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The Land Grab Claim back public spaces

farm life Michaela Furney on herbs





Little Green Fingers

The HDRA get kids into the garden

ethical gardens

Ultimate guide to online shopping

give-away Prizes worth ÂŁ275


sven Knows Think! Deforestation Join the debate, save our forests

Veg of the Month

All you need to know about carrots

Allotment Project Come see our veggie patch

A Rural Icon

How to make a scarecrow

inside - real ways to improve your lifestyle


......................................................... CONTENTS PAGE

Any ENQUIRIES Sustained Magazine Victoria Chambers St. Runwald Street Colchester C01 1HF T. 01206 574147 E.


Our VISION Sustained has been published to inspire and encourage the British public to consider the environmental and social impact of living out their everyday lives. While we are a free publication, there will be a limited number of complimentary copies available in each area. We rely wholly on the continuing support of subscribers, advertisers and sponsors. This has been brought to you by The Creative Coop, a diverse group of freelance individuals and specialist in eco design and print solutions. Visit for more information.

The CONTRIBUTORS Natalie Kelly Jack Woodcock Paul Finbow Michaela Furney James Greene Julia King The HDRA Tracey Smith Ethical Junction David North

© 2007 The Creative Coop and Marc De'ath - Opinions that are expressed in Sustained Magazine are those of the individual writer and are not necessarily those of the Sustained team.

What’s Inside?




utside isn’t such a big bad place after all, but more of a vast expanse of opportunity that’s knocking on every single door in Great Britain. No excuses – whether it’s a high rise apartment or country estate you live in, there is always a way to celebrate and appreciate our fragile existence. Breathe life into a garden, a park or even a sunny windowsill, almost every square inch of our planet is a potential home for vegetation. A lazy life of convenience and a laid-back attitude has left us ignorant to knowledge that was once our heritage as human beings. So, we decided to bring the garden back. We wanted to demystify and unlock generations of secret knowledge, debate, discuss and share ideas, launching a new platform to put gardens firmly on the map. Not just a polite postage stamp of neatly trimmed lawn, but vegetable patches, wildlife reserves and functional spaces that encourage our ever growing need for biodiversity.

04 Allotment Project

We’ve gone and got a veggie patch.

“Almost every square inch of our planet is a potential home for vegetation.”

06 Farm Life

Michaela Furney’s very own herb guide.

10 What Sven Knows

Interview with Sven Wombwell.

14 Little Green Fingers

The HDRA help get the kids stuck in.

16 Rural Icon

Easy ways to create a scarecrow.

18 Think! Deforestation

Debate stimulus on saving our forests.

22 Vegetable of the Month We take a look at the carrot in detail.

26 Land Grab

Help us claim back your public spaces.


COMPETITION WORTH £275 Turn to p.08 for information

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08 24 25 28 30

Ethical Shopping Guide. Green Flavoured Families. Competition. Dandelion Award. The Sustained Directory.




1. Don’t be Competitive Do not teach your child to be competitive or snigger at others inferior veg, but do run a sunflower competition.

Allotment PROJECT

Feature: James Usher Illustration: James Greene

The sun is shining, the Archers is on the wireless, birds are singing and there’s that garden smell in the air – we’ve only gone and got an allotment!


hy grow your own food when you can so easily buy it? Why even entertain the idea when you could be spending your time doing so many other things? Cosy winters by the pub fire, spring bike rides in the park, summer lounging at the seaside and autumnal walks in the forest – they all beckon. Surely it’s best left to the experts? Those wise old owls, full with secret knowledge, like the farmers who really know what they are doing – after all it’s their job! As a nation, we work hard. It’s been claimed [like it’s something to be proud of ] that we work the longest hours in Europe. So, who can blame us when the last thing we want to do in our free time is dig a piece of mud, get dirty and plant something that you can buy in half the time from Mr. Tesco?


The problem is taking the easy option hasn’t got us very far. Our reliance on the supermarket has left us with a new generation of people who have no idea as to where their food comes from – let alone how it was made. No-one is saying that the way forward is for us all to become self-sufficient (no matter how nice the idea) and we’re certainly not cursing everyone who shops in a supermarket. However, growing our own food, no matter how small the amount, teaches us to appreciate what we buy and how it gets onto our plate. Today it’s all to easy to bung some of those pre-peeled Marks & Spencer’s roasties into the oven or stir in some of that convenient Lloyd Grossman sauce into our spaghetti bolognaise, without even the slightest consideration.

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6. Don’t be Impatient Sow your vegetables, but don’t become frustrated at the late appearance of seedlings or prod the ground to check they’re alive.

............................................... 2. Don’t be Lazy However, do use your allotment as a perfect excuse to escape a nagging spouse or partner.

