Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Food Bloggers Get Together

No problem with blight here - tomato selection courtesy of Patrick & Steph

Yesterday found me in Oxford - at the Botanic Gardens on a glorious September day. Thanks to Patrick of Bifurcated Carrots, a number of food growing bloggers met to chew the fat and also some produce. It was a nice mix of bloggers present - some of whom I read regularly, some I lurk on from time to time and others were completely and delightfully new. And with a real international flavour, as not only had Patrick and Steph come over from Amsterdam, Kate (Hills and Plains Seed Savers) had stopped off on her whirlwind tour from Australia to be with us for the day.

The day kicked off with non-stop chatter. That's the great thing with meeting bloggers, there's no introductory barrier to get over first. Ben from The Real Seed Catalogue had to be very assertive and insist he start his talk. At this point we gave up on the hired room and decamped outside to listen to his whirlwind tour of seed domestication over the last 11,000 years and the reasons why seed saving is important. Patrick then followed with a talk on garlic - he grew 100 varieties this year, so it's a subject close to his heart. Simon (The Plot Thickens - great to meet at last, hurrah!) finished off the morning's proceedings with some thoughts on allotments (including one of his poems), plus a fun quiz based on his blog.

Lunch then followed with us picnicking on the grass - for once we had to seek a shady spot. How often has that happened in England this year? The pictured bowl of tomatoes was full to the brim when the picnic started. Cat (Manor Stables Veg Plot) also supplied a delicious pie filled with apples from her neighbour's garden.

Next we had a seed swap. I was feeling rather a fraud at this point as my disorganisation meant I'd bought no seeds. Besides, mine would have been paltry fare compared with the heirloom varieties, seeds saved in Australia and Patrick's unusual garlic varieties on offer. So I held back for a while until encouraged by the others to take a few packets. So I've made a deal with myself as a result - I'll not only save some seed, I'll also make sure some of it gets passed on to someone else. I'm particularly looking forward to trying Rebsie's (Daughter of the Soil) tomatoes and Patrick's garlic. I'll also try out his tip about mulching garlic with straw to even out the temperature over winter.

The day ended with a stroll around the gardens - I was impressed with the standard of labelling. In most gardens it's usually non-existent, sporadic or wrong. There pretty well everything was labelled and we had a fine time going around the glasshouses and were pleased to find a good food crop display both in there and outside. We only went round a fraction of the outside gardens, so I've made a mental note to return soon.

It was a great day in great company. I was particularly pleased to meet Emma (Fluffius Muppetus) and thank her personally for donating a prize for my Open Garden fundraiser. Mustardplaster, Soilman and Spade Work were friendly first timers for me. It was inspirational and educational too - so thank you Patrick and Steph for arranging such a great day for us.

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a fantastic day - what fun. Thanks also for passing on the tip about the garlic.
    Karen

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  2. What a wonderful day and how great is that to meet up with so many other bloggers. The virtual community becomes real.

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  3. oh how lovely... I was extremely excited to receive the Organic Seed Company catalogue. When everyone else on the flight will be reading magazines and watching in-flight films. I will be planning the allotment and the small garden veggie patch. I would like to try some heirloom seeds next year... Graph paper and pencils in my hand luggage... if they let me that is? :$

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  4. Sounds like a great day out, and what fun to meet up with all those other bloggers!

    Zoë

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  5. Hi VP, it was really great to meet you too. I think we could have all chatted for several hours more couldn't we, it was interesting hearing everyone's story. Ben's talk opened my eyes to a situation I hadn't previously considered - it's cool to think that a virtual blogging community has that real dimension of a seed-saving and sharing community.

    Simon

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  6. Hi VP,

    Thanks for coming. It was nice to meet you and everyone else. I'm really glad you had a good time.

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  7. Interesting green flan cases, VP.

    You'd easily feed a garden party if you baked with one of those.

    Esther Montgomery
    ESTHER IN THE GARDEN

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  8. Hi VP - was really nice to meet you. Could have chatted all day about veggey things....soaking up knowledge from everyone was great! Hopefully see you next year...! cat xxx

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  9. Sounds like a grand day out :)

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  10. Hi everyone - it was a great day and lovely to meet so many bloggers for real.

    Esther - your comment made me laugh so much :)

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  11. It was lovely to meet you. I'm so glad you took some of my tomatoes ... I hope they do well for you. You never need to worry about turning up empty-handed to a seed swap. Seeds are so abundant there's always plenty to spare, and the best way to preserve heirloom varieties is to get them out there into as many gardens and allotments as possible, so most of the time people are only too glad to give them away.

    Hope we can do this again next year!

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  12. Hi Rebsie - that's so kind of you. I'll make sure my surplus next year gets passed on. And yes, I hope there's a next year!

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