Posts Tagged ‘Food’

Cakes and campaigning at Fair Trade event

March 5th, 2014

Plate of Welsh cakesFair Trade Fortnight was launched in Witney by WAFTAG with cakes, campaigning and a choir. The Fair Trade event, held at the High Street Methodist Church on Saturday, proved very popular.

Local children’s choir Songscope opened proceedings with a selection of upbeat songs. There were stalls selling a range of Fairtrade goods and a cake stall groaning under the weight of home-made cakes. The most unusual feature was the smoothie bike, blending smoothies using pedal power!

The campaigning focus of the day was the problem of cheap bananas. Many supermarkets are using bananas as “loss leaders”, offering them below cost price as a way of attracting customers to buy other goods. The price war between supermarkets has seen the retail cost of bananas halve in recent years, while the actual cost of producing them has doubled. This means that many banana farmers are living in poverty. The Stick With Foncho campaign asks Vince Cable as Business Secretary to investigate the impact such low pricing is having on farmers’ lives. 50 people at Saturday’s event signed postcards asking Vince Cable to do just that.

The campaign also aims to raise awareness of the real costs of cheap bananas and encourage consumers to buy Fairtrade. (If you want to be sure of buying Fairtrade bananas, the best supermarkets are Waitrose, Sainsburys and the Co-op, since these three do not sell any non-Fairtrade bananas.)

The event made just under £300 for WAFTAG, which will be spent on Fairtrade projects. To get a flavour of the day, you can watch the video on Witney TV.

Fairtrade Fair

February 17th, 2014

On Saturday 1 March it’s time to celebrate all things Fairtrade, with an event organised by Witney Fairtrade Action Group (WAFTAG). Come to the High Street Methodist Church from 2pm to 4:30pm for Fairtrade smoothies (made with pedal power!), cream teas, a children’s choir and stalls selling an exciting selection of Fairtrade goods.

The event is part of Fairtrade Fortnight, which runs from 24th February to 9th March. The theme of this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight is bananas, which are currently sold so cheaply that the people who grow them are trapped in poverty. Colombian banana farmer Foncho will be coming to the UK to ask our government to investigate unfair supermarket pricing. Visit the website to find out more and sign a petition supporting Foncho.

Feel free to print the Fairtrade goes bananas poster and display it in your window!


Raised-bed cooking: chard pie

July 21st, 2013

It started with a pallet. Sustainable Witney member J-P dismantled a wooden pallet into its component planks, then built a raised bed out of it . Then he turned it into a mini allotment and when you last heard from him in May, it was doing well.

I’m his wife and I’ve decided to blog about the fun bit: turning what we grow into tasty meals!

Picture of raised bed with greenery in it

Our raised bed in mid-June

By early June, the raised bed was a riot of green, with a lot of spinach and chard. (The picture of the bed was taken after I gathered enough for that evening’s meal.) Here’s my recipe for chard pie.

Pie base

100g grated carrot
100g wholemeal flour
100g oats
100g butter
Pinch of salt
Teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda


Chard (and spinach, if you like)
1 onion
A few garlic cloves
1 egg

What to do

Mix all these ingredients together until there aren’t any offensively dry or offensively buttery lumps. “Crumbing” with your fingers helps to get the texture right.

Then press the mixture into a lined, greased, baking tin, roughly 8 inches in diameter. Chill it for half an hour, or if you’re impatient, freeze it for ten minutes.

Then bake the pie base for about quarter of an hour at 200C.

Colander with green leaves in itIn the meantime, gather your chard. (You can easily add spinach to this too; nobody will notice.) I gather mine in a colander so I can wash it in the same container.

Chop and fry an onion and a few garlic cloves. Chop the green stuff. When the onion is going brown, add the chard (and spinach, if you like) to the mix.

Beat an egg and add it to the mix. Turn the heat off as soon as you add it and keep stirring. Add salt and pepper and keep stirring.

Put the mixture onto your pie base. Top with cheese – any cheese will do, really. Then put back in and bake for about half an hour at the same temperature. Then take out of the oven, leave to cool for ten minutes, remove from the tin and serve!

Chard and spinach pie on table


  • I didn’t create this recipe; it’s adapted from one I came across several years ago. If anyone knows the source, let me know so I can credit it.
  • Making and chilling the base is time-consuming, so I always double up on the quantities, make two bases and pop one in the freezer.
  • While the pie is in the oven you can (with any luck) go out to your raised bed again and get some lettuce for a salad to go with it!

The Green Cafe – Corn Exchange

May 10th, 2011

Cogges Volunteer Open Day

May 9th, 2011

The vegetable garden in April

April 26th, 2011

The soil is warming now, even our claggy Oxfordshire clay so, having dug the garden and spread the muck, it’s time to get serious about sowing vegetable seeds for a succession of fresh, crisp vegetables in the coming months. Here are some guidelines about what to do in your vegetable garden in April.

Broad bean seedling

» Read more: The vegetable garden in April

Rain at last! and other vegetable growing matters

July 15th, 2010

Carrot in July

Rain! We’ve finally had some rain. Every day, for weeks, I’ve been checking the forecasts. Mostly they’ve said ‘hot and dry’ and sometimes they’ve shown rain in three or four day’s time, but that’s where it’s stayed, until today when a gentle, soaking rain started in the early hours. The RHS reckons we are now five inches short of rain and that will take some making up, so don’t let up on the watering as the plants need all they can get. Give priority to plants in flower so they get what they need to form pods or fruit.

Watering late in the evening or early in the morning is best as this means the plants get what they need before the moisture evaporates. If you are troubled by slugs and snails, water in the morning so that the soil is dryer over night and less comfortable for them to slither across.

» Read more: Rain at last! and other vegetable growing matters

What to do in the vegetable garden in June

June 11th, 2010

Pea pod
Now that much of the vegetable planting and sowing has been done, there is a change from the planting frenzy of spring to that of constant weeding and watering. Although we had a lot of rain during the first part of June, brighter weather is in the forecast here and there so watering may be necessary. You can see the forecast for the rest of the month on the Met Office site.

The Meteo website also has a rain radar showing rain over the Witney and the UK, which is useful for planning gardening days and watering.

Vegetables to plant out

Artichokes, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, celeriac, Kohl rabi, leeks, lettuce, peas, potatoes, rhubarb.

Whilst peppers and tomatoes can be grown in the ground, I prefer to keep them in pots in case the weather changes and I need to bring them under cover. I made this decision after last year’s ‘barbecue summer’ forecast. Feeling optimistic, I planted out a lot of peppers and tomatoes only for the next six weeks to bring torrential rain. The peppers in the ground had little fruit and all the tomatoes in the ground got blight. Not getting caught out like that again!

» Read more: What to do in the vegetable garden in June

What to do in the vegetable garden in May

May 14th, 2010

April was a very dry month in Witney and I think we only had one or two showers for the whole month. A rain gauge is very useful in helping to judge how much to water as it measures the amount of rain that reaches soil level. Mine has remained dry for much of the past month, so I’ve been out watering more often than usual.

An empty rain gauge

There hasn’t been much rain this last month!

» Read more: What to do in the vegetable garden in May