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The Voice - August 2022

Comment by Geoff

Listen to trees

Once again we have to deal with the issue of The Bethnal Green Mulberry Tree. The High Court ruled that the planning permission be quashed following a Judicial Review, so the process has to start again.

The developer, Crest Nicholson, planned to remove the Mulberry Tree from this conservation area in Bethnal Green along with eleven other trees that were protected with preservation orders. Having decided they are unable to make the profit required following The High Court judgement, they have sold the site to Clarion, a Housing Association.

Sadly, the local authority concerned does not want to listen to the local residents, and even after the High Court judgement, councillors were stating that it would be overturned.

Clarion has asked to meet with The East London Garden Society to determine the parameters of the new planning application. What we will be saying is that the mature Mulberry Tree must be protected along with the other veteran trees currently protected by preservation orders.

The trees all sit within an ecological system which would be severely damaged should the development involve a higher number of buildings than the conservation area can cope with.

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Beetroot, sometimes called table beet, garden beet, red or golden beet, or just beet, is a taproot part of the beet plant. It is used for nourishment, but it also has use in food colouring and medicine. It can be used anywhere between raw to heavily processed.

The oldest archaeological proof that we used beetroot in ancient times was found on the Neolithic site of Aartswoud in the Netherlands and in the Saqqara pyramid at Thebes, Egypt, which dates from the time of the Third Dynasty.

There are Assyrian texts that say beetroots were growing in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in the 800 BC. However, we can be positive that Mesopotamia knew about beetroots at that time. Ancient Greeks cultivated beetroot around 300 BC. They didn't use the roots of the plant and only ate the leaves, nevertheless they respected the root and offered it to the sun god Apollo in the temple of Delphi.

Hippocrates used leaves of beetroot for binding and dressing wounds while Talmud, written in 4th and 5th century, advises eating beetroot, among other things, for longer life. Romans ate the root but it was used mainly for medicinal purposes. Apicius, a famous Roman gourmet, wrote a book called The Art of Cooking which had recipes using beetroots.

Having appeared in 16th and 17th century Europe, it took a few hundred years more to become popular. In Central and Eastern Europe new cuisines with beetroot started appearing such as borscht. The Victorians used beetroot to bring colour to an otherwise colourless diet as well as a sweet ingredient in desserts. Industrialisation allowed for easier preparation and conservation of vegetables, therefore beetroot became more available.

Today, the most common variant of beetroot is round and deep red, other beetroots can be yellow, white, red and white.

In the food industry, beetroot juice is used as a colourant. Beets contain an array of nutrients that make them especially beneficial for detoxification of organs in the body. This includes the liver, digestive system, and kidneys. 

Beets stimulate lymphatic flow, they aid in helping increase oxygen by cleansing the blood, and they assist with cleansing in every way you can imagine. For your liver, beets are used to break down toxic wastes to help excrete them from the body faster.

Long Wall Ecology Garden

Ecology Garden

We were really thrilled to be asked to write in this month’s newsletter for the East London Garden Society, and we’d like to introduce you to an existing natural space that we are gently cultivating as the Long Wall Ecology Garden. This is part of our work with Surge Cooperative.

The Long Wall Ecology Garden is on the site that sits between Abbey Mills pumping station and the Channelsea river, just off the Greenway at Channelsea bridge. The site is a public right of way, with the ‘snail’ sculpture, some Thames Water infrastructure, a seating area and some existing tree and bush planting.

Over the last few years we’ve been slowly observing, surveying and cleaning up the site, to discover what kinds of creatures already make their home there. We see the site extending onto the waterway and have created floating surrogate habitats for the river to attract more birdlife and insects.

We know these green blue spaces are vitally important for our resilience and resistance to climate change, particularly in urban settings.

In wanting to get to know our neighbours better, we’ve been working with invertebrate specialist Russell Miller to see what species are living on site. After just one visit, and without any trapping, he has identified 50 species, which is indicative of the quality of the site. A few of these, such as the Long-faced Furrow Bee, the Red-tailed Blood Bee and the Mallow Flea Beetle are nationally scarce. We’re looking forward to further surveys to uncover many more.

There are plenty of ways to get involved, please join our mailing list and follow us on social media to keep up to date on our projects, monthly ecology days, events and clean ups.

Surge Cooperative are a non-profit organisation, creating affordable moorings and improving biodiversity on London's waterways.

The Compost Fire

Compost fire

In Wennington, the London Borough of Havering, a devastating fire wreaked havoc and disaster in this small village. Alfie Stock, a neighbour, told the Metro:

“Our houses back onto the marshes and it’s been like a tinderbox all week. The fire was caused by a compost heap. It was a three-foot high pile of grass and the heat had built up inside before it spontaneously combusted."

Climate warming, with exceptional heat, is now going to be a common occurrence. As gardeners we understand that many types of crop can now be grown locally, that were not known before such as grapes. But as gardeners we must be thoughtful of how we use our gardens. If a compost heap can easily cause devastating circumstances to a small village, we must look at other ways to control our gardening methods.

We need to continue being proud of our gardens but we must also be attentive to the current climate and high temperatures.


Newcastle Civic Centre

Newcastle Civic Centre. (Image: Newcastle Chronicle)

One wonders as to why it takes so long to make changes to the urban environment. What poisons have already been used and to what effect are these poisons having on the local community?

An article in the Newcastle Chronicle states:

Decision-makers in Newcastle have promised to stop using weedkiller and plastic grass after declaring a biodiversity emergency in the city.

Newcastle City Council has pledged to phase out its use of weedkillers in the next five years, having been criticised in the past for spraying potentially harmful glyphosate-based herbicides.

A raft of pledges made by the local authority last week also included creating a meadow where residents can plant seeds and flowers in memory of loved ones instead of holding balloon releases, which had been condemned by environmental groups.

It is good that change is slowly taking place, but surely the consequences of decisions that are made should be thought through before putting them into practice.

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Beetroot and Feta Pasta

Beetroot Feta Pasta

Finally ...

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