Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Hello! This is the official newsletter of Manchester Urban Diggers.
We hope that this newsletter offers you a chance to slow down for 15 minutes as you learn about all of the great things we have been doing and have coming up for our community. We have even curated a music mix in this newsletter that you can listen to as you read through.
We are looking forward to connecting with you through this newsletter and we hope that it offers you an insight into what we do here at MUD and opportunities to get involved with.
Follow us on Instagram @mud_cic and @plattfields_marketgarden for regular updates on what we get up to in our gardens.
A Natural Pace - A Music Mix
Welcome to our new music mix segment A Natural Pace, these mixes are crafted for you to listen to whilst being in nature. This is the first of what will be a monthly mix curated by Lulu for you to listen to whilst you are in nature. Here are some words from Lulu on how she recommends you listen to the music:
Step outside, put your headphones on, take a walk in the park, explore some woods or just sit in your garden.
Close your eyes, what can you smell? The clipped grass, soft damp wood, a fragrant flower, a small scent on the breeze gently entering your space.
Open your eyes, how does the music soundtrack what you can see? Are you an explorer in a new world? Perhaps you have witnessed something monumental, a bee dancing, a leaf dancing, or maybe a stranger dancing. Is there movement? Has it synchronized with the music? Is nature connecting with your state, a hum, a deep purr.
The birds and the plants take a peek at you, listen to them as they are far wiser than we will ever be. Take a deep breath and let your thoughts drift into memories, moments, imagined worlds.
Words and mix curated by Lulu.
The East Manchester Academy (TEMA)
A couple of weeks ago, we finally commenced work on our brand new community garden project with The East Manchester Academy (TEMA). The plans have been in the works for quite a while now so it is really exciting for us to finally get going with it.
The garden is funded by The East Manchester Academy and it is intended to be used by the students and eventually the wider community in Beswick and East Manchester.
We will be running gardening enrichment classes, intervention sessions and gardening after school clubs. The plan is to grow lots of vegetables, herbs, fruit, flowers and trees and to construct a shed, composting bays, benches and a mega poly tunnel with all the bells and whistles. And hopefully, a roundhouse that can be used for workshops and lessons.
So far, we have built compost bays, marked out the polytunnel, shed and greenhouse bases and built up a little seating area with the excess turf. And after what has been a very Mancunian February, with all the rain and storms, we discovered that the soil is waterlogged and underneath the top soil, it is extremely compacted. Therefore, our plan is to dig a pond for drainage and add trees to soak up the water as much as possible. Thankfully, we are doing no-dig beds to build up depth of bed rather than digging down into the compacted ground.
The Dean Trust Ardwick
This month we commenced work on our project with The Dean Trust Ardwick, a high school in South Manchester, where we worked with the students to build a community garden space.
The students were involved in every step of the process, from planning and designing to building and planting in it. They were super proud of the outcome of the garden and they were passionate about how they were going to keep on making it better and maintaining it.
MUD KITCHEN CATERING
We are delighted to be offering a catering service for events, workshops, workdays and parties. Whether in your own venue or at Platt Fields Market Garden, our chefs Meg and Iman can provide a variety of catering options from coffee and cakes to buffets and seated lunches for up to 50 people.
We aim to be a sustainable and ethical kitchen, and all waste is composted where possible which feeds our own soil and plants. We use as much produce from the garden as we can, and the rest is sourced from farms through Organic North Wholesalers and local suppliers like Albert Street Bakery.
Please email email@example.com for more information.
“We love coming to Platt Fields Market Garden to enjoy their community space, the friendly atmosphere and the delicious food. The cakes are made to fit dietary requirements and are DELICIOUS. The soup is hearty and the catering is top notch. Platt Fields created a safe and cosy space for us to meet up over lockdown when other venues were closed and for that we are really grateful and will definitely keep coming back.”
- MCR Cares
Weekends at Platt Fields Market Garden (PFMG)
Throughout March, our Platt Fields Market Garden will be open Saturdays 9am-3pm.
On Saturdays 9am-3pm, our @plattfields_marketgarden is open to the public for veg box collection, MUD Shop and our MUD Kitchen. We will be continuing to cook up some incredibly tasty meals from Meg and Iman, our two incredible in-house chefs. We will be posting the weekly menu's on our PFMG Instagram page (@plattfields_marketgarden), so make sure to give us a follow so you don't miss out on our tasty food inspo.
