Gratified that my first attempts at edible growing occasionally produce a surplus, and not wanting it to go to waste, I popped into the Market today.
There I bump into Mehul and Sarah, have a chat, cover off some CPTT business (much more effectively than by email) - then am distracted by the sight of a bunch of toddlers with rubber gloves on their feet, doing the Quack Quack song. Hilarious and heart-warming in equal measure - they're all so delicious, I want to scoop them up and eat them (like all the other produce at the market!)
In between, Robin tells me how much she enjoys working on the Patchwork stall - she feels right at the centre of the busy hubbub that is the market. She gets to talk to loads of people who come to buy, swap or donate stuff at the stall and exchange info about growing. She feels she learns a lot from this, and has a passion for encouraging local growing. She loves the personal feel of knowing where everything on the stall has been grown. She also gets to know the other market traders. It's unusual in London, she says, to feel so much part of a close community.
I wander on to the fish stall and say hello to Paul who's doing a brisk trade in fresh fish and merry market patter. I met him a couple of summers ago when he was unemployed and doing a lot of work at the Edible Garden. He helped me out in my attempts to transform my neglected back garden into a growing space, and I helped him re-write his CV etc. An informal skill share, you might say. Now he's got paid work - including at the fish stall.
I have a potter around the Handmade Palace stall which sells stuff made by local artisans - for some, their only outlet. Have a giggle at some of the cards, admire some of the designs and come away with a new idea. I have a bit of a creative streak on the quiet, and also a passion for reducing waste. Have been toying with the idea of making a lampshade out of recycled plastic bottles. Sounds ludicrous, but trust me - see picture below. Maybe if it works I could do a nifty little line at the Handmade stall. Kalina Palka, local artisan ... hmmmm ...
As usual I leave the market with a warm glow and a head full of ideas. Can't believe that a couple of years ago this thriving community hub didn't exist. I love the buzz, and bumping into lots of people I know - but even more, I love what it's about: sustainably produced food, a strong local economy and a close community. And this isn't just about feel-good, folks (though it does feel good) - these are the things we need to create to ensure those singing toddlers have a future to look forward to. With reducing oil supplies and rampant climate change, we need to do all we can to make our lifestyle more sustainable. I'm only grateful that there's still time for this to be creative and fun.
So, back to designing those lampshades ....