Transition News

Grow your own food: March

You can plant almost anything in March, or you could, if the ground was not so depressingly wet. Walking on wet beds is not good for soil or carpets, and if the damp persists anything you have planted out might well rot. Raised beds, of course, are quick to warm and to dry. The weeds are already flourishing, and if you can get a hoe to them now, you will save trouble later. There is much to be done indoors - tomato, pepper, cucumber and aubergine seeds can go into the propagator, if you have one; in most cases, putting pots in sandwich bags will do just as well.

  Obviously we will watch the weather, and do what we can, when we can. Assuming you have washed all your pots, sharpened your tools, disinfected the greenhouse and serviced your mower (no, nor have I), perhaps this might be a good time to plan some new project. And wouldn't a decent herb garden be a good one?
More here by Jon Gunson...
1 Jan 1970.

TTL Food Group Constitution - Model for Groups

The Food Group worked hard on a group constitution a while ago, using the TTL principles plus a standard model constitution for groups. We've put these on the website so that other groups can use them.

11 Feb 2014.

13 Questions to you - please reply

We'd really like to hear from you

We're gathering information about people who read our monthly newsletter/visit our website and the impact Transition Town Lewes is having in relation to your lifestyle choices, etc. It's a short survey - only 13 questions - and will probably take you no more than 5 minutes to answer. Please help if you can.

Here are the questions...  Thank You!

1 Jan 1970.

2% for young savers at the Credit Union – and big businesses needed!

If you are looking for an ethical place for children’s savings, an East Sussex Credit Union Junior account is a good deal. Currently the interest rate is 2%, paid and reviewed quarterly. More information here...  All savings are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme

Adults can now join online Membership is growing rapidly, helped by a new partnership with Unite the Union, inviting new members from across South East England.

Some large businesses and other organisations in East Sussex, such as the Brighton & Hove Buses and Lewes District Council,  have payroll schemes with ESCU for their employees. These can be a painless way of saving, and loans may be available on better terms. The Credit Union is looking for more local businesses who will offer this to their employees - it is very simple to set up.

Saving and borrowing at a credit union means more money stays local – both our savings and the interest payments if we get a loan. People can avoid doorstep lenders and money shops that will charge far higher rates and not allow early repayments. ESCU also welcomes donations, which help to fund smaller loans that often go to people most in need.

With new funding and support, our local Credit Union is growing steadily, and becoming more like a community bank – future developments include basic bank accounts and membership for community groups and businesses.

27 Jan 2014.

Fed up with funding climate change?

Switching to a renewable energy supplier can be a lot easier than you think – and sends out a strong message to the big suppliers.
Use our list to make your change now - wouldn't it be wonderful if these suppliers suddenly saw a peak in customers from this area?

23 Jan 2014.

Lewes Neighbourhood Plan

Lewes Town Council is developing a Neighbourhood Plan, and has invited TTL to join a community steering group which will define its vision, priorities and content.  If the Lewes community and council accept the Plan, it becomes statutory planning policy and any development in the area will need to conform to it.  This could be an opportunity to encourage and promote sustainable design and construction, reducing energy demand in existing buildings, local community energy, sustainable transport networks, local small businesses, and more! 

TTL is forming a small group to explore responses to the Plan as it evolves over the next year, drawing on Transition Town principles and practice.  If you would like know more or to join the TTL group, please contact Dirk Campbell on 01273 479018.

22 Nov 2013.

The Burning Question

By Ann Link and Juliet Oxborrow

Late November saw Guardian journalist Duncan Clark speak to a capacity audience about his book The Burning Question at a public meeting organised by Transition Town Lewes.

  The Burning Question explores how the world has any chance of keeping within the critical 20C temperature rise agreed at the 2009 Copenhagen climate talks, given that carbon emissions keep rising exponentially.

