South Ward Allotments is a 5 acre plot on the Southern edge of Oxford. After the 2nd World War the allotments here spread from the Old Abingdon Road all the way over to Hinksey, but unfortunately the site now has a teeny bit of an image problem: It's a little bit out of the way and with around 50% occupancy there are quite a few neglected plots gradually succumbing to bramble inundation.
Emma, who's one of the allotment committee, asked us to help get some of the vacant plots cleared of brambles to make them more appealling to potential gardeners, and so we donned our long sleeves and long trousers to tackle the thorny problem.
The light is a bit against us on evening tasks now, but with a hot air balloon floating above and some lovely evening sunshine we managed a full hour of lopping and detangling. We unearthed raspberry canes and a sweet pink swing in the process and were gifted yellow and green courgettes from an allotment tenant as a reward - what will you cook up with yours?! 1 allotment plot down, many more to go...the plot numbering goes to over 200 at South Ward!
Emma has asked if we could come back a few more times, and so we'll look at future dates to try and clear more plots, although they'll obviously need to be at weekends for the next few months.
Another Wednesday, another busy shift packing food parcels at the Oxford Mutual Aid food bank.
Oxford Mutual Aid are the only source of emergency food support available in Oxford. Last week Oxford Mutual Aid packed and delivered 295 food parcels reaching 986 people, including 564 adults, 289 children and 86 babies. Their Kitchen Collective program supplied 250 meals to 83 households, and they also provided food for 43 adults recently rehoused in hostel accomodation AND 26 extra parcels for Syrian Sisters and Oxfordshire Asian women's voice.
Thank you all for your contribution to this big team effort.
Welcome Natasha - it was good to meet you!
We have 2 tasks tonight. This is the early shift at Oxford Mutual Aid, and there will also be a task at South Ward Allotments (near Redbridge Park & Ride) starting at 6:15pm. It would be feasible to make it to both if you want a full evening of GoodGyming, as long as you're happy to run or cycle between the two (walking wouldn't be quick enough, sorry!).
We will be based inside Richard Benson Hall preparing food parcels in the food bank and helping the delivery drivers load them into their cars. We will do some restocking of the shelves too if there's time.
Please wear a mask. Anwen will be at the hall from 4pm, so feel free to turn up any time between 4pm and 4:30pm.
The garden at the Highfield unit is looking WAY less bramble infested now after our regular work over the spring and summer. This last evening visit of the summer (and of the year!) was an opportunity for a good tidy-up before autumn sets in.
Weeding, raking, nettle pulling, and - of course - bramble lopping were the tasks of the night. We even found buried treasure as we unearthed some teeny tiny potatoes. We replanted them in hopes of a full crop next year.
Side note: only at GoodGym would the declaration "I found a potato!" receive the reply "What? another one?!".
Several of wheelbarrow loads of weeds and grass cuttings were removed, ideas discussed for perennials which might bring some colour to the planting next year, and we were all done before 7:30pm sunset.
We were grateful for water and juice from the ward staff - thank you!
Welcome back to Oxford Jessica L and congrats on your 10th Good Deed!
Well done on your 1st GoodGym Good Deed Jessica V.
We've been given access to the Roger Bannister Track for a running session this evening.
Track sessions are great for all speeds and experience of runners - since we run around in circles no-one can get too far ahead or behind the group!
We will do an introductory session including a warm up, section of fast and slow intervals, then a cool down jog at the end. The principle is similar to a HIIT session, where you alternate sections of higher effort with gentle recovery sections. Everyone will run or run-walk at their own pace, so the faster runners will just have to complete more intervals in the time ;-)
Open to all, come and join in!
We will meet outside the main reception to the sports centre. Please ensure you are there by 7:40pm as I won't be able to come back out to collect latecomers.
We've been helping regularly in the garden of the young person’s mental health unit, the Highfield. There is only one gardener for the whole of the Warneford Hospital site, so it is a difficult to keep it all looking as good as it could.