We also have our resident hot drinks truck, Grounded Coffee (@groundedmcr), who have been braving the storms and keeping us warm throughout the January and February with their delicious selection of hot beverages. They also have a variety of tasty cakes, cookies and other goodies to treat yourself to at the start of the weekend.
Let's Get Muddy! - Kids Workshops For All Ages
After a very successful trial run of our Saturday mornings kids workshops, we have decided that we will be continuing them throughout March. We want to say a huge thank you to all of the families who have turned out on your days off to play hide and seek, make a village for all of our bugs and creatures that live in the garden, craft finger puppets, dance, laugh and make memories with your little ones. All of this, despite the wet and windy Manchester weather!
It has been really lovely for us to see how you have all connected with your children in our garden and also watched as both you and your little ones have made new friendships and so we are very excited to keep these sessions going.
Seed Swap - Sunday 13th March - 9am - 3pm
We are excited to invite you to the garden on Sunday 13th March for our annual SEED SWAP. All seeds, seedlings and cuttings welcome. We ask that you only take what you need. There will be lots of people around all day that will be able to give you advice on what to do with the seeds.
A conversation about The Hungry Gap with Cinderwood Market Garden - Instagram Live - Wednesday 16th March - Online Event - 5pm
Join Annie (Manchester Urban Diggers) and Michael (Cinderwood Market Garden) as they discuss The Hungry Gap, what it is, how farmers overcome the struggles of it each year and why people aren't aware of it. Learn with us about how we can work together to create a food system that benefits communities and the environment.
The event will take place on Instagram Live at 5pm on Wednesday 16th March.
Spring Fair - Sunday 20th March - 9am - 5pm
We are welcoming Spring and the new growing season into our garden on Sunday 20th March.
Join us for a day of food, family friendly games on the green and fun workshops hosted by the Platt Fields Market Garden.
Get Involved - Volunteering and Opportunities
Volunteering with MUD has started back slowly in January but we have a lot of exciting opportunities on the horizon. Building on the successes of last year's programmes, we are hoping to increase our offering across all of our projects. We are currently working on the new Volunteer Handbook and updating all of our policies and garden Welcome Packs, which will be available on the website when completed.
For now, please join our website Gardening Groups for regular updates about the projects: https://www.wearemud.org/volunteer
An easy-to-follow sign up tutorial video can be found here:
Here is a quick look at what’s coming up and information on how to get involved:
Platt Fields Market Garden
Open volunteering will be taking place every Friday, 10am-4pm, where you can come and get a taste of what goes on at MUD. It’s a relaxed session with a range of gardening opportunities. The sessions are mainly coordinated by Dan but sometimes Nerissa or Mike. Lunch will be provided by Meg in the MUD Kitchen.
Bahary Kurdi (Kurdish Spring)
Beginning Tuesday 8th March Nerissa will be running our Bahary Kurdi programme at Platt Fields Market Garden working with the local Kurdish community to create a dedicated garden for growing and cooking locally-grown and culturally appropriate food. Our chef Iman will be cooking a catered lunch each week using produce from the garden. The 12-week Spring programme is every Tuesday 10:30AM-4:30PM from Tuesday 8th March to Tuesday 24th May. The 12-week Summer programme is every Tuesday 10:30AM-4:30AM from Tuesday 21st June to Tuesday 6th September. Please share with anyone you think may be interested in this programme asking them to email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign-up.
Our new Community Compost scheme starts this Spring and we’re looking to recruit some volunteers as Compost Champions. If you are interested in volunteering for this program please see the flier below and contact email@example.com with an expression of interest if you would like to help out with construction of the system and running composting workshops as well as regular maintenance of the system. Induction days TBC.
Nature for Health
Our second Nature for Health program will be running from April this year. We’re looking for volunteers to assist with sessions and support participants on the program. If you have any background in mental health work or are interested in experience in green prescribing this is the perfect role for you. If you are interested in volunteering for this program please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Open Volunteering at Mona Street near Salford Precinct is on every Thursday, 1-3pm. The session is coordinated by Sam.
Open Volunteering at Pankhurst Plot, Chorlton Park is every Monday 10am - 4pm and Thursdays 1pm - 4pm. The sessions are coordinated by Lulu.