In his talk, Duncan explained that burning fossil fuels has so far put 2,000 billion tonnes of CO2 into the air. To have a 50/50 chance of staying within the two-degree limit, the world can afford to emit only an additional 1,600 billion tonnes of CO2 (or just 700 billion tonnes for a 75% chance).  Read it here...

Useful links and information

Why can't we quit fossil fuels?
Alternatives to the big energy suppliers
– a comprehensive guide to renewable suppliers.
Burning Question – Actions to take

1 Jan 1970.

Switching to an independent renewable energy supplier

Send a message to the Big Six energy companies: switch to an independent renewable supplier. It can be easier than you think, and prices are competitive.

26 Nov 2013.

Worth Watching - The Story of Stuff

Take inspiration from these short, fun clips about the life cycle of stuff we consume. There may be a way of using these to spread awareness of the issues and if you have ideas and are keen to work on a project relating to this, TTL would be happy to hear from you.

The Story of Stuff from The Story of Stuff Project

18 Nov 2013.

News from East Sussex Credit Union

If you have long been meaning to join the East Sussex Credit Union, there is a new opportunity! You can now join online and save and borrow knowing your cash is staying local and going to help the community in East Sussex. You can still visit the Brighton office on weekdays between 10am and 3pm, and the Lewes help point is open on Wednesdays from 10am to 12 noon in the community flat on De Montfort estate. For more help points see website

Our Credit Union also offers Workplace Savings & Loans Schemes, with payments made direct from employees' payrolls.  These are currently available for staff at ESCC, Lewes and Wealden District Councils, Eastbourne Borough Council, East Sussex Fire and Rescue, Brighton & Hove Buses, University of Brighton and  Brighton & Sussex University Hospitals Trust, among others.  Anyone working for these employers can contact us to arrange membership and take advantage of the services on offer. Further details can be found on the Workplace Schemes page of the ESCU website.

We are also looking for willing employers to join this scheme, as we believe that this offers a valuable service to employees.  Please get in touch if you think your place of employment and colleagues could benefit.

18 Nov 2013.

SNUG - Draught proofing for homes in Sussex


SNUG is a Transition Town Lewes enterprise, providing draught proofing services and workshops across East Sussex. Whether you want to draught proof your home yourself, or want an expert to do it, we’re here to help. more...
7 Nov 2013.

Enterprise space needed - can you help?

A new social enterprise is seeking to set up a community aquaponics system here in Lewes - but they need space to do it.

Green Acre Aquaponics

Neil Whichelow and Emma Poole have, between them, been involved in sustainable food generation for 30 years. Aquaponics is an efficient food production system that combines farming fish and vegetation in a symbiotic environment where water and nutrients are naturally recycled and reused, and food can be grown free of environmental pollutants. Read more...

24 Oct 2013.

North Street: vision for the future

The prospective redevelopment of the North Street and Phoenix Industrial Estate area of Lewes has fuelled heated debate well before any formal planning application has been put forward. But with a site slap bang in the middle of a National Park, it also offers a golden opportunity to nurture a development that leads the way in environmental, economic and energy resilience. More...

25 Mar 2013.

Resilience, North Street & The Lewes Local Plan – Dirk Campbell

The prospective redevelopment of the North Street and Phoenix Industrial Estate has fuelled a heated debate among Lewesians well before the launch of any formal planning application. Many are concerned about what development will bring, but others see a golden opportunity to reshape the centre of Lewes and lead the way in environmental, economic and energy resilience. Dirk Campbell, of the TTL Steering Group, argues here that the site should be left to develop organically.... More...

18 Mar 2013.

Switching to Ethical Energy Suppliers

Take a look at this anti-EDF site encouraging people to switch to more ethical energy suppliers.

Also this report from WDM indicating corruption and sleaze in energy policy - a personal interpretation from one of the TTL Steering Group!  It's not a surprise, but it's good to have it documented.

