor.
First the wax cappings were removed from the cells. The frames of honey were put in the extractor and spun round flinging the drops of honey outwards by centrifugal force. The honey ran down the sides of the cylinder and was strained into a bucket.

Then it was poured into jars and labelled.
Next came the sticky job of clearing up. honey_label
The empty frames were returned to the bees to clean and add the remaining honey to their winter stores.
The honey is delicious! We are selling it for £5.50 a jar to members or £6 to non members with 50p deposit included on the jar.


Click any of the photos below to see them in as slides. Click here to see what happened after the bees had cleaned-up – they went looking for the missing honey! (Jim)

1. Capped honey ready waiting to be extracted

1. Capped honey ready waiting to be extracted

2. Capped honey in comb

2. Capped honey in comb

3. Uncapped honey in comb

3. Uncapped honey in comb

4. Honey frames in extractor

4. Honey frames in extractor

5. Extracting the honey

5. Extracting the honey

6. Draining the extractor

6. Draining the extractor

7. Straining the honey

7. Straining the honey

8. Honey in bucket

8. Honey in bucket

Honey harvest 2016

Honey harvest 2016

We’re in Citizen – Autumn 2016

Sustainable Living Initiative in "Norwich Citizen" - Autumn 2016

Sustainable Living Initiative in “Norwich Citizen” – Autumn 2016

SLI was featured in the latest edition of The Citizen, Norwich City Council’s quarterly magazine.

“The Sustainable Living Initiative hosted successful networking events over the past two summers for those involved in looking after their local open spaces, woods and parks …”
the article said.

“Held at Marlpit Community Garden – a really special site which has allotments, bees, wildflowers, fruit trees, sheep and more – it provided a chance for people to meet over refreshments”, it continued.

Sustainable Living Initiative in "Norwich Citizen" - Autumn 2016

Photo of MCG in “Norwich Citizen” – Autumn 2016



The Citizen is delivered to households across Norwich.


See our publicity pages for earlier “mentions”.

26th August 2016 – Newsletter Number 23

What’s on

Growing-information for August

Click to see information on the website

Recent events
  • Sunday 14 August at Bluebell Allotments South – a dozen of us sat in the sun planning the Open Day: we’d welcome ideas and help.

Bluebell South - Open Day GO2 2016 October 2nd

Bees in August

Vespa crabro, European Hornet on a hive

This is NOT a hornet – it is Volucella zonaria, a hoverfly. Hornets get a bad press once again.

August is the time when our gentle honey bees become more defensive. They are still out foraging for nectar to convert to honey and store for the winter but others have designs on their honey – wasps, hornets, badgers, bears (well, maybe not in Norfolk) and people. Our bees are ready to defend their stores with their lives if necessary – a bee dies after stinging someone.

Tsveta_and_Lily_holding_smokerThe change of mood was evident when Lily and her mum, Tsveta, inspected one of our hives with me on 16th August. Lily was excited to see inside a hive, but when the bees showed signs of being disturbed we decided to withdraw.

Several members at MCG have taken advantage of our spare protective clothing to view life in a hive this year. Others who would like to watch honey bees at work or help with looking after our colonies should get in touch with me in the spring.


More bee stories…

12th August 2016 – Newsletter Number 22

What’s on
  • Saturday 20 August Practical Training at Marlpit is cancelled due to no booking.
  • If anyone is interested in making seasonal fruit jam, please contact Mahesh – email: or tel: 01603920570.
  • Sunday 2 October – Bluebell Grow Our Own Open Day is in the planning stage – please get involved – ideas welcome at “the Big Shed” on Sunday morning.

Growing-information for August

Click to see information on the website

Recent events

Tuesday_at_MarlpitCourgette patties, kolokithokeftedes cooked by MarkSwifts and a microlite


Early Years at MCG

Marlpit Community Garden was a lively place to be on Tuesday.
Regular volunteers were joined by children from the Earlham Early Years Children’s Centre and their parents. Some of the parents spent time weeding the garden as well as helping their children to plant and water flowers and herbs in a special plot. They will be coming along for four Tuesdays during August.
2016-07-21 10.51.43Two older girls took a break from working their after-school and holiday plot to don protective suits and join a group that Tish took up to the bee sanctuary to view inside one of our hives.

A substantial lunch cooked by Amy and Mahesh was much appreciated by visitors and volunteers.


Birds of Marlpit Community Garden August 2016

Swifts and a microlite

Swifts and a microlite

Groups of swifts have been flying over the Garden lately. These birds are the most aerial of all our birds, never intentionally alighting on the ground, feeding on flying insects, they do nearly everything on the wing, even mating! They sleep on the wing, circling higher and higher into the sky in the evening and dozing for a few seconds at a time as they glide along through the night.

The only thing they cannot do on the wing is Continue reading

22nd July 2016 – Newsletter Number 21

What’s on

Growing-information for July

Click to see information on the website

Recent events

image007 Swarming bees P1230324-5

A Swarm at Marlpit Community Garden.

Last Friday morning Tish discovered that one of the hives was preparing to swarm. Honeybees were leaving and gathered in a nearby Blackthorn bush in the hedge by the Forest Garden.
Tish rang Mahesh, who called in Jim, and together he and Tish managed to capture the swarm.

Tish took these photos – click to enlarge –

1 - Old home - these bees stayed putOld home – these bees stayed put

2 - Swarming beesSwarming bees

3 - Swarm landed

Swarm landed

4 - Where is the swarm?Where is the swarm?

5 - Temporary accommodationTemporary accommodation

6 - Evening outside their new homeEvening outside their new home

7 - The new tenants at number 4The new tenants at number 4 8 - The bees safely housed - time for home after a long daySafely housed – time for home after a long day

Jim’s Bee Movie” on Youtube or Click here to see these photos by Jim (in OneDrive).

PS Yesterday (21 July) we acquired a new hive generously donated by Gareth, who has recently had to stop keeping bees.

2016-07-21 10.51.39