Open Volunteering at The Landing, Stockport is every Friday, 10am-4pm. The sessions are coordinated by the Head Grower, Nick. Please text Mike on 07538860488 to be added to The Landing WhatsApp group that Nick updates weekly with session details.
Cinderwood Market Garden
We have an exciting opportunity for volunteers to take part in a 12 week practical volunteering course at Cinderwood Market Garden in Cheshire. Volunteers will be provided with transport to the site (maximum of 5, if you can make your own way there please let us know), lunch and hands-on experience at a commercial market garden providing produce to some of the best restaurants in the North West. Participants must commit to the full 12 weeks. Start date is the 21st March and every Wednesday following for 12 weeks. Please email email@example.com for more info and join our gardening group on the website for updates.
One Manchester Volunteering Programme
Beginning on Thursday 17th March Nerissa will be running a 32-week volunteering programme following a full growing season at Platt Fields Market Garden. The sessions will be every Thursday from 10:00AM - 4:00PM with a catered lunch cooked up by Meg using produce grown at the garden.
The programme will cover a range of subjects, skills and practices related to the activities of the market garden and to food production including horticultural skills (with a focus on edible, culturally diverse crops), garden design, development and management, and (wood)craft and forestry skills.
The idea of the group is to support those experiencing isolation to access the health and wellbeing benefits of gardening, to feel safe in and better connected to the local community, whilst addressing the adverse effects of Covid-19 on social cohesion, confidence, and mental and physical wellbeing.
You can sign-up to the programme using this link: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1EhKUh3d_qnFHv1afmiKXrWSL054lqde4im_tvKg1E4I/edit
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions
Before signing-up to any of our programmes, make sure you are registered to volunteer with us. You can do this via our website: https://www.wearemud.org/volunteer
Here’s a handy YouTube video of the sign-up process:
Dishin' The Dirt
We want to showcase some of the incredible things that are going on around Greater Manchester that are good for our health, the environment and our minds. Dishin' The Dirt will serve you some of the sustainable things happening around the city that are working towards our shared goal of healthy mind, body and planet.
Save Me A Seat - Switch_MCR Theatre Company - A Global Majority Festival
Save me a Seat is a chance to celebrate the work of Female and Non-Binary artists from the Global Majority, an opportunity to connect with and uplift voices and an invitation to everyone to have a seat at the table.
The event will present a talented line-up of dynamic artists, performers, activists and culinary champions that will be taking a seat at 53two. Switch are overjoyed to be welcoming a plethora of talent, including DJ, Activist and the first intersex and non-binary actor on a British Soap Ki Griffin; the delicious Gwafuvegan who will be bringing vegan West African food to nourish our souls on Sunday; Zimbabwean-born Mancunian rapper, poet and BBCThree's The Rap Game contestant MEDUULLA; multitalented connector, space-maker, disruptor, actress, writer and workshop leader Vera Chok; and many more!
Booking for this event goes live on Saturday 26th February.
Laid Bear Kombucha
Earlier this month we were visited by LAID BEAR, a kombucha brewery based in the heart of Manchester. They generously gifted their used tea and SCOBY to our garden to help provide all the good stuff that's residing in these by-products including potassium, phosphorus and nitrogen which can help counterbalance any carbon-rich materials in compost. Not only that, their SCOBY will help speed up the decomposition process and boost the nutritional value of compost.
They currently brew 3 flavours of award winning booch; Original, Lime & Mint and Ginger.
A message from the founder of Laid Bear, Steph:
“Look out for more seasonal flavours coming soon where we hope to be collaborating with the team at Platt Fields - it’s so cool to be using herbs and produce that might have grown in soil that was fertilized by our very own used tea leaves and our Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast - SCOBY's! Full circle baby.
At Laid Bear we only use cold pressed juice to flavour our kombucha, we brew in small batches to stay true to the authentic brewing process, and we bottle, label and cap by hand. You could say it's a labour of love.”
Laid Bear have stockists in Manchester including Nells, Another Heart to Feed, Pollen, Just Between Friends and Flawd, but you can also refill directly at our brewery from the tap. Perfect for zero-waste; BYO or grab one of 500ml or 1 Litre bottles when you visit.