14 Mar 2013.

Jon's Monthly Gardening Tips for Transitioners

Hot tips on prioritising what do do in the garden each month -
by Jon Gunson of TTL

In June we should have plenty of sunshine, and no frost. (It says here). So plant out your runner beans and tomatoes, your maincrop peas and carrots...but be ready with a watering can, in case it is dry, and a hoe, in case it rains, and the weeds flourish.

In May you can sow, or plant out: beans, dwarf and runner: beet, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrot, and cauliflower: courgettes, cucumber, and kale: marrows, melons, parsnips, peas, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, spring onions, squash, sweetcorn, swiss chard, turnips, and watercress. But sort the weeds out first, please.

April, then. Time to sow more peas, the last broad beans, and the first runners - but these last are vulnerable to late frosts, so it is perhaps best to start them in pots and plant out in May. Still time to get some onion sets in, and shallots, if you are quick. Easter is the traditional planting date for potatoes, but they are not very fussy. Get them in when and where you can, but don't forget to feed and water. Sow beetroot, chard, perpetual spinach, land cress, rocket and spring onions: plant out spring and summer cabbage, garlic, horseradish, jerusalem artichokes and cauliflowers.

March: SPUDS
I cannot remember what name was given to March in the French revolutionary calendar. Something to do with potatoes, I imagine: this is the month to buy, chit, and plant your first earlies. I understand that traditionalists would put things off a little longer, and certainly it is true that seed potatoes will rot in cold, wet ground: also, the young haulms are vulnerable to frost.

Winter Gardening: January & February
You can drive Nature out with a pitchfork, but she will always return. The modern equivalents of the pitchfork are, I suppose, the gruesome armoury of horticultural chemicals - pesticides, fungicides, and postemergent herbicides...  There is another way of coping, and it involves working with the natural world, not against it...

Winter Gardening: December
December is perhaps the best month for that important job, winter digging. The soil should be warm enough to work, and dry enough to walk on without causing compaction. And at other times of the year, of course, it is likely to have stuff growing in it...

Food Growing Tips for November
Presumably anyone interested in Transition is also interested in growing their own food; however, some may just be learning how to do so, and the rest of us, being busy, might profit from the occasional seasonal tip.  November is a good time to plant the alliums – onions, shallots, and garlic...

1 Jan 1970.

New ways of thinking and a new word to match: 'Naturegain'

Naturegain  is a word who’s meaning captures what nature does for us and how we can help. As an example:

All our water comes from Nature. But did you know that, in Lewes, we don’t get all our water from reservoirs; much of our water actually comes from groundwater? This is because of our setting in the local chalk hills and is influenced by the way the chalk landscapes are managed. Rainwater percolates through the chalk rock and then comes out from springs or is pumped from bore holes. We pay the local water company because they provide the infrastructure and management (pumps and pipes and ‘stuff’), but behind the engineering, water is a product of naturegain.

Clean air is also a product of naturegain. It is natural processes – principally living plants – that produce the oxygen we breathe. Perhaps less obviously, the economy comes into it too! According to one of the Senior Managers at Deutsche Bank, naturegain (although he calls it ‘natural flows’) is a very important part of the ‘invisible economy’ (more). Without naturegain, our economies would not function as we know them. However, its contribution is invisible because it is not given a monetary value by conventional economic measures and indicators. Naturegain is an ‘externality’, which means it is not accounted for in the economy.

And here’s the other side of the equation! Past a certain point, we only gain from nature if nature gains from us. We need to invest in nature to get what we need from natural processes and systems. So naturegain includes the gain that nature gets from us! The problem here is that because it is invisible in the economy, normal economic progress and growth often leads to destruction or degradation of nature. This is a bit like cutting off the legs of a chair in order to put wood on the fire and then expecting to be able to sit on the chair to enjoy the warmth of the fire. What is needed then is to re-gain nature.

All this is what naturegain says in one simple word! (watch it as a slideshow for best results)

1 Jan 1970.
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