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on behalf of the South East Essex Women's Environmental Network

Women's Environmental Network South East Essex WEN


Spring 2016

What a great time of year at the allotment!  Spring means lots of hard work
but we're beginning to see the results

Spring 2016

Start of a new season - 2016.

The Oak Tree

New planting

Our community allotment at Manchester Drive in Leigh is ready for the new growing season.  The potatoes are planted and  beds are ready for our salad and other crops.  We are having work sessions at the allotment on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday so if you fancy joining in please get in touch.  

It is a joy to get away from the traffic, do some work (according to what you are up to!) and then sit under the arbour for a cuppa and a chat.  Our beautiful oak tree (see pic) is a joy too in all seasons.

The group always welcomes newcomers so if you'd like to know more phone Pauline on 01702 712596 or Sharon on 079 4765 5947 (after 6)

News Archive:

End of another season 2014.............................................. Click Here

Group at Dig In September 2014

As we come towards the end of another season at 'DIG IN', our community allotment in Leigh, we are busy harvesting the results of our hard work. The fruit cage crop has been good. As we come towards the autumn we have something of a glut of cabbages and chard but there's lots of yummy recipes to make use all we can pick.

Our friends from Cedar Lodge and SummerDays (pictured) are a dab hand at watering which has been very useful during the dry spells this summer but we can always make time for a break with a cuppa and chat.

The flourishing plot 2014.................................................... Click Here

The plot is flourishing - on Sunday 29th June we picked:- courgettes,chard, spinach,herbs,loads of salad leaves and delicious berries.

A group of Wennies went along to the MDAS BBQ on Wednesday evening. The food and company was great.  Towards the end of the evening we WENNIES took a stroll around the allotment site, it's really interesting and inspiring to see what other plot holders are growing including some lovely flowers. Which of course are vital to attracting the 'pollinators'.

In the next few weeks we will be planting a lavender border along the front of our allotment, hopefully we will see it flourish over the next couple of years.

Re-vamping the pond 2014................................................ Click Here

Re-vamping the pond

community volunteers from WaitroseThursday 8th May 2014 the Dig In allotment was a hive of activity with community volunteers from Waitrose working on re-vamping our pond area which had been damaged by wildlife and which had begun to look more like a swamp than a pond. 

We were assured that creatures living in the pond might well have taken refuge in the mud in the bottom so we carefully removed that before the work was done and replaced some of it once the bog garden area next to the pond was complete.

As the work was underway we had a visit from a group of children from Darlinghurst Primary School which is our nearest school and the children showed quite an interest in what was happening.  We invited them to return to see how the pond develops later in the year.

The allotment is looking healthy and bountiful just now -  lots of produce already planted, bean sticks erected and strawberries netted to deprive the birds of their feast.

Thanks to 'My Garden Ltd'  2014.................................... Click Here

Thanks to 'My Garden Ltd'  

We'd like to thank In My Garden Ltd., a lovely family-run business in Wiltshire, for their kind generosity in donating a box of meadow-flower seeds for our allotment.  The seeds will cover an area 30msquare and are specially selected to compat the dastardly aphids  while being friendly to pollinating insects. The company say they are low maintenance ... low watering ... supply 3 - 4 months of flowers and are generally good for the environment.  Pay us a visit at DIG IN later in the summer and we hope to show you the result.

Allotment Lunch Safari 2013........................................... Click Here


We ‘Wennies’ like to try out new ideas and break new ground.  No surprise then when the group joined together at the Manchester Drive allotments for a ‘safari’ lunch on Sunday 22nd September 2013.

Safari Lunch

Since the group set up a community allotment at Manchester Drive five years ago, some of their members have branched out and taken on plots of their own.  Very convenient when you want a four-course meal made mainly from produce grown on the allotments. ‘On safari’ we simply moved from one plot (and one course!) to the next …   First up were Sharon’s starters with marrow jam, pickles and strawberry jam.  Then it was on to Helen’s for her soup and home-made bread. Jackie, Alma and partners then came up with a choice of curries and the whole banquet  (as indeed it was!) finished at the WEN community plot with an array of cakes and desserts, coffee and tea.

Safari Food

Although there were some ingredients which we couldn’t claim we had grown (Helen hasn’t yet got round to growing wheat for her home-made bread!), there was a creative use of our own huge range of veggies and fruit.

Safari Lunch
Safari Lunch

A fun day all round and as we went off in mid-afternoon fully replenished we had no need to go home to cook a Sunday roast!

