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Community gardens in the news

  • Subject: [cg] Community gardens in the news
  • From: "Sharon Gordon" gordonse@one.net
  • Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 06:50:12 -0400
  • Importance: Normal

There was an interesting article in the paper about a community garden this
It's about gluts and plot holders at Musselburgh Allotments  that got
together to pool their knowledge
about what to do with the summer's abundance.

Quite fun:



Don't get stuck in a glut

Allotment holders cook up a clever plan for dealing with mountains of summer
fruit and vegetables. By ALISON SMITH

BUMP into an allotment holder at this time of year and watch them swell with
pride, like their prize marrows, as they chat animatedly about harvesting
the results of their hard work of earlier months. Whether it's fruit or
vegetables, home growers will be surrounded by piles of their best pickings.
In the kitchen, however, the story is just beginning. Home produce needs to
be prepared, cooked and preserved, and, in the summer season, it all seems
to happen at once. If you grow your own, menu planning happens in reverse --
you fit in around your ingredients. Instead of selecting plastic-wrapped
designer veg, you are likely to be faced with the prospect of single crops
performing so well that they form mountains.

This summer glut can be a problem - albeit a pleasant one - if you are not
prepared. The garden, in its wisdom, has decided that you will have 5lbs of
rhubarb per week to deal with. Gooseberries accumulate faster than they can
be turned into chutney. Soft fruits, longed for the rest of the year, are
suddenly over abundant, and people skilled in the art of jam-making will
find themselves standing over endless pans of the stuff, to capture that
short-lived taste of summer.

Plot holders at Musselburgh Allotments are acutely aware of the seasonal
glut of produce, and for years have swopped recipes for dealing with
surpluses and preserving for winter use.

This shared knowledge led to a far more satisfactory state of affairs. A
varied range of recipes means not having to follow old favourites so often
that they become a bore ("not rhubarb crumble again"). Before word got round
about Lorna Mackay's courgette fritters, plot holders' winced at the sight
of more mounds of the green marrows, which seemed to swell ceaselessly from
the ground, as if higher forces were demonstrating some pertinent point
about the life cycle.

Now large supplies of these spiced, juicy vegetable patties have been fried
up and sit happily in the freezer until required. American Jane Anderson has
shared chutney tips from across the pond.

They have scored a surprise hit with the menfolk. In keeping with the
organic, slow pace of life at the allotments, information tends to be
exchanged verbally, perhaps while leaning on a spade, or watching compost
mulch, but, over time, it became obvious that a cookery book would be of
great use.

So, The Glut Book was born. An editing team of four pooled the knowledge of
45 plot holders, to create an impressive compilation of recipes -- enough to
enthuse the weariest of summer cooks. These include 20 soups, an assortment
of main courses and side dishes, desserts, and coveted recipes for favourite
jams, preserves and chutneys that have been tweaked to perfection throughout
the years.

There's handy hints and tips for freezing. Ever tried blanching baby carrots
destined for the freezer in orange juice, or in fresh mint and water?

"Over the years, plot holders have exchanged recipes, and it turned out that
there were things that some people thought were commonplace, which others
had never heard of," says Jenny Mollison, Allotments Association secretary.
"What may seem obvious to one is a revelation to another."

After looking into commercially printing the book, the team decided to keep
the collection a small, home-spun affair, and have run off copies from a
personal computer. The secretary's outhouse has been turned into a makeshift
publishing house as the team ring-bind copies in time to launch at the
allotments open day tomorrow. It will be sold to raise funds for the
association. Clarissa Dickson Wright has already placed an order for several
copies to sell at The Cooks Bookshop in Edinburgh.

In The Glut Book, culinary and horticultural knowledge overlap. It has come
about, in part, because more women are taking on allotments. Jenny Mollison
says: "About a third of our plots are held by women. It's changed over the
past 10 years.

"The allotments have gone from the image of the 1920s and 1930s -- a male
preserve -- to something where we've got a lot of women involved such as
mothers with families who want to provide chemical free foods for their

While the book is freezer-friendly, it recognises that there is more than
one way to preserve a blackcurrant and does not shy away from the pickling
power of alcohol. Delicious recipes strictly for the grown ups include Ken's
adult sauce, Uncle John's boozeberry pudding, and rumpot. The latter is the
offering of Moira Purdie.

She says: "It's a German idea. I've been making it for about 15 years. It's
very potent when you get to the end of the jar." The rumpot involves
layering summer fruits drenched in sugar and rum, starting with the season's
first strawberries and ending with the fruits of late summer. By the time
you have eaten your way back down to the bottom layer, sometime next year,
the strawberries have been corrupted beyond recognition, and lie depraved
and careless in a sweet, boozy syrup.

So, if you're drowning in a sea of berries and up to your ears in
courgettes. Why not try the recipes above?

To order a copy of The Glut Book send a cheque for 5 (including
p&p)(***Note: If you are not in the UK, you'd need to add the extra postage
to mail a book to your location.  Also if you don't have a UK or Euro
checking account, you'd need to use a banking service that can send checks
in other currencies or you can get some pounds or euros from a bank in your
area and send cash.  The cash option is risky, but usually makes it to
western europe or the UK except for Italy.)  payable to Musselburgh
Allotments Association to MAA, The Laigh House, Inveresk Village EH21 7TD,
UK. Musselburgh Allotments Open Day: Tomorrow, 2-4pm; July 27, next to
Lewisvale Park Cricket pitch, Lewisvale Park, Inveresk Village, EH21.

-July 28th

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