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Sustainable Blewbury Forthcoming Activities and Events

APPLE JUICING 2023 – Sunday afternoons, 2 to 4 pm at Blewbury Manor:
LAST public session 22 October

Bring WASHED APPLES (bad bits removed, but no need to remove cores) and your own clean bottles or containers. (Sorry, we can't supply bottles.)

COST: £1.50 to press a large bucket or basket of apples.

PASTEURISING: So your juice will keep for up to a year. Must use GLASS screw-top wine or drink bottles only.
COST: 30p per bottle.
Note that it takes a while, so you MUST arrive before 3.00 pm. Also note that you can freeze unpasteurised juice in plastic bottles.

TOO MANY APPLES or TOO LATE for our public sessions?

You can HIRE our equipment at reasonable cost: £15 in Blewbury, £20 elsewhere (for 24 hours). Contact us at info@sustainable-blewbury.org.uk or 07935 232296.

NEXT REPAIR CAFE: Our next repair cafe will be in the Village Hall at 2pm on 19th November, more details to follow (in the November Bulletin).

We have a substantial and expanding programme of activities in and around the village. Getting involved is fun and can make a very positive contribution to village life and the local environment. If you’d like to get involved, or to receive our free Newsletter, email us at info@sustainable-blewbury.org.uk or phone John Ogden at 01235 850372.

Previous Sustainable Blewbury events

Wytham Wood

Writers getting creative with Sustainable Blewbury: 19 June 2023

Dr Alice Little, writer in residence at Wytham Woods (www.wythamwoods.ox.ac.uk/home) guided us through engaging exercises, to help us craft compelling narratives inspired by Blewbury’s past and our natural environment.

Repair Cafe: 26 March 2023

Another successful afternoon of fixing and sharpening. A new feature this time was a specialist repairer of old clocks.


Kate Henderson, FarmED: 6 March 2023

Kate described the origins of this visionary, not-for-profit and award-winning enterprise – its educational resources as well as its mix of trial plots, grassland management, micro dairy, heritage orchard, tree planting and natural flood management scheme.

New Projects Launch: Blewbury Nature Reserve and Quaker Wood – 25 February 2023

Our vision for a Blewbury Nature Reserve and Community Woodland was officially launched with a guided walk to the sites, an exhibition of how things are going, what is planned and how they’ll benefit our village for generations to come. In the evening there was a specially written musical show (by Catie Flye and friends) to mark the occasion. There is are more pictures on our news page

nature reserve evening musical
Repair cafe

Repair Cafe: 5 February 2023

Our sixth repair cafe again drew lots of 'customers' and many items were sharpened and repaired.

David Harber Studios: 30 January 2023

`David Harber

Peter Hood, operations director described their award-winning outdoor sculptures with an international reputation (and based just outside Blewbury). Peter’s talk covered the Studio's continuing work to achieve net-zero carbon, and their their partnership with RAIN in Brazil, providing carbon offsetting services for indigenous nations nationally and locally. David's sculptures use materials such as brass, copper, bronze, stainless steel, and stone. All of David’s artworks have been inspired by naturally occurring forms in nature, with the environment at the centre of everything his company creates.

Clearing leaves from village paths – the Great Blewbury Rake-Off: 20 November 2022

Sylva Foundation

We had a good turnout to clear a lot of soggy, muddy leaves from the main footpaths.

Nurturing our woods: growing our futures – George Dennison: 14 November 2022

George is Forest Manager at the Sylva Foundation, a charity based locally in Long Wittenham. The Sylva Wood Centre is a hub for local craftspeople ranging from furniture making and outdoor structures, to boatbuilding and upholstery. George oversees the myForest platform, supporting over 8,500 users who collectively manage over 7% of Britain’s privately owned forests. His talk comes at just the right time for Blewbury as we embark on creating a community woodland for the village.

Repair Cafe: 6 November 2022

Repair cafe

The fifth in our series was delayed due to the death of Queen Elizabeth, but it was our most successful repair cafe so far.

Repair Cafe: 12 June 2022

The fourth in in our series of waste-reducing repair cafes was again successful.

Repair Cafe: 3 April 2022

The third in in our series of waste-reducing repair cafes, for free repairs to a wide range of things like electronic and electrical gadgets, toys and furniture, tool sharpening, clothing and textiles, and mechanical items including bikes, was another success. As expected at this time of year a lot of garden tools needed sharpening, we had an excellent bike repairer and expertise on fixing odd faults on old electronic goods and kitchen gadgets.

Repair cafe Repair cafe Repair cafe Repair cafe
Mill Brook

The Life and Times of an English Chalk Stream – Paul St. Pierre and Glen Meadows: 28 March 2022

There are only 200 chalk streams in the world, 85% of which are in England. In Blewbury, we know just how precious they are. Paul discussed importance of our chalk streams, how they have been damaged, how they are being restored to their former glory and some things to do and not do. Glen presented a guide to some of the many species found in Blewbury, concentrating on invertebrates in our streams.

