Winter 2017/2018 Newsletter

Welcome to our winter 2017/18 Newsletter. Our good intention is to issue these on a quarterly basis in order to keep you up to date with FoodSmiles St Albans’ activities and ensure you are part of our Community

As I take a break between festivities, I look back over the last 3 months’ at FoodSmiles with satisfaction. Peter kindly wished us all Happy Christmas and described us as a ‘can do’ team. I certainly endorse that view and enjoy our members’ positive approach to often mundane tasks. Some people like and choose to weed as a clear bed gives them satisfaction.  Anthony has been drowning bad weeds; he says “It is a very stinky job - I’ve been double gloving it (plastic disposable gloves under grippy gardening gloves) because the smell takes forever to get off my hands”.  Others like construction, tidying up or watering. Well, it takes all sorts!
Team work. Can you spot the Christmas pudding?
October saw our first ever cauliflower harvest and mighty fine specimens they were too

Our St Albans site in Hixberry Lane is the main development for 2017. Well done to Hilary and her team of regulars; many of whom are working over and above their contractual hours to make this expansion to our growing area a success. The Community Development Agriculture organisation presented us with a poly tunnel kit and a hope that we would construct it.  I have been amazed at the speed with which this has been erected over the last month or so. What else is there to do on the 23rd of December?
Construction of the polytunnel frame
Polytunnel with skin added but not yet tightened
Completed polytunnel with drum tight skin and moveable staging table
This time last year we were successful in gaining a Postcode Local Lottery grant to fund the purchase of a strimmer and the introduction of solar power to our Hammonds End site. Whilst the project was delayed, the last stages were completed over the Christmas period and we now hope to run a fridge, inside and outside lighting and charge up tools. Let’s hope it’s a sunny 2018!

Whilst because of the weather and the panto season, little is happening at our new Incredible Edible Civic Centre site until the 27th January working party, the site looks tended and has smart plant labels made from recycled spoons and the path marked out ready for some wood chippings (anyone know of any sources?). Do go and have a look.

Incredible Edible garden at the St Albans Arena
Jayne has been successful in her application for a £2000 grant from the Lottery. This will help fund raised beds and compost for this community site.
We had a great parsnip harvest with eight in each member’s Christmas box!
Alex has been working hard at No. 23 so we have relieved him of his recipes duties this time. Here is what I made with some of the parsnips. I used the nests for canap├ęs and they formed a tasty crisp surround to beetroot, cranberry and goat’s cheese.


For 12 small nests using fairy cake tins or individual yorkshire pudding tins:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled and julienned
  • 1 beaten egg
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C Fan/Gas 6.
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan.
  3. Add parsnips and s+p and fry for a few minutes until wilted down and slightly softened.
  4. Leave to cool completely, then mix with the egg.
  5. Grease the tin and heat in the oven.
  6. Strain parsnips and divide them between the cases, pressing down the centre and pushing up the sides to make nests.
  7. Bake for 20 mins, or until crisp and brown.

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year.