3. Do Cook & Share Make sure you celebrate your achievements by preparing your prized crop for a shared meal.

4. Do Take Wisdom It’s to be accepted as much as passed on, particularly from those your senior.

5. Do be Proud Show off giant carrots, impressive onions, beastly beetroots and shiny new strawberries.

An allotment offers the opportunity to gain an insight into what makes good food, to partake in a community, to learn about this amazing world we live in and its fragile reliance on biodiversity. It’s true they are enjoying a renewed popularity. People of all ages, backgrounds and walks of life are beginning to catch the ‘grow your own’ bug. However, it’s a sad fact that many of us will go through the whole of our existence without attempting to even sow some watercress. What can we do about it? Get off our backsides and set an example. Sustained has got an allotment, without prior experience, no secret knowledge, or really the faintest idea of what we are doing. The Sustained allotment in its whole 200 sq. ft entirety is YOUR project for YOU. Over the coming months we will be learning from and sharing our mistakes, keeping track of and celebrating our success. The Sustained team want to build a community of people to grow with us, to exchange knowledge and encourage others.

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“An allotment offers the opportunity to gain an insight into what makes good food and to partake in a community.”

And it doesn’t stop there. Online we’ve launched Ask Finbow, your very own garden guru, who will give you jargon-free, no nonsense answers to all your questions. Plus, we’ll be writing Vegetable of the Month, so you’ll know what to grow and when to eat it. It’s an open forum so once we’ve started, it’s up to you! Tell us your failures, tips and your best recipes. When you’re not on your own, the idea of an allotment isn’t so daunting – register online today and watch the Sustained Community Allotment Project grow. Benefit from advice, discounts and inspiration. Let’s use the Internet to really put the community back into Great Britain. g


Firstly, show your support by visiting our website, and look up our allotment programme at Alternatively you can email us at:



Basil (ideal for pesto, pizza toppings and Italian recipes)

Parsley (great for fish dishes, soups and creamy sauces)

Rosemary (delicious cooked with lamb and roast spuds)

Sage (superb with fatty meats like pork or for use in stuffings)

Thyme (a welcome flavour to salads, breads and chicken)



FARM Life Michaela Furney of Jimmy’s Farm has converted a derelict cow yard into a herb garden. She shares her hints and tips. Feature: Michaela Furney Photography: Essex Pig Company and istock


he range of herbs can be somewhat daunting. You’ve got the greats such as rosemary, basil and thyme, commonly used in all those home dishes, but the evolution of the herb has been somewhat dramatic and we are now presented with a wonderfully diverse range. There’s some fascinating hybrids that not only set your taste buds alight but look the business in the garden. Windowsill Growing Windowsill herbs are an absolute delight, providing the home chef with a plentiful supply throughout the year. Traditional options veer heavily towards basil or parsley. Don’t even think about buying basil in a pot from the supermarket – the leaves generally end up going black around the edges and they wilt far too quickly. All you need is a packet of green/purple (Magical Michael) basil seeds, a little compost and some water. If you grow your own herbs in the environment in which they are going to stay, they will flourish. A slightly more adventurous kitchen windowsill option is coriander seedlings for the ultimate stir-fry.


The Patio Pot The hardy herbs that can grace a patio, terrace or balcony are abundant. Prostrate rosemary creeps elegantly down the side of a pot, providing powder-blue flowers in March/April. The aroma of lemon thyme on a summer’s evening is a delight and can complement your free-range chicken sizzling away in the oven or on the BBQ. Both are exceptionally easy to grow and need very little attention. But don’t be stuck with just these old boys. Try a blackcurrant sage, it’s very hardy, smells like heaven and has a very delicate bright pink flower which can be used in sorbets (or a gin and tonic!). Sorrel, too, is an excellent option. It’s tart flavour is superb with fish (mix it with a bit of mayo), but do watch those garden pests that can gnaw great holes out of the leaves. Edible Ornamental Borders The joy of walking around your garden (even the smallest ones) is knowing that not only will your friends be jealous that it looks so incredible, but you’ll be feeling smug knowing that you can eat pretty much all your hard work.

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Architectural, interesting growers are artichokes, angelica, bronze fennel, dwarf comfrey and tangerine sage – all come back year after year. Borage is beautiful with small azure flowers. These look great in ice cubes but, beware, it’s pretty invasive. Sage is a fantastic border plant, providing a splash of purple colour and an addition to stuffing. Top Tips Don’t over feed your herbs. I made the mistake of surrounding them with pig manure thinking they’d flourish. It was too rich and burnt them. Don’t be disappointed by failures. Some are out of your control; soil types and weather, for example. Even your kitchen sink growers might not like the steam from the tap so they may have to be moved. Just try again!

BEST HERB BOOK Jekka McVicar’s Complete Herb Book, £9.74 at BUY Unusual and exciting herBS Seeds of Italy – Speak to Paolo, he’s a gem!

Pruning Most herbs love to be left alone. However, a little trimming is an easy and great way to totally invigorate them, encouraging new growth. Growing From Seed If you’re a beginner don’t worry about growing from seed. Nurseries provide a range of herbs that can be planted directly into a pot or your garden. The reward in watching your efforts grow is not to be missed! Your addiction to herbs will grow faster than they do! Come to Jimmy’s Farm and see my vegetable garden. g



The ETHICAL Shopper We have searched high and low for all the latest additions and must-haves for every British garden. As always, everything is available to WIN! See page 25 for details. Recycled Bird Boxes | Witty and bright bird boxes created from recycled corrugated plastic signs. The first of many forthcoming creations, they cost from £15, at Ben’s Bird Boxes. T. 01843 862382.

