Monday, June 13, 2011

Next year Potato Day plans

This year we raised over £760 from potato sales and our recipe book. We are now planning next year. I had a meeting with the Down to Earth Cooperative about a partnership to help celebrate Stroud Potato Day. Our provisional date is Saturday 4th February and things are looking good....

So who are Down to Earth?

Well the Co-operative was set up in late 2009, to support households in the Stroud area wanting to grow organic vegetables and fruit in their own gardens. The group provides a range of services from 1:1 training and/or advice (planning, trouble shooting etc), running gardening courses, preparation of growing areas including installing raised beds or removing turf or recovering overgrown areas, through to planting and sowing, weeding and feeding, protection from pests, harvesting and holiday cover. In addition to these services, Down to Earth has a 'Growing Communities Project', the aim of which is to take volunteers through nationally accredited training in growing food organically, and then supporting them in encouraging others to start growing.

They hope to start a new project later on this year, called 'The Fruit and Nut Tree Guardianship Scheme'.  Other plans in the pipeline include crop share schemes, which they are currently researching to find the most suitable option for those with spare growing areas.  If anyone would like to find out more about the co-operative, go to, email info(at), or call 01453 700011.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

GM: Sooner or Tater!

That was the headline from SchNEWS in their article about resistance to genetically engineered potatoes in this country. Amazingly Caroline Spelman has said they plan to be 'the most Pro-GM government yet'. Anyway here is their article:

On Sunday 30th May 400 anti-GM activists broke though police lines to decontaminate a field of genetically engineered potatoes in Wetterem, Belgium. The protest had been pre-announced by the group 'Field Liberation Movement', and 50 riot cops were surrounding the fenced off field ready and waiting. Despite this, 15 activists made it over the barbed wire using strips of carpet and uprooted a number of crops before being arrested.

Currently, commercial growing of genetically modified crops is banned in the UK, but that's set to change. Even though Genetic Modification has so far proved completely unsuccessful at increasing crop yields, the minister for Food and Environment Caroline Spelman announced that the coalition is committed to being 'the most Pro-GM government yet'. This is hardly surprising considering she was co-founder and director of  Spelman, Cormack and Associates - one of the lobbying companies that have spent the last ten years convincing us that we need GM food to solve the food crisis. Although she resigned as a company director before taking office, the firm remains in the hands of her husband, Mark Spelman.

There are two ongoing GM potato trials in the UK - one at Bramham, Tadcaster conducted by Leeds University and another at John Innes Centre, Norwich conducted by the The Sainsbury Laboratory. So, if you fancy picking some taters for yourself, you know where to go.

* For more info see