Unison’s contribution to the independence debate is welcome

The Scottish independence debate should be framed in terms of what will lead to more local decision-making and a more active democracy; it’s viewing independence as a tactic to gain more local control rather than treating independence as a strategic goal. And so I’m pleased to see Unison Scotland’s A Fairer Scotland report which starts by defining the positive characteristics we want for a society, and argues that these should be debated first to give us a way of choosing between the referendum options.

The characteristics Unison defines makes me pleased to be a member of that union.

And I’m still not voting for the union. I’m undecided, in the sense that it’s Yes or a spoiled ballot paper for me.

As an addendum, here’s a link to the Christie Commission report that’s quoted in the Unison document.


Theory informs, but practice convinces – George Bain at the Galleries on the mound

First committee meeting of the Saughton Mains Allotment Association this morning, where I learnt about the role of treasurer and the bean-counting that entails. We also heard about the other assets and duties that the committee is responsible for, which includes maintaining the composting loo. There was a diversion into the relative merits of sawdust versus leafmould for the bulk material that goes in a composting loo, and a move to get some training on how to maintain our loo. I think this is a critical piece of infrastructure and allows us to recycle the nutrients, so I’m keen to get involved.

Coincidentally, the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia has just published this piece on urine closes the NPK loop.

I then had some time to kill before I collected the family coming back from Glasgow, so popped into the galleries on the mound to visit the exhibition on George Bain and Celtic Art [1][2]. It’s not a big exhibition, yet it touches on both celtic knotwork theory and examples of rugs, ceramics and a bracelet. I was particularly taken by the phrase theory informs, but practice convinces.

This exhibition is tucked away at the back of the galleries. That’s great because near to the exhibition space there’s a few paintings from the late C19th which focus on vegetables and the horticulture trade. Arthur Melville’s Cabbage Garden was shown at last year’s blockbuster Impressionist Gardens and there’s a couple of other stunners. I always love the chance to look at these pictures. I’m intrigued by the note that I only saw today, that “vegetable garden subjects were popular among artists throughout Europe in the late 1870s and 1880s” — perhaps scope to follow up here.

Depicts a vegetable stall with rhubarb, leeks, cabbages and root vegetables

The vegetable stall, William York MacGregor

A cabbage garden, with a labourer stopping work to talk to a lady

A cabbage garden, Arthur Melville

No patents on plants and animals! Petition the EU online

There’s an Open letter To Members of the European Parliament and European Commission, calling for an urgent re-think of European patent law in biotechnology and plant breeding. Ten years of patents on plants and animals show that the negative impacts of the European Patent Directive cannot be ignored:

  • There is a negative impact on innovation as breeders are not allowed to use the patented plants, animals or genetic material freely for further breeding.
  • Patents have been the engine behind tremendous market concentration in the seed sector, destroying competition and forcing small and medium enterprises out of the market.
  • Patents lead to higher prices for farmers, less choice for consumers and a negative impact on agro-biodiversity.

Go sign the petition. Thanks!

Redhall Walled Garden plant sale, 20% off

I just received this from the Shandon Local Food Group mailing list. What better way to celebrate the good weather than by getting some plants in the ground :)

Redhall Walled Garden Plant Sale

*Fantastic Plants for Great Prices*

20% off all plants (see attached list )
Free delivery within 10 mile radius for orders over £100*
Phone 0131 443 0946 or pop in to see us
Support a great charity
Don’t miss out – sale ends 1st Feb 2012
Thanks for your support and hope to see you soon.

Redhall Walled Garden

97 Lanark Road

Edinburgh EH14 2LZ

Fax : 0131 455 7561

Open Monday to Friday 9am – 3:30pm

*Other deliveries can be arranged at a reasonable cost, please just give us a call.

Plant Lists in stock Sept 2011

Walk and Talk Day at the Royal Edinburgh Community Garden : Saturday 19 March

Please drop in to the Royal Edinburgh Community Garden on Saturday 19th March from 12-3pm to share your ideas for the development of the garden in 2011.

Volunteers will be on hand to tell you about the progress made in the garden in 2010 and to provide guided walks around the site. We will have site maps available for you to draw or write your ideas for playing and growing in the garden.

Please note that this is not your only chance to input into the development of the garden – stop in on any of the open days Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday from 10am-4pm and share your ideas.

Edinburgh community food delivers!

Our household has ordered a couple of deliveries from Edinburgh Community Food, and we’re impressed.

They’re a voluntary sector food supplier that has a good model for buying food: order up to 10am the day before delivery and receive a box full of fruit, vegetables and groceries the next. The range of produce is good and much is sourced locally. They also provide produce to several food co-ops around Edinburgh, including Gorgie Farm.

She who knits and our two daughters are intolerant to dairy products so we get through a lot of eggs. We’re especially happy because their organic eggs which are both local and good value.

The younger daughter is also happy because they deliver in cardboard boxes:

Daughter in a box!

daughter's arm through a hole in the box

It’s better than the standard box scheme in because you can order what you want from a relatively large list, and you’re not fixed to the same day every week. I worry that this is only possible because they’re a mid-scale supplier, and when (if?) they grow, this part of the service may not be sustainable.