Vintage Garden Tools | Forks, spades and much more, lovingly restored to their former glory. Unmistakeable quality, expect to pay from around £24.50, at Garden Antiquities. T. 01977 620006.

Eclipse Sprayer | A slim watering can made from hot dip galvanized steel and available in many shades, it’s also an ideal size for all you lady gardeners. It’s priced £27.95, at Haws. T. 0121 420 2494. Recelectic Lanterns | Made from waste and recycled aerosol and soda cans, which makes every one unique, they’re available in three sizes, priced from £18.25, at HomeArama. T. 0800 085 9054.


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Recycled Tyre Trug | It looks great, it’s tough, malleable and surprisingly light. Hand-sewn from an old tyre, you can use it for carrying weeds, potatoes and small children alike. It costs from around £24, at Hen & Hammock. T. 01844 217060.

Original Hand Tools | Dig like the royals with Duchy Originals’ selection of tools including straight-grained ash from Duchy of Cornwall estates in the UK. Certified to FSC standard, expect to pay £15 for a trowel, at Just Green. T. 01621 785088.

Pollinating Bee Log | Get a helping hand from our friends the solitary bees. With this as home they’ll soon be rushing around pollinating for you. It’s priced £15.25, at The Organic Garden Catalogue. T. 0845 130 1304.

Paper Potter | Ensuring minimal disturbance to your pocket and roots, this ingenious device enables you to turn strips of old newspaper into biodegradable planting pots. Each costs £9.95, at Ecoutlet. T. 020 7272 7233.

Reclaimed Slatted Bench | Made with pine roof purlins from an old army barracks, this bench will look great in any garden. Built to last, it’s finished in Danish oil and costs £250, at Trunk Reclaimed. T. 0191 491 4131. s u s ta i n e d m ag a z i n e . c o m




What SVEN knows Feature: Marc De’ath Photography: Sven Wombwell Garden Design

TV personality and garden designer Sven Wombwell talks exclusively to Sustained Magazine about all things outdoor and discusses his feelings on sustainability in the garden. Tell us what do you know about sustainability. Everything you do needs to be sustainable doesn’t it? In what I do, garden design, we’re looking for greener ways to improve. Can it be hard to determine who has a genuine interest? Yes, this whole thing with a carbon footprint, for example. It’s not really a long-term solution to our pollution problems. Personally, I think many of the things associated with sustainability is latching on to a fad, but also, at the same time, it’s a step in the right direction. Where’s your favourite garden? I have loads – I love Hemple Garden attached to the Hemple Hotel in London. It’s simple and I like that. I also enjoy The Lost Valley in The Gardens of Heligan, they’re incredible.


Tell us about your new method of garden design. It’s a general movement, not just me, which evaluates the time constraints on our lifestyles and, therefore, creates a garden that suits. People work longer hours and modern families don’t really have anyone who stays at home, so the garden has had to change to fit around what time you’ve got. Who inspired you into gardening? I used to have a patch on my Grandad’s allotment with my three brothers. Somehow mine always looked the best and I enjoyed it. I think it’s also living and working in London for eight years and getting sick of it. I’ve always been creative and loved being outdoors building stuff. I also liked drawing so garden design just seemed to make sense. Luckily it’s worked out fine.

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“Biodiversity is the new buzzword and wildlife gardening is very much in vogue.”

THE DAY JOB When Sven isn’t on our television screens he is working as a garden designer. Visit or email him at:


How do you encourage biodiversity and wildlife into the garden? Biodiversity is a new buzzword and wildlife gardening is very much in vogue, along with allotments and organic produce. The easiest way is to plant everything native, so, for example, if you grow a British ash, the birds are going to appreciate the fruits and insects that can live in the bark etc. Of course, the more land we build on the less space there is left for wildlife. But the gardens are not responsible for their demise. There’s around 12 million ponds in English gardens, all habitats for many creatures. These gardens can be a positive force in sustaining wildlife. What’s your favourite plant? Currently its Nadina Domestica (Heavenly Bamboo). It’s only a hardy evergreen, but the leaves change colour from green to a beautiful red.

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How would you encourage people to make the most of what outdoor space they have – is there a must-have for every garden? Probably an entertainment area, somewhere to enjoy your garden with family and friends. These are places to hang out rather than show off extensive flower collections. What’s the best gardening tool you own and why? Well the most fun is my chainsaw, but my favourite is my Grandad’s old spade ­– I love it. Also, a sharp knife, ‘your only as sharp as your blade’, as the great lofty wiseman once said. Will you be gracing our television screens any time soon? No, it’s a funny old time in the makeover world. programming has changed toward organic gardening and that’s not really my area of expertise. I am known as more of a garden designer than an allotmenteer – I have a couple of concepts I am producing at the moment though. We’re starting a campaign called the Sustained Land Grab to try and get more community outdoor spaces by working with disused plots of land. Any ideas? Absolutely!, ‘gorilla gardeners’, they’re great aren’t they – I’d say get in a group and hassle the council, they do have big annual budgets for outdoor spaces so if you believe somewhere could benefit then get something done about it.


