Abbey Gardens viewed from the Webcam

The long view

Thanks to Robert Rogers for this image
Thanks to Robert Rogers for this image

Robert sent me this image of the site taken from the top of a local tower block. You get to see the context of the streets and factories around the site, and also a touch of green: could be the grass coming up or could be weeds!

Fizzy Drink Links ... or what is Sarsaparilla?

I've been doing a lot more research into the 1906 Plaistow Land-Grabbers & their Triangle Camp (more of which later). One of the things I was interested to read was that once they had been evicted from the 1st site they set up another camp called Pooley's Triangle Yard. As well as flying the red flag removed from their triangle camp 'hotel' they put up bills on the gates stating that 'on payment of a penny for a refreshment ticket the holder was entitled to a glass of sarsaparilla & to enjoy the concerts & speeches provided'. Assuming the Pooley's in the camp name is the same company advertised in the Pamphlet about the Land-Grabbers (found in Newham archive) I assume they were also the manufacturers of the sarsaparilla. What I can't work out is what exactly this drink is/was and why they linked themselves to the protesters.

Meanwhile back in 2008 my own elderflower 'champagne', made from blooms off the site, is starting to bubble. Not, it seems, as much as the 'Olympian' variety which Hilary tells me has already caused a few explosions. She sent me a link today to the event where you can taste their fine wines and other spirits!

The First Harvest?

Elderflowers collected from the edge of the garden
Elderflowers collected from the edge of the garden

photo: Nina Pope

I went out on my bike on Friday and harvested the elderflowers from next to the site. I'm trying out two recipes: one for cordial (which you can drink straight away) & one for 'champagne', which takes a couple of weeks to mature.

I've frozen some cordial and unless I fall fowl of bottle explosions (apparently a common problem with the champagne) we should have some of each to try when we meet together with the friends of Abbey Gardens group ... I think some of them are attempting some too.

Coincidentally Andreas sent me a link to another project in the area which also involves collecting local 'produce' from around the Olympic perimeter blue fence to make 'Olympic' spirits and foodstuffs ... it's by Optimistic Productions who have more about it on their interesting website.

Seeded site 21/05/08

Fingers crossed for enough rain to help the grass grow ...

Seed Shape Update

Tim helps out revealing the seed shape
Tim helps out revealing the seed shape

Photo: Nina Pope

Last week, once the contractors had seeded the whole site with a mixture of wild flowers and 'regular' grass seed, Tim & I went to Abbey Gardens to reveal the soil for the 'seed shape' we've made. The idea is to see what grows from the 'original' soil on the site, rather than in the new topsoil now covering the whole area.

In the weeks since we covered the shape over, the plastic (protecting this soil from the 'new seeding') has obviously acted a bit like a cloche and there is already abundant seed growth in some areas! Later in the summer we hope to use the shape as a starting point for some community events.


Any recipes post them here ...

These are one of the only things left growing around the site pre-seeding!

100 Cauliflowers

Image from the Independent Photography Flickr Site
Image from the Independent Photography Flickr Site

I received an interesting invite card at work this week for an intriguing looking project ...

"In April 2007 environmental artist Kerry Morrison was commissioned by Independent Photography (IP) to research environmental issues on the Greenwich peninsula and develop proposals for working with local residents on new art projects for the public realm. 100 Cauliflowers is one of these projects, developing from specific research into the peninsula’s history alongside discussion with residents about issues of food growing, sourcing and consumption.

100 Cauliflowers is part of IP’s ‘Peninsula‘ programme of contemporary participative art. ‘Peninsula’ commissions artists to engage with the Greenwich peninsula and its changing environment, and to produce new work in collaboration with local residents."

Visit their site to find our why cauliflowers!

The Three Mills Loop

The cathedral of sewage ...
The cathedral of sewage ...

Just one of the walk highlights

Our friend Gordon will be leading 2 walks over the next 2 Sundays round the 'three mills loop'. Readers of this blog will recognise the route from the one we took a couple of weeks ago prompting descent into a 'structural hole' - I hope these two prove as productive!

The Three Mills Loop (a circular walk starting and ending at House Mill) will take place for the next two Sundays, May 4th and May 11th, at 1 pm and for the next few months on the first Sunday of the month.

The walk starts and ends at House Mill, Three Mill Lane, London E3 3DU which is near Tesco on the A12. Bromley by Bow is the near tube station.

More details here

No registration required.

The House Mill is open from 11 am for tours, which last between 45 minutes and an hour: click here for more information.


The Plaistow Landgrabbers pictured in 1906.
The Plaistow Landgrabbers pictured in 1906.

Photo: With thanks to Newham Archives and Local Studies

We have a name for the project inspired by this strange photograph of the Plaistow Landgrabbers taken from 'The Newham Story' ....

" ... At this time there was still the view that if you were unemployed it was your
own fault. Then in July 1906 a group of local men occupied some waste
ground in St Mary’s Road, Plaistow. They were led by Councillor Ben
Cunningham. They cleared the site and laid it out in four triangle shapes and
planted vegetables. It became known as Triangle Camp.
The men had two aims: to show that waste ground could be put to good use
and to show that the unemployed were willing to work.
The Council saw things differently and served the men with an injunction.
Eventually the men were removed but they had made their point. Locally at
least attitudes started to change towards the unemployed."

The men have painted the back wall of the plot with the phrase WHAT WILL THE HARVEST BE? For some reason it reads very much like a contemporary URL.


The friends of Abbey Gardens get stuck in
The friends of Abbey Gardens get stuck in

photo: Nina Pope

Nothing like a bit of Pickaxe action to get folk involved! I think the residents of Bakers Row felt sorry for us on Saturday by which time the soil inside the shape had dried out and compacted to the point where a pickaxe really was the most suitable tool ...

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