Foodival is Transition Town Tooting's annual food festival, celebrating everything that's good about locally grown food. Foodival aims to show how it's possible to grow local, eat local, be sustainable and have fun while doing it!

Monday, October 16, 2017

"Shazifim yerakim, gojeh sabz, jarareng, erik, janarek...." Tooting Community Garden's plums

Did you try the sour plums at the Foodival?

'These sour plums are known as shazifim yerakim in Israel, gojeh sabz in Iran, jarareng in Lebanon, erik in Turkey, and janarek in Jordan.'

These plums were saved after pruning the Greengage trees that grow in the tooting community garden as part of a pruning workshop. They were not ripe for eating but nothing goes to waste so Charles experimented with pickling the plums. They were certainly delightful at the Foodival. Something Unique.

The pruning workshop was delivered by Ryan O'Kane from The Orchard Project and we were joined by people from other gardens that could benefit from advice on pruning fruit trees.

Once we knew which trees were remaining then we needed to prune them  to provide space for air and better light to help them be healthy trees. Ideally this would be a vase shape but our particular trees are grown from 'suckers' - that is a  self propagating system connected to the main tree.

While we all wanted to get going with the variety of exciting tools they had brought along it was important that first we decided what the aims of the pruning were. The trees have been allowed to grow a bit wild which makes them great as a habitat but the pruning would help to promote tree health and improved crop. The aims are not complementary and that made it difficult in the beginning to decide on a strategy.

This is often something that we can struggle with any of our gardening aims. Balancing the needs of nature and the needs of humans are not always compatible and these decisions are hard. Particularly as a group who may have divergent views, or feel they do not know enough to choose a course of action. In the end we were able to agree a compromise with half reserved for habitat with some pruning for health and the other half would be cut back quite dramatically to get to a spacing that would promote fewer but stronger and more productive trees.

There was also time to look at the Victoria plum and identify branches that we could prune to promote healthy and strong growth for the tree.

While there were many people helping the plums are close together and it wasn't practical to prune more than two trees in the area at a time. So there is still more work to do but we now have a strategy that should be maintainable in the future.

It was a fantastic learning experience and if you have fruit trees in your own garden then check out for more advice and opportunities for you to learn about caring for your fruit trees.

Maybe you're inspired to start a new orchard? This year our friend Martin Cobley has helped establish the first Community Orchard in Wandsworth Borough. Congratulations! If you want to visit, contact him at

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Foodival 2017 Growers

Thank you so much to all the fantastic donors who make the Tooting Foodival happen.  Here they are in their "I Grew This" photos and this is what they grew and donated:

Jon - chives, beetroot & rhubarb
Kath - runner beans and potatoes
Debbie - raspberries, blackberries, courgettes, sweet corn, pears, cucumelons, onions, cavolo nero & pumpkin
Richard - carrots, chives, rosemary, potatoes & tomatoes
Indrajit - grapes
Heide - apples, pears and bay leaves
David - runner beans, tomatoes & kohl rabi
Mal - tomatoes
Jane - apples & leeks
Abundance Southfields - apples (thank you Richard)
Barbara - beans & lettuce
Tamworth Allotments - rocket & chard
Maggie - nasturtiums & mint
Judy - pears
Kelly - apples, chillis, tomatoes, carrots, sage, rosemary, cabbage, lemon balm, beans kale & chives
Chris - pumpkin & 2lbs of safari beans
Esther - tomatoes
Eleanor - blackberries & pears
Helen - rosemary & marrow
Tooting Community Garden - 25kg of potatoes, curly kale, cavolo ner, swiss chard, coriander, fennel, callaloo, young Jerusalem artichoke, pattypan squash, rosemary & sage, Paradise Co-op - beans, tomato, bay leaves & herbs
Doddington & Rollo Community Garden - coriander, rosemary & sage
SHARE Community Garden - cabbages & a fantastic plant display