Do developers who build these properties have a responsibility? Well most of them do a semi decent job of ‘greening up’ an area that is built up using trees and plants. But a public space can be so much more fun and exciting and they rarely do anything that is cool or innovative. It’s amazing how people are effected by their environment. A good outdoor space will allow more interaction and encourage stronger communities. What’s the most important gardening book in your collection? Right Plant, Right Place (by Nicola Ferguson and Frederick McGourty, £17.54 at It tells you where plants should go, which is vital. The biggest mistake we make is buying without any consideration as to the conditions a plant needs. We’ve just started an allotment project, any advice for us? Ha, I’ve been meaning to start my own plot for some time now. I think the best advice would be good soil, loads of horse manure and crop rotation. It’s so important that you allow the soil to replenish after the crops have drained it of nutrients in order to grow. Good luck! g

“A good outdoor space will allow more interaction and encourage stronger communities.” s u s ta i n e d m ag a z i n e . c o m



Little GREEN Fingers Feature: Lucy Halliday - Garden Organic (HDRA) Photography: Soupstock

Setting up small gardens with children can teach them about ways to grow and enjoy eating a range of vegetables.


ith spring well under way and the promise of new life everywhere, what could be more exciting than coxing life out of the ground with your own hands? Many children miss out on this joy, so here’s a few ways to get them started from Garden Organic, the UK’s largest organic growing and lifestyle charity. An easy place to start is with hanging baskets that are good enough to eat Whether you’re at school or home, these brighten up dull corners and can provide delicious vegetables. • Line a hanging basket with an old jumper or a moss made from wool or coir. Avoid the traditional versions made from Sphagnum moss, as collection of it is destroying natural habitats. • Fill with organic compost but not to the top, it will just wash away.


• Plant trailing, edible plants, like Pegasus strawberry or Heritage Seed Library ‘Whippersnapper’ tomato with nasturtiums or herbs. • Feed the soil regularly, generally around once a week, with an organic seaweed extract fertiliser. • Water your basket frequently and take the opportunity to look for pests or diseases and snip off any infested foliage.

“Whether you’re at school or home, these brighten up dull corners.”

• Regular deadheading helps to prolong the life of a hanging basket. Some other inspiration The Organic Gardening Catalogue has many unusual varieties. Purple peas, stripy tomatoes and yellow courgettes are just a few. Plus, Adopt A Veg and the Heritage Seed Library are both helping to save Britain’s traditional vegetables – all ideal for encouraging those little green fingers into the garden.

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INFORMATION: For details on organic growing, Adopt a Veg, the Heritage Seed Library, The Organic Gardening Catalogue or membership visit

Your child can chose a veg such as white carrots or crimson flowered broad beans to take care of. Or, why not become a member of Garden Organic and gain access to its three beautiful demonstration gardens in Warwickshire, Kent and Essex along with a wealth of information and advice based on nearly 50 years of researching and promoting organic gardening, farming and food. g

Recommended Read Grow Organic, Eat Organic by Lone Morton. Yummy recipes, hints and tips for budding gardeners and cooks alike. A well written and brilliantly illustrated practical activity book for children of all ages helping them to appreciate the natural world. Priced £5.45, it’s available at The Organic Garden Catalogue. T. 0845 130 1304.

Easy IDEA... You can join the Duchy Originals Garden Organic for Schools programme, and it’s FREE! Need to find intriguing new ways to encourage children to eat more vegetables? How about getting your local school to start their own organic vegetable garden? The school can benefit from the Duchy Originals Garden Organic for Schools programme. The nationwide scheme helps children of all ages grow vegetables at school and learn more about their food. By setting up small gardens in or near schools grounds, children can discover how food is produced and how it links with the countryside. The project also helps teach them how to enjoy eating a wide range of vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Joining the programme is completely FREE and you will receive practical organic gardening advice and ideas, free seeds, curriculum based resources, competition entry, activity sheets, a quarterly newsletter and access to For details visit and join online or call Garden Organic’s education section on 02476 308238.



Rural ICONS Photography: istock

The scarecrow has been a consistent part of rural Britain for many centuries. Find out how you can make your own...


ubject to myths, legends and even films, many of our villages still celebrate scarecrows, dedicating festivals, holding competitions and giving local heroes status to those who create the most elaborate figures. All very fun, but the practical use of the scarecrow is in decline. The British farmer has such a hectic lifestyle that they rarely have time to sit down, let alone erect something to scare off the pesky birds. Crows can be a problem on an acre field or small garden alike – nabbing all seeds and seedlings in sight. High tech equipment firing loud shots have proven far more effective, giving the kiss of death to this good old garden guardian. So, it’s up to us to keep the scarecrow alive. Time to rustle through all that old jumble, stuff it with straw, paint on a face and rescue that long serving servant of our countryside. Follow our basic instructions – be creative, embellish, adapt or do your own thing, take photographs and then publish them online at g


1. Making the frame Cut a ten foot bamboo pole in two, one piece four feet and other six feet. Place the shorter piece across the six foot piece, 12 inches down from the top to make a cross shape.

