Placeholder Picture

The Voice - May 2020

Comment by Geoff

Geoff Juden

All of us are living in unprecedented times. As yet there is no cure for the Covid-19 virus which is debilitating and taking lives. However, there are certain plants that when eaten assist the immune system, such as garlic, turmeric, and nasturtiums which are this month's recipe in our article Cooking in a Different Way.

Before modern drugs came to our aid people relied on the natural environment in all matters concerning everyday life. Maybe we can assist our bodies with such ways again.

To all the readers - keep safe.

If you value having someone campaign on your behalf to protect the environment and having access to useful articles about gardening and local environmental matters, please make a donation to help us with the cost of maintaining The East London Garden Society.

Deer Deer!


Lockdown might be taking its toll on people all over the world, but the animals are loving it.

First, we had the herd of goats who’d taken over Welsh seaside town Llandudno and now a plucky group of deer are making themselves at home on the streets of Romford. Yes, really.

This animal takeover was been brought to our attention by none other than singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, who snapped this picture of a load of deer hanging out in Harold Hill, east London.

Covid-19 and Biodiversity


There are four critical facets of pandemic prevention, according to Lee Hannah, senior scientist at Conservation International. Three of them make immediate sense against the backdrop of our current emergency: stockpile masks and respirators; have testing infrastructure ready; and ban the global wildlife trade, including the open animal markets where COVID-19 may have first infected people.

The assault on ecosystems that allowed COVID-19 to jump from animals to humans went far beyond merchants hunting and selling rare wildlife. Biodiversity that is, the health of the entire ecosystem can restrain pathogens before they ever leave the wild. “We need to tell people right now that there is a series of things we need to do once we’re out of this mess to make sure it never happens again,” Hannah says.

The role of biodiversity in disease prevention has received increased attention of late. In a 2015 “state of knowledge review” of biodiversity and human health by the United Nations, scientists wrote that “an ecological approach to disease, rather than a simplistic ‘one germ, one disease’ approach, will provide a richer understanding of disease-related outcomes.” Recent research has given more support to the idea that biodiversity protection in one part of the world can prevent novel diseases from emerging and leaping into another.

It is a numbers game, in part. Not all species in a community are equally susceptible to a given disease, nor are they all equally efficient transmitters. In diverse ecosystems well separated from human habitations, viruses ebb and flow without ever having a chance to make it to the big time.

But as people move in, those protections begin to break down. Disrupted ecosystems tend to lose their biggest predators first, and what they leave behind are smaller critters that live fast, reproduce in large numbers, and have immune systems more capable of carrying disease without succumbing to it. When there are only a few species left, they are good at carrying disease, and they thrive near people, there may be nothing between a deadly pathogen and all of humanity.

Almost half of the new diseases that jumped from animals to humans (called zoonotic pathogens) after 1940 can be traced to changes in land use, agriculture, or wildlife hunting. SARS, Ebola, West Nile, Lyme, MERS, and others all fit the profile. There may be 10,000 mammalian viruses potentially dangerous to people.

“We are messing with natural systems in certain ways that can make them much more dangerous than they would otherwise be,” says Richard Ostfeld, a disease ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. “And biodiversity loss is one of those. Climate change is another.”

Eric Roston



An elderly Chinese man had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the man bringing home only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the man one day by the stream. "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."

The old man smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side?" "That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them." "For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it is the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so interesting and rewarding. You have just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. So, to all of my crackpot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Legal Rights for Ancient Trees

Ancient tree

All ancient trees (over 100 years of age) should have the legal right not to be damaged or felled, with the exception of sustainable forestry to produce wood and maintaining the tree’s health.

This would effectively make tree preservation orders (TPOs) national. Sign the Petition now to make this happen.

At 10,000 signatures, government will respond to this petition and at 100,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in Parliament, so please help this happen to protect our trees.

Cooking in a Different Way ‐ Nasturtiums

Having medicinal properties this may be one way to assist the immune system.

Ingredients for Nasturtium Vinegar:



Ingredients for Nasturtium Vinaigrette Dressing:


Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and gently stir to combine. Pour dressing into a glass bottle or jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake before use.

Preparation of Dish

Although the flower is most often enjoyed, the entire nasturtium plant is edible. Their vibrant colours and tangy taste make nasturtiums a delicious addition to many dishes. When adding nasturtium flowers and leaves to salads, it is best to harvest them just prior to use.

Besides using them in salads, the following are additional uses for nasturtiums:

Finally ...

Previous issues of The VoiceBack to Top