Autumn 2017 Newsletter

It’s the day after our monthly Committee meeting. I still can’t believe we need them every month, nor that we still struggle to finish before 10pm! There is so much to do and a lot going on. The big news items are that we finally have the go ahead for our Civic Centre Community Garden and we have drunk beer made from our own hops!  But it’s all worth it when we harvest our crops:

In September, Hixberry Lane harvested the hops from our ten hop plants and delivered them to Farr Brew.

Each plant owner enjoyed three pints of beer as part of the brewery’s Hop Collective scheme. Much of this was drunk at the Hop Party at the Fighting Cocks as part of the St Albans Food & Drink Festival!

We have been regularly collecting spent hops from Farr Brew to help Hixberry’s heavy clay soil; just look at the result!

If only I knew how to cook them!

We shared our Harvest Festival with Friends and members children who gave us an excuse to update our scarecrow.

On 7 October, all Naomi’s perseverance paid off and FoodSmiles launched its Incredible Edible Civic Centre garden as part of St Albans Food Festival's 'Sustainable Saturday'! Some new faces came along to help us start turning this neglected bit of land into an abundant food garden right in the town centre. If it’s as successful as the Skip Garden I came across just north of Kings Cross station, we’ll be opening a FoodSmiles café soon!

The garden is right next to the main entrance to the Alban Arena so do have a look and perhaps join in our fortnightly weekend sessions.
The promised donations have now been received plus we are applying for grants.  We have already received £240 from Waitrose Community green disc scheme. All help is appreciated and if you'd like to get involved and/or make a donation towards setting up the gardens or if you know someone who might sponsor us, please get in touch:
Non-monetary donations would also be useful from compost, woodchip, stakes, battery operated tools, buckets to old tents. Please think outside the box and contact us if you think you have something useful or a contact who does. Thank you.

Our Incredible Edible site at Russell Avenue is on track to start next spring.

We recently hosted a talk by David Miveld, a local bee keeper, at the Courtyard Cafe. It was fascinating. Did you know that a hive can contain as many as 50,000 bees, and a large swarm could contain around 25,000 bees all of whose purpose is to protect the Queen?  

Our publicity activity is high. Andrew delivered a short presentation about Food Smiles as part of Sustainable Saturday at the Courtyard Café and Janet was on the radio again. Maybe this is why we are enjoying an influx of potential and new members. This is very encouraging and should mean we reach our 35 target by the end of the year. Hopefully, they won’t be too put off by the amount of weeding we are having to do as it’s so much better doing it with others!

...and to finish, here’s Alec’s latest seasonal recipe:

Spiced Pumpkin Soup with Bourbon

500g Pumpkin
200g White Onion
400ml Vegetable Stock
Splash Olive Oil
25ml Double Cream
½ tsp Smoked Paprika
¼ tsp Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Salt
Parsley for Garnish
Bourbon to taste

Roughly dice the onion and start to sweat off in a pan with the oil. Peel, de-seed and dice the pumpkin and add to the pan. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer for 5 mins. Add the spices, cream and bourbon and use a hand blender to blitz the soup to smooth.
Serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkle of parsley and paprika on top.

Date for your diary
All our members (this includes Friends of FoodSmiles) are welcome to attend our AGM on 1st February 2018. We would love to see you.