Prize up for grabs.... We want to see your creations so much that we’re offering a year’s subscription for the best overall submission.

3. Pulling your leg Pull one leg of a pair of trousers onto the longer pole. The other leg will hang freely. Tuck stuffed shirt into waist and secure with an old belt, then stuff pants with straw.

Log on or email your photos to


a good read 2. Puffing up the chest Wire together then place an old shirt on the short cross-piece and button up. Stuff the shirt loosely with straw. Place gloves at the end of the arms and secure with string.

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Kim Wilde shows the children how to make lively, colourful scarecrows, in her wordless instruction book, How To Make a Scarecrow, £2.85, at

4. Be head strong Make a head by stuffing a pillow case. Tie the pillowcase opening onto the top of the long stake with a rope. Draw a face, or sew on buttons for eyes and yarn a mouth.




Deforestation Feature: Jack Woodcock Photography Joseph Luoman

When you stop to ponder what’s happening to rainforests the first image to enter your head is probably of rusty JCBs hacking through some far off tropical forest, however there are many more factors depleting our stock of trees.



echnology has developed and the global population has swelled. The speed of this destruction has accelerated at an astounding rate. One study suggests that in the last 50 years we’ve torn down over a fifth of the world’s tropical rainforests. Quite a feat! The FAO (Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN) estimates that 90% of deforestation is caused not by big logging companies, but small-scale poor migratory farmers. It’s easy for us to look at the ‘ignorance’ of these people with a disapproving eye. In the West we’re definitely not ‘ignorant’ of our environmental responsibility. Music legend Sting has been reminding us to Save-the-Rainforest for over 20 years!


And it’s not just him; everyone’s talking green these days. Even international oil companies are joining the rush to tell us about their eco-credentials. In fact, issues first raised by the green protest movement now seem to be just about the only thing that everyone agrees on. Converting this shift in attitudes into actual, physical change still has a long way to go, but in some places progress is being made. The Brazilian government recently protected an area of forest 10,000 square miles bigger than Britain! In North America deforestation has been virtually halted and in Europe our forests are actually expanding. However, even though the developing world is the scene of most of the devastation, as

players in the global economy we still have a crucial role. Over the last ten years the huge increase in junk mail and the explosion in excessive packaging means that global demand for paper has rocketed. This has directly led to unsustainable logging in countries like Indonesia, where 1000’s of square miles of forests are lost every year. Recycling could have a massive impact on this yet, in Britain, we only recycle around 20% of our paper, one of the worst records in Europe. What’s more, despite persistent pressure from politicians, the government has so far refused to either incentivise recycling or restrict excessive product packaging (which now accounts for 17% of our grocery bill!).


“The crazy thing is that we throw away around a third of all the food that we buy!” Below: An Amazonian City beside the Jari project, which was set up to feed the growing demand for pulp for paper. Right: An orangutan one of the undeserving ‘victims’.



“Over the next two decades global demand for soy is set to rise by 20%. The implications this has for deforestation and habitat destruction are huge.” In Brazil, huge areas of forest are still cleared to make way for soy bean farming. The soy is then shipped to Europe, where it is used in food products and as animal feed on intensive farms. The crazy thing is that we throw away around a third of all the food we buy! If we were less wasteful or made efforts to buy meat from farms that use feed from sustainable resources we could have a huge impact on deforestation. The fact is every day six billion people wake up with material needs, the majority of which aren’t met nearly as well as yours and mine. Until that situation changes people will always try to better their situation, even if it involves exploiting natural resources and selling them to richer nations. As Thoreau once wrote ‘We have found the enemy and he is us’. Soy & South America Over the next two decades global demand for soy is set to rise by 20%. The implications this has for deforestation and habitat destruction is huge. In recent years, South America has found itself on the front line of soy expansion. With development of new, hardier strains, soy farming


has begun a rapid advance into the Amazon, home to over 20 million people. Between 1995 and 2004 the area of soy plantations under the plough has rocketed by 77% with production, more than 200 million tonnes a year. As a result of this, each year around 26,000 square kilometres of rainforest are lost. The pattern is quite simple. Prospectors from richer regions move in to rural areas where they buy up land from local communities and convert it into vast, unsustainable plantations. The soy is then exported via huge international ports like the one built by Cargill at Santarem in Northern Brazil. Cargill is the largest private agricultural company in the world and the principle organisation developing farming in the Amazon. Last year, in the luxury of a Buenos Aires hotel, Cargill were represented at the first Round Table Discussion on Responsible Soy. The goal of the group; to create a ‘responsible soy’ brand, produced to criteria set by the group itself. In a greenwashing exercise this plan will eventually see ‘responsible’ or ‘green’ labels on soy products on our supermarket shelves. g

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“As a result of this, each year around 26,000 square kilometres of rainforest are lost”