The group always welcomes newcomers so if you'd like to know more phone Pauline on 01702 712596 or Sharon on 079 4765 5947 (after 6)

Summer has come at last! 2013..................................... Click Here

Summer has come at last! The allotment is looking great thanks to the hard work of all our volunteers



The allotment is looking great thanks to the hard work of all our volunteers

Summer has come at last!  The workers take a well-earned rest under the willow arbour.






Summer has come at last! 
The workers take a well-earned rest under the willow arbour.


Big Dig Open Day 2013....................................................... Click Here

BIG DIG Open Day

Dig In March 2013As part of the nation-wide BIG DIG event which aims to encourage us all to grow our own food, S E Essex WEN group held an open day at their community allotment at Manchester Drive, Leigh on Sea, on Saturday 16th March.  Unfortunately the weather was pretty dire - wet, cold and windy - so only the group's stalwart few turned up and they didn't manage to get much digging done!  It was just a question of clearing the shed so that seven chairs could be squeezed in ready for a cuppa and chat, with plans being made for the coming growing season.  The allotment seems to have come through the ravages of winter with only a few mishaps such as the pigeons breaking through the netting and helping themselves to our broccoli and the badgers ripping the pond liner as they go for a drink.  Still, the group is undaunted and looks forward to getting to work once the weather picks up a little.

The group always welcomes newcomers so if you'd like to know more phone Pauline on 01702 712596 or Sharon on 079 4765 5947 (after 6)

'Dig In' September 2012..................................................... Click Here

Our community allotment - DIG IN - was bursting with produce and we struggled to keep up with the harvest of beans, spinach, sweet corn and chard. And then there are those courgettes - you only had to turn your back and they transformed seemingly overnight into huge marrows!

Harvest Lunch Sept 12With the growing season coming to an end at the DIG IN allotment in Leigh, a merry group of about 20 'diggers', family and friends celebrated the harvest with a meal at the plot at lunchtime on Saturday 15th September.  And what a meal it was....  made mainly from produce from the plot there was a wonderful curry, quiches, pastas and salads followed by cakes of all sorts including carrot cake and apple cake.  The weather was kind so, sitting beside our DIG IN shed under the shade of our big oak tree, whiling away a few hours among friends ...  what could be nicer?! 

We are nurturing our pumpkins for soup because plans are going ahead for our Apple Weekend Harvest Supper on October 20th which was a really enjoyable occasion last year. We are looking forward to an evening of good food and fun and games among friends old and new. The pumpkin soup promises to be as yummy as last year and we can't wait to try out the various favourite apple desserts which we all contribute. Come along and bring your own favourite apple dessert - but please bring along the recipe too. .

If you'd like to come along to see if 'DIG IN' might be for you then call Pauline on 01702 712596 or Sharon on 079 4765 5947 (after 6)


 Life, Death and Sex at 'Dig In' May 2011................... Click Here


What a lovely, lovely, morning at DIG IN today (Friday 6th May). Unfortunately the young people from Summer Care, who normally come along on a Friday morning, didn't turn up because Anna who brings them was on leave. So, there was just the three of us - myself, Sue and Geoff. We noticed that the plot is looking really good. Lots of hard work done by Pauline and her diggers.

Sue did lots of watering – she studied the list of what needed watering which Pauline had put up on the shed and carefully recorded the water we had put on Sharon's research bed – while Geoff struggled to get to grips with our newly-serviced lawn mower. He said the mower was fine but that we really need a strimmer to get the grass under control. Once the grass is shorter our new mower will keep on top of it. (The strimmer which Anna gave us is still being mended).

After a cuppa and piece of iced bun under the shade of our wonderful huge oak tree I turned my attention to the raised bed of salad leaves bed which is a joy. All those lovely leaves of various colours and tastes. Over breakfast that morning I had been reading 'Salad Leaves for All Seasons' by Charles Dowding and I resolved to do better by our raised salad bed! If only I can make sure we harvest the leaves as they are ready and sow new seeds as replacements, the theory is that we can have those lovely leaves all year round (as long as we make sure the slugs and pesky pigeons don't get them first).

** By the way – I have recently been reading another wonderful book called 'The Monk Who Sold his Ferrari' which I picked up from our latest swishing table (not sure who put it there) and it was suggested there that your health can be massively improved if you accompany every meal with a plate of salad so I'm going to give that a try!)

I digress … just as I was finishing fussing around the salad bed, along came John (Longhurst) who knows a bit about ponds and has agreed to come over now and then to monitor just what is happening in our pond … what creatures take up residence and how we should manage the life of the pond. It seems to boil down to minimal interference, although John did suggest we can speed up the diversity of life in the pond by introducing daphnia (which looks like a water flea but John tells me isn't a flea at all). Sue is hoping to get some for next week.