Sustainable Homes for the Future – Ian Pritchett: 31 January 2022

Greencore house

Who hasn’t questioned the absurdity of building thousands of new homes out of concrete, steel and petrochemical based materials? Often badly constructed, with defective insulation and poor airtightness, many new homes have a design life of less than 50 years and will end up in landfill as virtually nothing can be recycled. Ian Pritchett and his company Greencore are trying to change all this, as he explained in his very clear talk.

Village leaves clearance: 28 November 2021

A big turnout to help clear the village footpaths. Special thanks to David Hollick, who drove the Parish Council tractor and trailer around collecting the more than 100 black bags full of leaves, assisted by Glen Meadows.

Marianne's book

Old House to Eco House: making your historic home more energy efficient – Marianne Suhr: 18 October 2021

Marianne covered a wide variety of the main factors to consider, how not to fix things and what to use to do it right and not ruin historical features. Relevant for both very old houses and, in many cases, later single-walled but not modern houses. Numerous local examples were discussed.

Repair Cafe: 19 September 2021

RepairCafe logo

This was our first Repair Cafe after Covid restrictions were relaxed, and a pleasing number of people attended. Our experts mended everything from an old but loved chair to a hairdryer to a diesel strimmer, and masses of garden tools were sharpened. The homemade cakes and coffee were very popular, and we would like to thank people for their generous donations towards our expenses.

The mind-blowing truth about our food – Anthony Simpson: 9 March 2020

Food crop rows

Anthony presented a wealth of interesting and often unexpected data and facts about food and its impact on our planet, including the greenhouse gas emissions of various types of food, deforestation to grow crops for producing meat, diets that could feed more than 10 billion people, what sort of diet is sustainable in a net-zero carbon world, how to achieve a balanced plant-based diet, how much attention should be paid to food miles, and various other points.

Our first Repair Cafe: 29 February 2020

RepairCafe logo

A repair cafe combines getting something fixed, saving money and helping to save the planet with a cup of coffee or tea and home-made cake all at the same time. We had volunteers to sharpen tools and knives, do electrical and mechanical repairs, help with sewing and upcycling clothes, fix bikes, and stick things back together. Seventeen volunteers spent a total of 60 hours organising and running the repair café. Forty people attended, bringing 51 items, and we mended (or sharpened) 41 of them. We plan to do it again, perhaps every two or three months.

The Adventures of a Wildlife Cameraman – Sean Morris: 27 January 2020


Sean travelled the world for 40 years, filming animals and plants for TV, often in remote and exotic locations. In 1968, seven biologists from Oxford University, united by the thrill of filming animals and plants, started a company called Oxford Scientific Films (OSF). OSF soon became the world’s leading independent wildlife film company, and invented many of the specialist techniques now commonly used to create today’s block-buster wildlife series. These dramatically enhanced how the wonders of the natural world could be communicated to the public. The talk described how a little company near Woodstock achieved that, and about the fun and excitement they had while capturing some of nature’s most fascinating stories on film. The talk was accompanied by clips from an Emmy-winning OSF film about plants and animals in the Sonora desert.

Village leaves clearance: 24 November 2019

Leaf clearing

This was the fourth year that we ran this together with Blewbury Primary School, finishing with coffee or tea and homemade cakes at The Blueberry. Ms. Costello and 14 school children started by clearing Curtoys Lane few days earlier (photo). They thoroughly enjoyed doing it, and wanted to do it again next year.

The aim is to rake up enough soggy leaves to make the footpaths safer with the help of volunteer villagers and members of the Parish Council. Once again we would like to thank David Hollick, the village lengthsman, for volunteering to deliver the leaves to the keen gardeners who will use them as a mulch. We are very grateful to Mariana at The Blueberry for providing hot drinks, and to SB supporters for their tasty cakes.

Sustainable jet fuel from rubbish – how does that work? – Dr. Neville Hargreaves: 1 April 2019

jetfuel from rubbish

Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions of aviation is tougher than for any other form of transport – and emissions are growing fast. Neville is working with British Airways and others on an exciting project to build the UK’s first commercial sustainable jet-fuel plant. This will convert household waste into jet fuel – reducing greenhouse gases and converting hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste that would otherwise be incinerated or put into landfill. He described how the process works, what it can do for the environment present and future, and the many practical challenges of bringing a really big industrial project to fruition. A share of the profits were donated to Blewbury Village Hall refurbishment.

