What a fantastic start to the year as we all explored the creativity and joy of mindful embroidery with Cordwainers Grow, who run community embroidery evenings every Monday at their base in Mare Street. We learnt how to embroider some lavender stems with two simple stitches and also heard how craft activities such as embroidery can have significant benefits in terms of mental health and our capacity to engage in mindfulness through activity.
A huge thanks to Debbie and Jacqui from Cordwainers Grow for leading us in the workshop. Cordwainers Grow are a Hackney based community interest company focusing on connecting people with the natural world in creative and collaborative ways. They evolved out of Cordwainers Garden, a community growing space on land belonging to the London College of Fashion in Mare St. Wanting to make the link with what the staff and students were doing inside the college to the outside, in 2011 they started growing plants for dyeing and to make fibre. The garden closed in April 2019 but Cordwainers Grow continues and they champion community growing in the face of increased competition for space through their involvement with the Union Of Gardens. We will continue to post information about upcoming events they are involved in on our Facebook page for those that are interested.
A big thank you to Hackney Herbal who came to our March meeting to talk all things herbal. Back in 2015, Hackney Herbal set out on a mission to show people how to incorporate herbs into their lifestyles, for health and improved wellbeing. The idea came from a desire to create more value out of the herbs that were being grown in private, public and community gardens.
They now grow herbs in a patchwork of sites around Hackney and from these they create unique herbal tea blends. The funds from the sale of these go towards community activities in Hackney, which bring people together to learn, share knowledge and be inspired. We got to learn all about the various properties of different herbs and made a selection of unique herbal tea blends and took a whole batch of herbal tea bags home at the end of the night.
March 10th – we took part in Solace Women’s Aid International Women’s Day celebrations with a free afternoon of Games and Cake at The Crypt at St Peter’s De Beauvoir. It was a successful afternoon and although this wasn’t the aim, there were generous donations made for the tea and cake provided and we will be sending Solace a cheque later this month. We had some serious crafting going on in one corner and scrabble and cluedo particularly went down well…it was Miss Scarlet in the Hall with the Candlestick if you were wondering. Thanks to all who came and all who baked and helped on the day.
Knitting group will be meeting on March 18th and our knitters are getting involved with our local yarn bombing group, De Beauvoir K2P2 who are planning an exciting project for the summer and were in need of additional knitting support, email us at the usual address if you would like to join our knitting group, beginners welcome.
As the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness descended upon us, we had a fascinating September meeting as Sarah Calcutt, Operations Director of English Apples And Pears joined us to talk about farming and marketing the glorious apple and pear produce produced in the UK. We learnt about the astonishing advances in fruit farming over the past years, how a new variety of apple comes into being, and even got a sneak preview of three new apple varieties that are in progress, one of which might well be finding its way onto our supermarket shelves in 7 or 8 years time. She was a hugely informative speaker, passionate about her subject and we had some interesting debates about packaging (without current packaging around 40% of produce would end up being wasted through bruising etc although there are major developments around decreasing use of plastic that are ongoing) and the use of specialised equipment to analyse the soil in order to target fertilizer use more economically and ecologically.
A few photos from our last meeting making pretty posies to give to someone as an act of kindness.
For those who missed it see step-by-step guide here https://www.thewi.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0017/191204/Lonely-Bouquet-Step-by-Step-Guide.pdf
The sun could not have shone brighter for our first joint De Beauvoir WI and De Beauvoir Gardeners Flower and Produce. Everyone I meet who attended has had nothing but praise for the event and how much it brings the community together. If you missed the prize giving (or if you sadly missed the show altogether) we can happily now give you a link to all the winners HERE and a gallery of pics HERE.
Special mention has to go to some of our own lovely ladies who took away some of the top prizes. Justina Kochansky won first prize for her piece of homemade jewellery which was then awarded the Silver Cup for the BEST EXHIBIT in the show. Gillian Rowe won the highly prized Rose Bowl for the highest number of points in the flowers and fruit and vegetable categories.
Other members who did very well include our knitting guru Pamela who won both first and second prize in the tea cosy category. The picture below shows why!
Sara Lawrence got first prize for her cupcakes. Jacqui James was a popular winner in the Dog Show after her gorgeous dog Humphrey (below) wowed the audience with his best trick.
The De Beauvoir Flower and Produce Show (and Dog Show) has been taking place every year since 1979 (at least).
This year, for the first time, WE are jointly organising the show with De Beauvoir Gardeners and this means that we need some help and volunteers. We are not only running the cake stall (domestic delights) but helping with all aspects of the show which is a really lovely annual event – a village style show in the heart of London. It celebrates this corner of Hackney’s growing, creative and dog owning communities and is promoted through local schools to encourage children to bake, draw, grow and make – we even have cup cake decorating on the day.
As well as the usual flower, produce, baking and preserve categories there are new (WI) craft entries as follows:
- For children – A glove puppet made from a sock
and for everyone:
- Greeting card in any medium (e.g. sewn, painting, collage, photograph, crafting)
- A floral tea or egg cosy, stitched, knitted or crocheted
- Homemade piece of jewellery (brooch, necklace, bracelet or ring) on a garden theme
To make this year a success we really need your help in lots of ways:
- Volunteers to help for a couple of hours on a stall.
- Volunteers to help with setting up or clearing up. This includes husbands and burley teenagers to help with the heavy work of setting up gazebos, carrying books and tables – either in the morning or at the end (or both).
- As many individual entries in all categories as possible (we are not doing WI group entries this year) again encourage neighbours, relatives and children to enter too. CLICK HERE to see all the categories so you can start planning your entries now.
- Contributions of nice items for the tombola (bring items to the August and September meetings).
- Whole cakes and savouries to sell on the day.
- Bring your dog along and consider entering the floral fancy dress category.
- Promote the show on facebook or twitter using the links on this page.
- Put a poster up.
We will have sign-up sheets and be available for questions at the August social where we will also distribute posters and leaflets for those who have already signed up for leaflet distribution.
If you didn’t make it to last Thursdays meeting you missed out on the delicious smells of lavender, frankincense, nutmeg, and immortelle. Jane Williams gave us an expansive talk about aromatherapy which started with the history of the art of using scent extracted from plants and spices and ended with members giving themselves a personally scented hand massage. We smelled fresh leaves gathered from Jane’s garden, compared varieties of lavender oils (always keep lavender oil handy for kitchen burns) and discovered how to use essential oils safely. We also learned about how Jane helps cancer patients at University College Hospital where aromatherapy is something that helps relaxation and relieves some of the cruel side effects of cancer treatment.
For those of you who want to buy some oils Jane recommends Neal’s Yard and her own favourite Oshadi.
Essential oils are extracted from plants and spices.
Thursday also saw the circulation of a host of sign-up sheets for the summers big fund-raising events. The first is this coming Saturday when we are running a cake stall at A Royal Knees-up party in Rosemary Gardens to celebrate the Queen‘s birthday. There will be an afternoon of fun for families including a dog show. We are still looking for cakes so email if you can bake, the WI will refund costs.
The knees-up is followed by another cake stall at Party in the Park on 9th July – again we are looking for bakers and helpers on the stall. Lastly (but this is the big one) – we have agreed to co-produce the Flower and Produce show in September alongside the de Beauvoir Gardeners. The show will be a great opportunity to raise our profile in the area as well as fundraise. We are looking for volunteers from members and their families to help make this community day better than ever.