Laid Bear will be at Kampus this Sunday with the Ancoats Pop up Market serving on tap, so come say hi. Don't forget your bottles! :-)
Milk and Honey
With busy hands and open hearts, Milk & Honey is a little café with a big vision.
A part of St Peter’s House Chaplaincy, they are a non-profit, volunteer run café trying to find new ways of creating safe, supported and inclusive spaces and communities right at the heart of the student community in Manchester.
A message from Mary Sharples:
“We turned 4 years old last week, and during our life time we’ve worked with hundreds of amazing, dedicated, generous volunteers from all over the city (and the world!) – many have been students, and many have been from a range of our partner organisations and charities. We try our best to make Milk & Honey an accessible working environment, and work with organisations like the DePaul Trust, Pure Innovations, and Work Fit to provide trainee placements for folk who need that extra support into the working world. Since 2021, we’ve also been a Rees Café, providing support and discounted food and drink to care-experienced individuals at university, in partnership with the Rees Foundation.
But we don’t just make coffee! As a chaplaincy, we try to find different ways to meaningfully serve the student community we’re a part of, and alongside Milk & Honey we also run our Wholeness Programme - a free, weekly programme of yoga and pilates classes for all abilities, bee-keeping (we have 3 hives on the roof to help pollinate Oxford Road!), gardening, mindfulness, cooking and baking classes… We’re also here to support students more practically, and run The Well - our holistic and practical response to the inequalities of the pandemic. We believe that everybody deserves access to good, healthy, wholesome food, and so we provide weekly meal kits of fresh produce, ingredients and simple, hearty recipes for students and local residents in need.”
Milk & Honey is open Monday – Friday, 9am – 3:30pm.
Sustainability Matters by Jane Loxley
Sustainability Matters. We know that! Why is it so vital again? Because, it’s much more than reducing our carbon footprint for our planet.
Look closer, it’s in everything we do. Sustainable practice is symbiotic, things just work better when in tune and it’s this circle that usually benefits species jointly.
A mature tree needs fungi to break down the earth and is host to the treasure of a truffle – fungi.
Pedal power, teaching a child how to nurture edibles, growing brussel sprouts in your window box - yes it can be done I’ve tried it. All are symbiotic. I use the old peat free compost after harvesting sprouts to fix nitrogen in the border.
Most of my garden customers lust & crave low maintenance garden design ideas - Hooray!! Don’t imagine that a green lawn often with herbicide use, bordered by neat straight new paving and a conifer hedge is low maintenance sustainable and symbiotic. No it’s not and not in tune with nature either.
My low maintenance tips are go wild a little, plant up a diversity of plants, don’t be too tidy, let nature in and recycle as much as you can, plants don’t care if your planters are recycled they just need to breathe and clean our air for us.
What greater gift can we give the planet & it’s peoples than returning its own resources back.
So it’s a big yes! Sustainability matters! It matters to you & matters to me.
One of our objectives as a Community Interest Company (CIC) is to become a sustainable business that can provide free services to those who need it most. To achieve this, we have a diverse range of income that includes the sale of produce and services as well as receiving funding from a variety of organisations. We are always looking for donations to help sustain and improve our projects, at the same time re-using and recycling. We'll take kitchen waste and coffee grounds to feed our compost, unwanted seeds and plants, cuttings from your garden or tools you no longer use. We'll even take cold hard cash. Eventually, we would like to create a business that can support itself, but so far our funders and contributors have been a lifeline and we could not provide the valuable community work we do without them.
We don’t receive core funding, so these project grants are essential for us to continue delivering our work promoting wellbeing in the community. Speaking of which, we always welcome donations of any amount!
We also have a Patreon Fundraiser where you can claim rewards for your donations, including MUD Merchandise and Membership Cards which give you great discounts in our shop.
Early Days as an Assistant Grower at PFMG -
A Message from our grower, Jack.
Two months have passed since my first day at PFMG. The first month consisted mostly of preparing the garden for the winter markets and trying to salvage marquees that were damaged by the storm.
Recently, I have been getting things ready for the exciting new year of growth by putting up a greenhouse and building a hot bed.
One of my favourite things to do at the garden would be to loiter around the kitchen to pick off food coming from Megs and Imans wonderful cooking.
This year I am especially excited about growing several varieties of aubergines.
We look forward to welcoming you into our gardens as the weather warms up a little more.