Training for Transformation

12th December 2013 by

This little blog is full of links. Follow them to find out more – I’m sure they can all explain what they do better than I can!

This week I visited New Unity in Stoke Newington for the first time – an amazing place for an amazing event. Sometimes it’s wonderful what can hide behind walls. A place some of us had cycled past every day, lived or worked a stone’s throw away from, but didn’t yet know about.

New Unity is a “radically inclusive community of faith”, focusing on compassion and social justice, with a fascinating history. One of the many things on offer are community events. This week they were host to Let Freedom Ring, sharing some tools and practices from Training for Transformation. This training is based on the work of Paulo Freire, on community and popular education. It is about transforming societies through people and thinking critically about educational processes, developing new ones from the people.

I came away full of ideas to incorporate into our work at Otesha and full of inspiration to continue learning. The day was inspiring, not just because of exciting training, but all the wonderful people there. People working and taking action on so many vital social/environmental justice issues. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Branch Out Sides with the Seeds

16th May 2013 by

Nathan and TilthPhil updates us on what’s been happening down in the garden…

It has been a few weeks since my introduction to tilth and soil preparation. I have had plenty of practice in my own allotment when my first batch of rhubarb and leeks were promoted from humble crop to vibrant ingredients for roasts, soups and deserts. After a terminally cold winter the soil needed a serious working over, re-nourishing, re-hydrating and good dousing of sun-induced sweat from my brow. With my raised beds eager to welcome the incumbent class of vegetable goodies, Branch Out’s next session at St Mary’s Secret Garden on sowing seeds was a timely return to the tutelage of Liam.

The Branch Out team had recently completed our first assessment and we were ready for the next stage. We gathered around a raised bed and Liam told us to pull up a chair. The lesson was off to a laid back start. Perched on our seats, we peered into the bed, whereupon Liam instructed to work our magic to prepare the soil. It was a far more civilised affair being a sedentary gardener. We had our miniature forks and rakes, and fortunately the tilth only required the odd prod and poke, a pluck of some nuisance weeds and stones, and a little persuasion to level the final soil.

Branch Out Carrots

Our demonstration began with stakes connected by string bridging the width of the bed, demarcating our drill. Liam used a trowel to open out a V-shaped trench about an inch deep along the string, before filling it with a drenching of water. The water rapidly seeped through, leaving a moist mould; perfect preparation for the seeds to be sown. These were duly and carefully dropped in. The first technique was a continuous line of closely spaced individual seeds. The alternative was stationing, a peppering of 4 or 5 seeds at a single point with larger intermediary spaces. The drill was covered and given a generous watering, thus completing a simple but crucial process that gives the plants the best chance at flourishing. We were ready to try it for ourselves and we managed to fill an entire bed with Rothild, Yellowstone and Nantes 2 carrot types. Hopefully when we return next, a squadron of emerging carrot tops will be at attention on our arrival.

Carrot SquadronThe Branch Out team has also been very busy working on other projects. We have been helping Cre8 Arc, a centre of opportunities in sport, media, a variety of arts in Hackney, with the construction of their new eco-walkway. We have also spent a fantastic day with the team at Streetscape based in Myatt’s Field, Lambeth. They do a lot of work in design, landscaping and garden maintenance, and are actively involved in providing training for young people in acquiring these types of skills. We attended their taster day and were graced with scorching sunshine as we helped with their mass composting, fixing a fence, clearing the secluded shaded walkway and cleaning the pond. The whole team, including the directors of the Branch Out Programme, Tamsin and Cecily, got stuck in and had an amazing day.


Building Garden small

Branch Out! Join our FREE horticultural work training programme

13th February 2013 by

GREEN JOBS ARE A-GO! Grow your way to a green-fingered career on Otesha’s newest programme -‘Branch Out’! Want to work outside, get some environmental qualifications and find a great green job at the end? Then join our 1st programme from April- June in Hackney!

Branch Out is totally FREE and open to ALL 16-25 year olds who can travel to East London 2 days a week. If you, or someone you know, wants to join this course and find work then get in contact with Tamsin by emailing or calling 020 3609 6763.

Registration deadline March 18th 2013.


New Home!

21st January 2013 by

If you’ve been friends with us for a while you’ll know we’ve had multiple homes in East London, in fact we’ve moved nearly every year since Otesha UK was born, phew! Just before Christmas we packed up our plants, worms, the infamous cycle tour slug and other bits and bobs, waved goodbye to Toynbee hall and piled into Edd’s horsebox to travel over the canal to our new home in Hackney- Workshop 44.

Based in Regents estate, workshop 44 is now home to Otesha, London Orchard Project and a number of individuals working on different social justice and environmental campaigns.  Together we host the space for the local community; welcoming in residents who want to use computers and resources and running workshops in the evenings.  Otesha will be running a set of three Dr.Bike sessions (suitable for all!) weekly from Tuesday 5th February, 5pm-6pm.  Pop along and say hello!

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