We also have the problem of plastic lining still showing round the edges. The pond plants are slowly spreading round but the 'beach' area (left shallow for creatures to venture in for a drink) still looks very plasticky. John suggested we get a couple of grass turves and put them along the 'beach' upside down. We can then get some wild flower seed specially chosen for damp places and sprinkle them along. The turves will sort of act like wicks and keep wet and, hopefully, we will be rewarded by a fine display of water edge plant-life.

We spent a very very pleasant half hour pond watching. It's amazing what John knows about ponds. He immediately spotted several damselflies who were mating – the male on top of the female and forcing her down into the water so she would lay her eggs under the duck weed. (So, from now on we'll have to stop using our little fishing net to keep the duckweed under control).
Pond skaters whizzing about on the surface. Snail trails in the mud at the bottom of the pond.
John also suggested we could introduce some more water snails but said that if I bring some from home I will have to put my snails in a 'quarantine' jar for a week or so to make sure they aren't infested with parasite worms which would be transferred to our DIG IN pond. By watching the snails in the quarantine jar for a few days we will be able to observe whether any parasitical worms emerge from the snail to come out to feed. If, after a few days, no worms emerge, we can assume the snails are clean and so introduce them to DIG IN for a long and happy life unless, of course, some other predator takes a fancy to them. In fact, as John described it, life at the pond is not only an orgy of sex among the damselflies but a battle for life between predators and victims!

John donated a magnifying glass to DIG IN and suggested that when we have a few people around he would come along with a white inspection tray and we can all do some pond dipping just to see who has taken up residence. He's also planning to do some line drawings for us to display on the shed.


 Bonfire Party 6th November 2010 (with recipes) ... Click Here


Bonfire Party

FireworksThe DIG IN plot was turned into a fairyland of twinkling lights for our annual bonfire party on Saturday when we were blessed with ...

  • Good weather - not too cold & no rain!
  • Yummy food - everyone brought something including veggie chilli & pumpkin soup made from produce from the plot (see below).
  • A roaring bonfire - didn't the men have fun making that!
  • And a finale of a sparkling fireworks display.

  • Altogether a jolly evening among friends.

Thanks to everyone who made the evening such a success but especially to Pauline who in her usualy efficient style made it all look so easy.

Although the winter will fast be upon us there is still work to be done so if you fancy a few hours away from the gradually-building frantic-ness (that's not really a word but it says what I mean!) of Christmas then do go down to DIG IN for a session of quiet contemplation and work. But be sure to phone the Chief Digger for the session before you go.

Recipes from the party:


  • Heat 2tbsp olive oil in a large pan, add 1 chopped onion and 2 crushed garlic cloves and cook for a few mins to soften.
  • Add 700g pumpkin flesh and 2 sweet pots, peeled and roughly chopped.
  • Cook for 2 mins before adding 1.2 litres of veg stock (I used 2 stock cubes). Season with salt and ground black pepper, cover and bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 mins until tender.
  • If you like add 200 ml of Alpro soya light alternative to milk into the soup and whizz everything together in a blender in batches until smooth.
  • Return to pan and gently warm to serve (it does bubble a bit, so keep stirring!).
  • Pour into bowls and enjoy - recipe says to add a swirl of cream to bowls if you wish.


  • Preheat overn to 180 degrees C/350 degrees F/Gas Mark 4, 10 mins before baking time. Lightly oil and line bases of 2 x 8 inch sandwich tins with greaseproof or baking paper.
  • Thinly slice 2 eating apples (peeled) and toss in 4 tbsp of brown sugar until well coated. Arrange them over the base of the prepared tins and reserve.
  • Cream together 175g/6 oz butter or marge and same amount of caster sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat 3 med eggs together in a small bowl and gradually beat them into the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.
  • Sift 175g/6oz SR flour into the mixture and fold in. Divide mixture between 2 cake tins containing apple and level surface.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins until golden and well risen. Leave in tins to cool.
  • Lightly whip 150ml/quarter pint of double cream with 1 tbsp of icing sugar and half tsp of vanilla essence. Sandwich cakes together with cream. Mix 1 tbsp of icing sugar and half tsp of ground cinnamon together and sprinkle over top of cake and enjoy!
 Pictorial Update September 2010... ............................ Click Here

 Sunday 12th September 2010

The Pond
The Pond The Pond
The Allotment
The Allotment The Allotment
The Allotment The Allotment
The Allotment The Allotment
The Allotment The Allotment


 The POND... ............................................................................ Click Here

  Sunday 12th September 2010

SEEWEN Pond - 12th Sept 2010 SEEWEN Pond - 12th Sept 2010

 Saturday 7th August 2010

Thanks to a lot of hard work from Dave we have now completed construction of the pond, together with an attractive surround of turf and a shallow 'beach' area to allow wildlife to access the water for a drink or a bath. We are just watching anxiously to see if the pebbles/gravel on the sloping beach area migrates into the bottom of the pond. It was pointed out that we have quite a lot of gnat larvae on the surface of the pond but Carol said she thinks this is something common when ponds are first set up but that after the pond has settled down the larvae will disappear. So, we will wait to see what happens. In the meantime we are rather proud of our new pond and await with interest to see which wild creatures decide to visit or make it their home. Once again, if anyone is interested in helping us to monitor life on (in) the pond please do get in touch.

