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Welcome to Sue, Social Horticulture Therapy, and Christmas prepping

It was lovely to have a Centre Manager again, having been without one for a little while now.  Hopefully some of you got to meet Sue in the shop Thursday when she was shadowing Christine in her role as Shop Manager. It has been interesting listening to her and learning about the inspirational Weald and Downland Museum; we are obviously a much smaller charitable organisation however share similar ethos and challenges.  I am looking forward to finalising our next events flier covering Jan – Jul 2018 with her, bringing you all an interesting programme.

Last Thursday the volunteers managed to finish off the new solar tunnel covering so it is now weather tight and ready for the inside area to be sorted.  We will be getting the Social Horticulture Therapy clients to grow heritage plants using organic principles as employed throughout the site.  A few weeks ago we were fortunate to be given some heritage seed from the gardeners at West Dean, so will be making use of these and will hopefully do some research about their origin. We will also be using the ‘no dig’ method from the start, digging only when essential.  We will be looking for support to the local community for this very special project so please do get in touch if you are able to help us in anyway.
With Christmas now only 6 weeks away we are turning our attention to finalising the Christmas Fayre on Sunday 10th Dec.  We have tried to ensure that is an event with a theme of sustainability, in keeping with our ethos. I am fairly rigid with the retail criteria of those who wish to have a stall in that they need to have either made it themselves, grown it, or of Fair Trade or organic origin. We have also given stalls to a couple of charities. We will have our own homemade organic refreshments and there will be a choir singing seasonal songs.
For me personally, I get quite dismayed by the whole commercialisation of Christmas.  It seems to be thrust upon us in the shops months beforehand and the pressure put upon families to needlessly spend huge amounts of money when there is so much poverty and hardship around both locally and nationally. I remember reading an article in the Guardian by the astute George Monbiot back in 2012 along the lines of:
‘There’s nothing they need, nothing they don’t own already, nothing they even want. So you buy them a solar-powered waving queen; a belly button brush; a silver-plated ice cream tub holder; a “hilarious” inflatable zimmer frame; a confection of plastic and electronics called Terry the Swearing Turtle; or – and somehow I find this significant – a Scratch Off World wall map. They seem amusing on the first day of Christmas, daft on the second, embarrassing on the third. By the twelfth they’re in landfill. For thirty seconds of dubious entertainment, or a hedonic stimulus that lasts no longer than a nicotine hit, we commission the use of materials whose impacts will ramify for generations. Researching her film The Story of Stuff, Annie Leonard discovered that of the materials flowing through the consumer economy, only 1% remain in use six months after sale. Even the goods we might have expected to hold onto are soon condemned to destruction through either planned obsolescence (breaking quickly) or perceived obsolescence (becoming unfashionable).’
Without being too ‘bah humbug’ on the subject, I know only too well that climate change has shown us that of the one planet we have, we currently are using the resources of three planets. If we could all take an extra minute or two when deciding about Christmas presents and perhaps consider the following:
  • Have a go at making a home made gift, buy something that is vintage or pre-loved 
  • Consider a non-monetary gift where what you pay goes to a charity or cause such as those sold in Oxfam shops
  • Shop locally to try and keep the pound locally, buy from small independent traders where possible
  • Look out for Fair Trade or Organic products giving accreditation on where it has come from or the method of production being humane
  • Make lists to try and just buy the food that you know you will consume to avoid too much food waste

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