The Highfield Unit has a large fenced garden divided into 3 different sections, and a public area in front of the ward too. We will split into teams to work in the different sections. We'll be looking to get it ready for autumn, as this will be our last evening session here until the spring. Sunset is at 7:36pm this evening.
We plan to do some weekend sessions in the autumn and winter to plant bulbs and do preparatory work for spring.
Please bring gardening gloves. Other tools will be provided, but if you have a small pair of secateurs please bring them - we always need more tools for pruning at this task.
* Anyone wishing to run or walk to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 6pm. There will be running and walking routes planned. It's less than a mile to Warneford Hospital, but be warned that it's mostly up hill! There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us on the lawn outside reception at Warneford Hospital at 6:15pm.
Some residents of Meadow Lane have formed a gardening group and are planning to plant up a strip 1m wide along the edge of Meadow Lane Recreation Ground. They have asked for a GoodGym flash mob to help them prepare the ground by digging out the turf and weeds in preparation for planting. A strip by the playground has been started, and we will extend this.
Sunset is at 7:04pm, so we will want to get working quickly, but Meadow Lane is street lit, which will extend our digging time.
Wheelbarrows, forks and spades will be provided. You may prefer to bring your own gardening gloves, but they aren't completely necessary for this task.
* Anyone wishing to run or walk to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 6pm. There will be running and walking routes planned. There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us on the corner of Jackdaw Lane and Meadow Lane at 6:10pm.
I am hoping to get a booking on the Roger Bannister Track for 7:45-8:15pm and will list that separately once it is confirmed.
There are always lots of newcomers to the city at this time of year, and it can be difficult to find a social circle during a pandemic. We like to think GoodGym can help with that, so tonight we'll be dividing into groups to distribute posters around Oxford to help promote GoodGym and spread the word about all the opportunities we offer to do good and get fit.
There will be at least one walking group and a handful of running routes. Exact routes tbc but are likely to be between 3km-5km and include Central and East Oxford.
As we'll be approaching autumn by then, please be sure to bring headtorches and high vis gear if you have them.
The run will be followed by drinks in the James Street Tavern.
A few of you will remember the task we did for Cherwell Larder at the South Ward Allotments - unearthing the allotment plot from under heaps of long grass and brambles. Well tonight we've been called back in, but this time by the person who manages the whole allotment site. We might be in time for blackberries - the silver lining to bramble lopping!
As we saw on our previous visit, the South Ward Allotments has quite a lot of brambles and nettles. They'd like our help in getting some areas less brambley. We'll make a start this evening, but as sunset is 7:20pm this Wednesday any subsequent sessions this year will be at weekends.
Let's see what we can do in an hour!
Please bring sturdy gardening gloves, and long trousers would be best for avoiding nettle stings and/or bramble scratches. (Is it even a GoodGym gardening task without some combination of those two?!)
* Anyone wishing to run to the task as a group please meet in the car park of the Richard Benson Hall, 276b Cowley Rd at 5:45pm. There will just be a running group this week as it is a little too far to get to South Hinksey in time if we walk. This will be a run of approx 2 miles. There won’t be a bag drop available.
* If you would prefer to meet at the task please meet us on the opposite side of the road from the Redbridge Household Waste Recycling Centre OX1 4XG at 6:05pm (glamorous, I know!), and we will walk the last stretch as a group. It is a 10 minute walk from there so we set off straight away and do the register on arrival at the allotments.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are making your own way to the task the entrance is off Old Abingdon Road. Postcode OX1 4XS. Please be careful not to go into the static caravan site at Redbridge Hollow, but take the track to your right before the caravan park entrance. Let me know by commenting if you are likely to arrive after the main group as there is a padlocked gate so I will need to pop out to let you in. Probably best to park at the Redbridge Park & Ride, which is a 10 minute walk away.