 Monday 2nd August 2010

SEEWEN PondFor some weeks now we have been digging away to make a wildlife pond in our 'quiet corner' of the plot. We are making a willow arbour and have plans to make a seat from reuseable materials - pallets and the like. Anyone who can help with making the seat please get in touch!

The pond is now fully dug and lined and is partially filled with water. We've just got to make a shallow area for 'marginal' plants and then we will wait to see what little creatures decide to make our pond their home. We plan to have a dip (just a jam jar, not us swimming!) a month after the pond is set up to see what is living there. Be great if we could go dipping regularly and keep a record of what is in the pond ... frogs? those little creatures who skate on the surface? even sticklebacks or minnows? As you can see my knowledge of just what is in a pond is pretty limited - wouldn't it be great if someone with an interest and some knowledge would come along to help us make a 'log' of life in our pond? Nothing too heavy or time consuming .. but fun and a lot of learning!

SEEWEN Pond 1st August 2010 SEEWEN Pond 1st August 2010
SEEWEN Pond 1st August 2010 SEEWEN Pond 1st August 2010

Watch this space for the ongoing story of pond life in Leigh!


 New Plot in 2010... .............................................................. Click Here


We have now taken over a second adjoining plot and work is underway planting potatoes, raspberries and fruit trees.

We are also planning a 'quite corner' at the back of the second plot where we are hoping to construct a willow arbour overlooking a wildlife pond. If you'd like to join in then please get in touch.

Now the Spring has arrived we are usually at the plot on Friday mornings and over the weekend. If you'd like to pop down to see what we are up to, phone :
Eileen on 078 1369 3107 for Friday morning sessions and
Carol on 01702 342148 for the weekend


 Produce from 2009 .............................................................. Click Here

As we come to the end of our first growing season we are really pleased with our great harvest! Since taking over the plot less than 12 months ago we’ve harvested ...

167 lbs potatoes
220 lbs tomatoes
26 lbs of runner beans (plus a few Berlotti)
16 lbs of onions
Sweet corn (the badgers liked them too!)
Sunflowers Carrots (some were a bit small)
Chard (we’ve tried some new recipes)
Lettuce (lots)
Sweet peas
Sunflowers (we’ve left the seed heads for the birds)
Horseradish (it was in residence when we arrived!)
Parsley (its still going strong)


 Bonfire Party 7th November 2009 ................................. Click Here


Bonfire Party

FireworksJust imagine the scene: The bonfire is blazing, the soup and beannie stew are bubbling away, the fireworks are whizzing and the moon shines brightly down on the happy folk who turned out for WEN’s bonfire party at our community food-growing project ‘DIG IN’ on Saturday 7th November. Now aren’t you sorry you didn’t come along!!?

Our ‘WENdy House’ shed was put to good use as the kitchen and Sue turned up with a wonderful range of desserts. Mulled apple juice went down well and Carol’s part-cooked jacket potatoes were giving the finishing touch in the embers of the fire.

Our apologies to our neighbours the badgers who were sensible enough to keep their distance and and we’d like to give early notice to them that we are planning another nocturnal event for the summer solstice 2010. I guess they might forgive us for partying at the plot just twice a year!


 Open Day 21st March 2009 ............................................... Click Here



Open day at the plotJust three months after taking over a bramble covered plot on the Manchester Drive allotments in Leigh for their food growing project, S E Essex Women's Environment were able to hold an Open Day at the plot on Saturday.

The shoulder-high brambles had been cleared, ground covered with cardboard and manure and early potatoes planted; advice had been sought on how to live in harmony with the badgers at the back of the plot; beds had begun to be laid out and rhubarb was planted; and finally a shed (named the WENdy House!) had been erected ready for tea-making.

Open day at the plotThe Open Day was very well supported by neighbouring plot holders, representatives of the Manchester Drive Allotment Society and the Leigh Council and lots of potential new group members. A good explanation was given of how the scheme will operate - a sticker will be awarded for every hour worked and this will be exchanged for produce at harvest time - and some visitors joined in making plant holders from newspaper and planting seeds.