Climate for electric cars? – Anthony Simpson: 25 February 2019

Due to climate change and air pollution, the shift from diesel and petrol towards electric vehicles is accelerating and many people are considering going electric for their next car. Anthony described the latest developments, as well as making the environmental case for electric cars and explaining how to minimise their effect on the electricity grid so it can cope without problems, There was a lively discussion after the talk. A share of the profits were donated to Climate Outreach.

Village leaves clearance: 2 December 2018

Every autumn we clear our village footpaths of slippery fallen leaves. This was the third year that we ran this together with Blewbury Primary School to help make it a family occasion, and that we finished with coffee or tea and homemade cakes at The Blueberry. Ms. Costello and Class 5 gave us a good start by clearing Curtoys Lane and the Playclose a few days earlier. They thoroughly enjoyed doing it, and we apologise to their parents for the state of their gloves afterwards!

We raked up enough soggy leaves to make the footpaths safer with the help of volunteer villagers and members of the Parish Council, and we would like to thank David Hollick, the village lengthsman, for volunteering to deliver the leaves to the keen gardeners who will use them as a mulch. We are very grateful to Mariana at The Blueberry for providing hot drinks, and to SB supporters for their tasty cakes.

Leafy path Leafy path Leafy path Leafy path
Apple juicing

Apple juicing 2018

This was a very mixed season – some trees produced large crops, others less and many almost none. This was reflected in the five public juicing sessions, four of which had fairly light attendance. Private hires were also down: seven this year compared to thirteen last year. So overall, activity was about half of last year's. On the bright side, the equipment was used to produce many hundreds of bottles of juice and we demonstrated juicing at Sustainable Blewbury’s 25th birthday event.


Adventures at the top and bottom of the world: some personal perspectives – Mark Blythe: 15 October 2018

Mark has ski-toured in both the Arctic (Greenland and Svalbard) and Antarctica. He described what it’s like to visit, live in and explore in these high latitudes, as well as wildlife, and the life of humans in the Arctic. He also covered environmental aspects, including climate change and the impact of krill fishing on the Southern Ocean. Profits donated to Penguin Lifelines.

Sustainable Blewbury 25th anniversary celebration: 30 September 2018

Sunday 30 September, 12–4 pm at Blewbury School

The Blewbury Village Society Environment Group began in August 1993. We celebrated with an exhibition of 25 of our successes in 25 years, and also an exhibition of work done by the Blewbury school children on the theme of sustainability. There was a barbecue and bar run by Blewbury school. The Blewbury Wagon was there, plus demonstrations of apple juicing, pond dipping and other activities for children. The Cob Wall committee celebrated the work to restore the Curtoys Lane Cob Wall.

cake display cutting the cake

The future of transport and transportation – Scott Witchalls: 24 September 2018

Scott is a Partner of development and infrastructure consultancy Peter Brett Associates, and has over 30 years experience in the field of transport planning and engineering. He described our travel behaviour and trends, transport benefits and impacts on the environment and society. Scott then moved on to summarise emerging technologies and what the future might hold for us, from autonomous cars to flying pods and widespread use of drones. He then discussed ways in which these developments could regulated and encouraged in ways that would improve rather than damage our environment. Profits donated to WaterAid

Tropical forests and climate change

Tropical forests, people and climate change – Dr. Catherine Long: 26 March 2018

Catherine Long (who grew up in Blewbury) talked about her work supporting local communities and indigenous peoples in Africa and Latin America to secure their rights to control and manage forests – and to engage in global debates on climate change and other issues that affect their lives directly. This includes deforestation and its causes, along with some success stories about community and indigenous managed forests, as well as recent information about wood pellets that affects the UK directly. Profits donated to the Rainforest Foundation.

Restoring England’s threatened chalk streams – Paul St. Pierre (Environment Agency): 5 March 2018


Paul St. Pierre showed and explained examples of work done to restore chalkland rivers, in particular the Kennet and Lambourn, to a capacity audience. This is also relevant to Blewbury’s Mill Brook. Chalk streams are a unique and rare habitat, typified by crystal clear waters and abundant wildlife. Southern England has the highest concentration of these rivers in the world. However, in recent decades they have deteriorated due to man’s involvement and climate change – but they are now being restored to their full glory! Profits donated to Water Aid.

Village leaves clearance: 3 December 2017

We had a very big turnout of people giving their time and effort to clear the footpaths, making this family event a success! We are especially grateful to The Blueberry for their hospitality in offering hot drinks in a warm place to go with the cakes afterwards, to all the people who baked the delicious home-made cakes, to Blewbury School for activities that got so many children involved, and to David Hollick and team for collecting all the bags of leaves.

apple juicing

Apple juicing 2017

This year’s apple crop was excellent for many people, and our apple juicing equipment was used more than ever. From late August to early November we held six public sessions: four at the Manor and one each at Blewbury School and the Red Lion. A huge quantity of apples was turned into pure juice that was pasteurised, frozen, drunk fresh or made into cider by people from Blewbury and elsewhere – some had come quite a distance. We also hired out the equipment 13 times, and had an interesting morning when we showed all the pupils at Windale School in Blackbird Leys how to make juice from apples they had prepared (organised by Susan Armstrong, a Blewbury resident who teaches there).

