My university background is in urban sustainability: how can we achieve more resilient and sustainable cities? We haven’t figured that one out just yet… still working on it. So sometimes I feel the need to visit places where sustainable living is already happening. Newbold is perfect, since the people here are trying to implement concretely and actually live what I’ve studied as conceptual sustainability. I am volunteering at Newbold for a few weeks as a residential HelpX volunteer (Newbold HelpX Page) , diving into the daily routine and experiencing a new lifestyle.
Right from the start, I’ve been impressed by how food here is grown: in a stunningly beautiful and traditional walled garden. The kitchen’s aim is to use as many seasonal and regional ingredients as possible, preparing, processing, and preserving organic food – whatever is not eaten right away. The approach is to make the best use of available resources, i.e. delicious vegetables and herbs from the garden, and to obtain additional food from organic farms in the local area. That includes fish and meat, eaten once a week, which are ethically sourced, and happy chickens to provide eggs.
I was interested to find here an incredible amount of knowledge connected to seasonal and regional food. I am grateful to Christopher who led a class about re-discovering needed food-related skills. Christopher has been baking his own bread for 30 years, and during his skillshare we baked 12 loaves of crusty wholemeal bread – which does not last long in a community like Newbold…
And it is learning by doing! Meaning by eating, tasting, strolling around the garden, and discovering all the vegetables I didn’t have a clue existed!
For instance, there is not just mint. There is apple mint, peppermint, spearmint and even chocolate mint! I don’t have enough room to tell you about the whole family of cabbages available… If you want to get to know the gardens around here, one perfect opportunity is the Garden Tasters on Saturday mornings (www.newboldtrust.org/garden-tasters-2016)
Another related series is the food preservation on Tuesday mornings. What kind of preservation methods are out there? How do we avoid ending up with only pickled vegetables in the winter? I learned about canning, drying, and freezing; about questioning common eating patterns and developing new ways; about maximizing our use of the surrounding abundance. This can include very practical issues: like cleaning the outdoor kitchen, looking around for space to hang drying herbs and discussing which products get priority when it comes to the hotly contested freezer space.
So far it has been an amazing experience and I am looking forward to the next couple of weeks.
By Kerstin Walz
Kerstin is a social scientist from Hamburg, Germany. She enjoys reading, acrylic painting, and swimming. While she has travelled to five of seven continents, this is her first HelpX position, and her 2nd time in Scotland. She grew up with a huge garden, needed 10 years away to appreciate it, and is now looking forward to having her own garden someday.
To find out more about Newbold Trust and our commitment to sustainability visit www.newboldtrust.org
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