USEFUL INFO g Rainforest Foundation g Rainforest Concern g Greenpeace

DEBATE Want to have your say on deforestation? Email us at:





Feature: Paul Finbow Photography: istock

The carrot (Daucus carota) belongs to the umbel family which includes the parsnip and the parsleys. Here’s a definitive guide to growing your own...


biennial vegetable, the carrot, if left in the earth over winter, will flower the following summer producing delightfully complex white flower heads. Its taproot (a main root descending downward from the radicle and giving off small lateral roots) is one of our body’s principal sources of carotene, which is a precursor of vitamins A and D, eye pigments and many biochemical reactions in the body. It’s also rich in nutritious sugars, dietary fibre, antioxidants and minerals. History The European wild carrot, also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, has been eaten since prehistoric times and is one of the few truly local vegetables on our plates. When cooked, the white taproot turns to a tasteless, stringy, grey-coloured mess, although, when raw, it has an unmistakably carroty smell.


However, the Asian wild carrot is purple in colour and has been selectively bred for over a 1000 years in Afghanistan. When these varieties appeared in the Netherlands from the 15th century onwards, they were crossbred with local varieties to produce our modern carrot-toned cultivars. The Dutch royal family adopted the carrot as its family colour, hence their House of Orange. In the past, the foliage was also used in salads, stocks and stews. Cultivation Carrots like a rich loam soil (a relatively equal mixture of sand and silt and a somewhat smaller proportion of clay) with few stones. When grown in stony soil the taproot is likely to branch, often producing interesting shapes that can be exhibited at horticultural shows. However, if you do live on stony land, don’t give up as they taste just as good.

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“If you were pleased with your carrots, try to leave a dozen or so over winter to flower and then collect the seeds.” • Prepare the soil by thoroughly weeding and digging in a bit of compost. Not too much though, unless you want to grow giants, they’re not greedy. Rake the soil to get a fine tilth – the best is neither too moist nor too dry, so pick the right day to sow. There are two different methods of sowing carrots: (a) plant the seed in neat rows and (b) broadcasting. (a) To make a straight row, a garden line is essential and all that is necessary to do is to trace a v-shaped trench along the string to a depth of about 1.5cm. You then proceed to sow the seed at a regular rate along the length with, ideally, about 5cm between the seeds. Nothing is critical and, if you over sow, plants can be thinned out later when they get to an edible size. This method is best for main crop, summer planted varieties and needs regular weeding. (b) Broadcasting can be described as the ‘biblical method’ of sowing. The technique involves producing a smooth, fine tilth and simply scattering the seed evenly over the surface, around 10 to 15 per 100cm2, even denser with more compost. Then gently rake into the soil. This is best for spring-sown, early salad carrots.

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Once the seedlings have sprouted, it’s nigh on impossible to weed. The density of the foliage will suppress most small weeds. • Carrots can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to eat, little finger-size is ideal for salad carrots. They have more taste the younger you pulled and are best eaten the day of harvest; they quickly turn rubbery. Main crop carrots can be left in the soil in winter until needed although, if a cold spell is forecast, it’s wise to lift them and store in a cool, dry place indoors. Once the soil has frozen, they are unharvestable. The longer carrots stay in the soil the ‘woodier’ they become. Freezing them is not great. You can sterilise them in jars but the best preservation method is juicing, if you have the gadgets. • If you were pleased with your carrots, try to leave a dozen over winter to flower (anything up to a meter in height and very pretty) and then collect the seeds. It doesn’t stop here: This Vegetable of the Month is continued online, with information on pests, diseases, varieties and recipes. It’s an open forum and if you can’t find what you’re looking for, Ask Finbow,






Our very own family correspondent and Great Britain’s leading downshifting expert, Tracey Smith tackles your questions as part of our online Green Flavoured Family programme.





Following a cancer scare, I have drastically changed my eating habits. I’d like to grow easy things to supplement my diet but I’ve never done so before. I have a small garden with a few raised beds. Any advice? Certainly. Garlic and onions are powerful allies in the fight against cancer and any veg with high levels of vitamin C will help. Garlic couldn’t be simpler. It’s generally planted out in October. Simply break your bulb apart into single cloves and plant each one pointed bits up. Space six inches apart and two inches down, with a nice smattering of compost on top. They’ll be ready in the spring. On the onion front, how about starting with a few salad ones? Spring onions are tender and full of flavour. Sewn in April, they could be ready for May/June if the weather is kind. Cover your patch with netting as the birds often sniff about looking for worms.


My two children and I live in a flat and have no garden or community area, but we do have a very sunny balcony. We’d like to grow some soft fruit in pots – is this going to be possible? Any suggestions as to where to start? It’s great to encourage children into understanding the cycle of food. How about growing strawberries in containers? Planting them out in the spring could bear fruit by July. They like the sunshine but welcome a little shade and don’t like to sit in too much water, so keep it nice and even. Give them a good start with organic compost. It’s an idea to place netting around plants to protect them from all those determined little ‘predators’! Take a look at the BBC’s advice on, which has invaluable information on lots of other pot grown fruit and vegetables which will be perfect for you to steal.

