Welcome to this week’s Handmade Monday, to join in head over to Handmade Harbour – not a blogger? pop over there anyway and get inspired by a fab range of crafty blogs!
Over the past few months Bees have dominated my working life, Ive written buzzy funding applications and flown off to meetings to present them, buzzed off to meetings that were hives of activity and joined a colony of worker bees to create a very special event!
Ropewalk Community Garden and Community Centre is an oasis of green in the centre of inner city Southampton. Its a relic of the once proud and thriving shipping industry in the days of sail – the city’s only remaining Ropewalk – a long narrow area well over 100ft long where ropes were made for sailing ships. According to wikipedia they were the sweat shops of their day and fire was a huge risk to the men working there.
Its been taken on by a group of volunteers who work hard to make it somewhere for the local community to go and get involved in growing things. There’s also a large wooden gazebo in the centre that is used for all sorts of activities from bike workshops to drinking tea and enjoying Thea’s homemade cakes!
The building at the end is the community centre, a former primary school which was then an annex to a senior school and finally an advice centre. Its now been bought by the West Itchen Community Trust, repaired and revamped, providing offices, a community learning area, UK online centre and Taste of Enterprise training
Southampton and Eastleigh Friends of the Earth, teamed up with the Community Garden team and myself to plan and
organise Ropewalk’s Summer Buzz. The aim of the event was a fun community festival that also shared ways to garden that helped sustain the honey bee – a species under threat. We had originally thought about having a couple of arts and crafts activities and some crafts but as we talked, planned and shared ideas we developed a mini festival. We were really fortunate too in that we got some really positive support with publicity from the local council, newspaper and community radio stations, as well as having a few people tirelessly handing out posters and fliers in the local area. The local FOE group have been running a variety of bee themed events, stands and walks this summer, all clad in bee costumes!
Saturday was promisingly warm if overcast and I was a tad worried about the weather, especially as we discovered it wasn’t going to be possible to get gazebo’s up on the concrete. After checkign the layout plan we set to and with the help of a small team of volunteers of all ages got the kitchen set up as “Ange’s Tea Shop”, sorted out the technical glitches and got the Bee Movie running for kids of all ages and got the tables set up ready for all those coming along to either sell or share skills:
Ican confirm the cupcake and honeycake was lovely but the little bee was helped by my daughter to buzz off into her tummy so I’m assuming that too was nice!
My friend’s children loved the Scrapstore zone ( please click the link and visit their shiny new website) where they made beesfrom buttons and pipe cleaners and wings from old net curtains and wires.
We had some lovely raffle prizes from Neals Yard and Red Beehive
Friends of the Earth and Slow Food taught us how to look afte bees and demonstrated what a world without bees would taste like
And LeezBees came along and showed how to make homes for solitary bees and got the children involved in making their own
And what did I do?
Well I started off by knitting and crocheting 14 mini bees, 12 of which were hidden around the garden. The children then had to find them and tell a volunteer where they were for some sweeties! We popped one in a banana palm on the theory that bees and bananas have a similar colour and it would be a great place to hide :-). Others lurked in lavender, huddled in holes and trailed around trees and one Queen Bee decided to hide by my feet in a plant pot, so she could approve of any additions the Beemakers created for her hive!
I also whipped up this cute toddler bee hat (which will be available in my shop soon) for the raffle.
2 little bees were chosen as models for my bee making workshop – I supplied knitting needles, crochet hooks, yarn and stuffing and got people making bees! I was also selling bees for 20p to those who wanted one but didn’t want to learn how to make their own. We also made up bee kits with 3 mini balls of yarn and a simple knitting and crochet pattern. They proved popular so I’ll be selling them at events this weekend too! I just need to decide how to use 14 busy bees now…. and I want to develop some bee lavender holders that can be hung in wardrobes – just got to dry some out now 🙂
My daughter with my little God Son Elliot – moments before he was covered in black icing having eaten the results of the biscuit decorating table. A great way to get kids eating digestives we soon discovered! Its good job Mum had a big box of baby wipes though!