The scheme is yet to be named but lots of suggestions were made from which visitors were asked to vote their favourite.

For information on how to find out more or join the scheme please contact :
Carol on 01702 342148 or Pauline on 01702 712596


 Grant Allocation: 2nd February 2009 .......................... Click Here

We have been allocated a grant which we plan to use to erect a shed and storage box and to lay paths and clear a sitting area.

The work was held up for a short time while we explored some holes which were at the back of the plot. Either foxes or badgers were recently using the holes so we are having to take expert advice on how to progress. News is that there are no badgers on the allotments so we are hopeful our neighbours are foxes who are easier to live with than badgers who might be tempted to dig for their dinner on our newly-cultivated plot!

We have put down a layer of cardboard covered with a layer of manure and are ready for potato planting once the weather begins to warm up, hopefully in March.

We welcome new members to share in the work, the fun and the produce!

 In the beginning! .................................................................. Click Here

We have been allocated an allotment in Manchester Drive , Leigh-on-Sea and plan to use it to encourage people who are keen to grow food but would not otherwise have the opportunity to do so.

The allotment was covered with nettles and is in need of considerable work inputWe intend to use a permaculture/no dig/organic approach to food growing as far as possible.

Our gardening group will be open to anyone who is looking for the opportunity, horticultural advice and social encouragement that we offer. We aim to circulate local groups for participants in the scheme and we will target people who are single parents, those who are socially isolated and women from ethnic minority groups.

The allotment we have been allocated was covered with nettles (see attached photos) and is in need of considerable work input. The nettles and brambles have already been cut down and we intend to cover the ground with cardboard and a layer of straw/manure/compost mulch. We'll then wait until Spring before we plant early potatoes.

We have applied for a grant to help to pay for capital equipment such as a shed, polytunnel (so that we can work on the plot throughout the year), paths, days rent of a lorry to carry straw & manure, raised beds (especially high raised beds to facilitate gardening for people with a disability), tools,initial ground clearance and compost.


The allotment food growing project The allotment food growing project The allotment food growing project

Do keep an eye on this web site for regular updates. To benefit the wider community we intend to circulate information about what we are doing as much as possible. An Evening Echo features writer will also report at intervals on how the plot is developing. We will keep an on-going log and are hoping to add a blog soon.

We will be meeting for coffee at about 10.30 on the first Saturday in the month, if you'd like to come along please phone EIleen on 01268 752264 for venue

We shall also be holding bi-monthly open days during the summer months . These are intended to inform people about permaculture and organic horticulture and encourage more people to grow their own - naturally!

During the winter months we might not always be at the allotment for our usual sessions but if you fancy going along just to see how the plot is going or to help us with some winter tidying up tasks please get in touch to arrange for someone to be there. Otherwise you might find the gate locked.

Friday mornings Eileen on 01268 752264

More Information ................ click here


Aim - To encourage and facilitate individuals and families who would like to grow food and who would welcome the opportunity, support and horticultural training our plot aims to provide.

The Project – We are renting an allotment in Manchester Drive, Leigh. Although the allotment will be accessible at all times to suit the group members, project facilitators will be key-holders and will aim to be at the allotment at regular times to provide support. Although the project will be run on informal lines, we will draw up and discuss with new group members the group’s expectations of their involvement.

The ‘Vision’ – We aim to encourage anyone keen to grow food to join the group but we will particularly be targeting single parents, those who are socially isolated and people from ethnic minority groups.

The way forward – The project is in its ‘fledgling’ stage at present but it is being launched by a group of women with enthusiasm and not inconsiderable horticultural knowledge/experience. Two of the women are school teachers with links with SureStart and Family Centres. A third member of the group is a retired social worker with experience of community development projects.

SEEWEN AllotmentRecruitment - The intention is to contact local groups/contacts to recruit group members.

Finance - We have been granted £4,000 by Essex Community Development Foundation with which we intend to erect a shed and polytunnel, to lay paths and a sitting area and to buy tools and seeds/plants.

Training and Networking - As the scheme develops we hope to provide more formal training for group members and to keep in touch with local horticultural organisations such as S E Essex Organic Gardeners and Growing Together.

SEEWEN Allotment SEEWEN Allotment SEEWEN Allotment SEEWEN Allotment SEEWEN Allotment SEEWEN Allotment
We hired a truck and got a load of straw and manure and cardboard to mulch a half of the plot.  in March we will plant the potatoes ..


For further information contact:
Pauline on 01702 712596 or
Eileen on 01268 752264
or visit :

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