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Ask Away! We want to hear your questions and have launched a new Green Flavoured Family Q&A system on our website,

/greenfamilies or email your questions to tracey at:


I’d like to do a simple growing project with my kids this holiday. I’m not green fingered and I don’t have any gardening tools. Can you help with an inexpensive suggestion?


How about an upside-down tomato plant? Sounds bizarre, but this is a really simple thing to do and the kids will love it! Get a large, plastic milk container, wash it, then turn upside down and cut the bottom off. Make four holes and thread strong string (or shoelaces) through and tie big knots, leaving the string long enough so you can hang the bottle. Fill it with organic compost and pack it down with your fingers, so you have the pouring end on the bottom. Lay the bottle on its side and use a pencil to make a deep hole. Push in a tomato plant seedling and pack it down gently but firmly to hold it in place. You could put a little moss around the bottle hole to help keep the soil in, but don’t worry too much, not a great deal will fall out. You now have an upside-down hanging basket tomato planter! No trouble from slugs or snails and it’s a giggle to watch it grow. g

DOWNSHIFTING Tracey is Great Britain’s leading downshifting expert. Find out more at


For further inspiration, check out the schools section of the HDRA website and you’ll find stacks of organic ideas for the young ones.

............................................................................. COMPETITION


GIVE -AWAY We’ve one of every item on our products page to give away. To enter all you have to do is state which product you’d like to win and answer the question below: Exactly what can you win Vintage Garden Tools - Garden Antiquities; Recycled Bird Box - Ben’s Bird Boxes; Eclipse Sprayer - Hawes; Recelectic Lanterns - Homearama; Recycled Tyre Trug - Hen & Hammock; Original Hand Tools - Just Green; Reclaimed Slatted Bench - Trunk Reclaimed; Paper Potter - Ecoutlet; Bee Log - The Organic Garden Catalogue. See page 08-09 for product information.

Sustained Magazine Garden Products GIVE-AWAY Answer the question, fill out your details and send this coupon to: SUSTAINED MAGAZINE, Victoria Chambers, St Runwald Street, Colchester, Essex CO1 1HF Simply answer the following questions: Which ONE product would you like to win? .................................................... Which part of the UK will you find the Eden Project situated in?

All possible information must be provided for a valid entry: Mr Mrs Miss Other .................................................... First Name ................................... Surname ................................ Address ........................................................................................ .................................................................................................... ........................................... Postcode ........................................... DOB (dd/mm/yy) ......................................................................... Telephone Number ....................................................................... Email ........................................................................................ Tick here if you do not want information to be passed to prize providers

Terms and Conditions of Entry: The Competition is open to anyone over the age of 18, one entry per household only, No entries accepted from anyone connected to any of the companies involved. Responsibility will not be accepted for any entries lost or delayed. No cash alternative. The winner will be the first correct entry drawn at random after the closing date of August 31st 2007 and will be notified shortly afterwards. Sustained or The Creative Coop cannot be held responsible in the event a company supplying any prize cannot honour its obligation, for whatever reason.

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Land GRAB Feature: Julia King Illustration: istock

Does a meadow full of butterflies, poppies and the buzz of bees among tall grass conjure up pictures of the past?


t should, because meadow land is on the decrease. Britain has lost an astonishing 97% of it since 1945 and has suffered a dramatic decline in many species of birds, insects, wildlife and a whole range of plant and pond life. Every year, some 11 million sq. m. of rural land is urbanised. Government plans to construct 1.2 million new suburban homes within England alone have now been seen to be underestimated and, according to official figures, it’s already allowing 2500 acres of green-belt to be built over each year.


Even gardens can be designated as ‘brownfield’ sites and predictions are that enough of these private and treasured spaces to cover 2755 football pitches would be ‘developed’ by the year 2016. So, what can be done to intersperse the spread of this concrete jungle and to return to a land rich in biodiversity*? ( *The variety of living things in a particular area, important because plant and animal species interact, depending upon one another for food, shelter, oxygen and soil enrichment.)

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“Government plans to construct 1.2 million new suburban homes within England.”

Those fortunate enough to have a garden could convert an area into something less formal. The recent explosion of trendy gardening programmes, advocating no-plant spaces of shingle and decking, perfect lawns or non-native planting, all discourage the rich diversity of invertebrates, lichens and fungi. However, books and websites explaining how to create a wildlife garden are in abundance. You could join an established group, such as BTCV (British Trust for Conservation Volunteers) whose mission is ‘to create a more sustainable future by inspiring people and improving places’. You can also manage your own project. A piece of ‘wasteland’ near you will rarely be forgotten and may well have an owner battling for planning permission to build. On the other hand, it may belong to an organisation who would love to have it transformed, especially at someone else’s expense.


Ask questions, gather up like-minded folk and then search around because there are often grants available and organisations on hand to help nurture your plans, such as Living Spaces, GreenSpace and Groundwork. Turning this ‘waste’ space into the most beautiful meadow land doesn’t require trips to garden centres. Wild flowers thrive in poorer soils whereas rich soil encourages excessive vigour in grasses. In fact, some of the most biodiverse areas are ones which have been left to do their own thing. Swathes of foxgloves cover untouched railways; buddleias sprout out of abandoned cars and where buildings are left demolished natures takes over. Which begs the question: can’t biodiversity look after itself? Ken Livingstone’s Biodiversity Strategy for the city of London claims that “…meadows must also be looked after in the right way.

For example, they will gradually fill up with bushes if the grass is never cut, and many wild flowers will saved from dying out.” Sadly, what’s more obvious is land that looks neglected can become abused; fly tipping, vandalism and arson can soon out weigh any art of a fallen tree wrought with ivy. So, where green spaces are few, surely a group of people, young and old, can gain a sense of pride and community when co-joined to work hard to revive a former eyesore. A haven for wildlife, they will encourage frogs, butterflies and bees to arrive. g


“Gather up like-minded folk and then search around.”

further advice

Share land-grabbing tips and ideas at our online forum or email us at:


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BACK to EDEN Feature: David North Illustration: Aleksandar Velasevic

What would you expect to find inside the gates of Eden? Plants, pleasure and knowledge, of course. We review Dandelion Award-winner, the Eden Project.


n this age of super technology and hyper artifice, it’s all too easy to forget the fundamental role played by the humble plant in our lives. Medicines, tools, clothes, heat, light, food, houses, transport, furniture, containers, utensils, rope, dye and so much more have been derived from the plant kingdom. For their extraordinary efforts in reminding us of this crucial relationship, the Eden Project in Cornwall is this issue’s Dandelion Award winner. At the simplest of levels, Eden is a botanical garden though, even for just that, it’s exceptional, maintaining one of the world’s largest collections of plants. Its distinctive giant biomes contain 1000’s of species from the globe’s hotter, more humid climates, whilst the whole project houses more than a million plants, representing 5000 species, with new ones being added all the time.


However, to say that Eden is just a botanical garden would be a gross misrepresentation. Its mission statement clearly sets out the goal; ‘to promote the understanding and responsible management of the vital relationship between plants, people and resources leading to a sustainable future for all.’ Since opening their doors to the public in 2001, they have worked vigorously and creatively to fulfil this mission, making it a major attraction to around seven million visitors so far. Recognising that people learn best when relaxed, the Eden team has created a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable experience. Information points and artistic installations are scattered throughout the site and there are also workshops and special events, like the recent ‘Sexy Green Car Show’, that inform people about environmental issues and the huge influence of plants in their lives.

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“Promoting responsible management of the vital relationship between plants and people.”

NOMINATE! Know of a business pushing the benchmark for sustainable practice? You can now nominated them on our website or email our judges at


Though all this may make Eden sound very academic and worthy, it is, in fact, almost too hip to be real. The Independent voted it the best outside live venue and this year’s ‘Eden Sessions’ line-up includes James Morrison, Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen, amongst others. More than just a botanical garden and green theme park, however, Eden has become a hugely influential source of knowledge for the scientific community and for companies, organisations and policy makers with an interest in sustainable development. Because of this it’s fast becoming a major international centre for the advancement of science, society and sustainability and well deserves this award. g

MORE INFORMATION: To find out more about Eden you can call 01726 811911 or visit




A brief guide to those brands who have nothing to hide:



T. 024 7630 3517.

Our good friends at Ethical Junction have chosen ten great gardening shops for you all to try. E T H I C A L i d ea s f o r A L L Y O U R G A RD E N G E A R

01. Ben’s Bird Boxes T. 01843 862382. HHHHH An interesting, well designed product, apparently the first of many.

06. Garden Antiquities T. 01977 620006. Specialist in garden antiques and agricultural memorabilia.

02. Organic Gardening Catalogue T. 0845 130 1304. Organic seeds and gardening gifts for all you friendly gardeners.

07. Used2bee T. 01803 607009. Brand new products from exciting, reclaimed materials.

03. Green Books T. 01803 863260. HHHHH From organic gardening to self build, something for every palette.

08. Haws T. 0121 420 2494. British made watering cans available in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

04. Ecoutlet T. 020 7272 7233. HHHHH They’ve got all things eco, so don’t miss this great place – a must visit!

09. Hen & Hammock T. 01844 217060. HHHHH Objects to make your garden a better, cleaner, more beautiful place.

05. Just Green T. 01621 785088. Caring for the environment and enhancing it through biological means.

10. Alexander Rose T. 01444 258928. Furniture made in a Ghanaian village from a sustainably run community.


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We love the web so here’s the best sites to surf Nice Ethics Dude

T. 0117 314 5000.

T. 0845 345 0728.

Oh So Cool

T. 01536 266576.

Useful Info Man

T. 020 8831 6800.

Lists in association with

for people for birds for ever

T. 01767 680551.

Sustained Issue 004 - Garden Special  

Outside isn’t such a big bad place after all, but more of a vast expanse of opportunity that’s knocking on every single door in Great Britai...

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