Climate Change: Growing Elephant, Shrinking Room – Prof. Eric Eisenhandler: 30 October 2017

There’s been a lot in the news about climate change, especially extreme weather, but the stories don’t often explain much and can be misleading. And in the UK, politicians are consumed by shorter term issues like Brexit.

warming cartoon

Eric’s talk explained climate change and its effects. Then he covered renewable energy, including recent progress in dealing with intermittent energy sources (wind and solar), and ended by summarising the UK situation. Eric’s slides can be viewed here (pdf).

Community Orchard Opening, Village Picnic and Barbecue: 11 June 2017

We celebrated the opening of the new orchard with a party: a village picnic and barbecue, with support from Blewbury Primary School PTA and the Pre-school. There was music from Blewbury Learner Brass Band and a range of activities for all ages: Pre-school annual kite flying, tug of war, welly wanging, story teller, pond dipping and a wide range of information posters about Sustainable Blewbury’s projects. We had a real ale bar (the ‘Wagon Inn’, backed by the Blewbury Wagon) and a stall selling cake using orchard and garden fruit.There are more photos of the event here.

There is full information about the orchard on our community orchard page.

community orchard trees community orchard picnic community orchard picnic
burrs and velcro

Emulating Nature’s Genius (sustainable engineering solutions) – Prof. George Jeronimidis: 15 May 2017

Studying how nature solves its engineering and materials problems has provided inspiration for solving our own problems. But just how did shark skin inspire the designers of the Airbus airliners, or burrs lead to the invention of velcro? Prof. Jeronimidis showed numerous examples past and present as well as a look at where this fascinating and rich field might be going in the near future.

Sustainable Blewbury Annual General Meeting and new projects: 6 April 2017


We had a full house at Blewbury School, including a large number of pupils with their parents, to see Sustainable Blewbury’s new projects for the school children: setting up nesting boxes equipped with small video cameras for birds, and camera traps for seeing wildlife such as deer, muntjacs, foxes, etc. around the village. We're also working with the school on its Biodome and gardens for the children to grow fruit and vegetables. Plus our other projects, including the community orchard, hedge laying, the garden market, apple juicing, permaculture, thermal imaging, etc. We also had a live exhibition of the tiny fauna living in the Mill Brook.

This enjoyable evening ended with a short Annual General Meeting.

Village leaves clearance: 27 November 2016

Our annual working party, organised by Sustainable Blewbury with support from the BVS and Parish Council, was very successful. A large number of people came to help, making short work of clearing the footpaths and collecting an amazing 180 bags of leaves. Blewbury Primary School and many school children got involved, making leaf crowns and having fun doing the work on a cold, grey day. At the end everyone was rewarded with lovely home-made cakes and the Blueberry provided a warm welcome with coffee and tea. Leaves were used to make leaf mould at the allotments and permaculture site, and surplus bags went off to Agrivert to be mixed with other garden waste (from our brown bins) to become compost in a much shorter time in Agrivert’s giant composting facility than we can ever manage in our small compost bins.

Leaf crown making Leaf crownCollecting the bags Off to Agrivert
Meers Parcel TI

Old Houses, Warm Houses – Marianne Suhr (Historic Buildings Surveyor): 16 November 2016

Marianne, author of ‘Old House Eco Handbook: A Practical Guide to Retrofitting for Energy-Efficiency & Sustainability’, expertly guided homeowners through a variety of options to prepare old houses for the winter months whilst retaining historic fabric. Her lively and fascinating talk focused particularly on her own house and the recent renovation of Meers Parcel in Blewbury as specific examples.

Apple events 2016

Another very successful and well-appreciated apple season. We had public apple juice pressings on six Sundays: three at the Manor, and one each at the School, the church Harvest Festival and the Red Lion (Apple Day, with a cake and plant sale by the Village Produce Association. In addition, a number of people hired our equipment to make juice at home.


Otters: Conservation and Ecology – Graham Scholey (Environment Agency): 11 October 2016

Graham Scholey, who is a leading biodiversity specialist, gave a fascinating, clear and comprehensive account of how Britain’s most elusive mammal was brought back from the edge of extinction, as well as some of the issues that has raised. Profits donated to WaterAid.

Trees – in all their glory – Richard Roslyn (head gardener, Blewbury Manor): 15 September 2016

Richard illustrated his talk with his beautiful photos, showing the vital and integral part trees play in our landscape. Profits to the Village Hall Refurbishment Fund.


Family Fun Day: 11 June 2016

We had four separate contributions at this village-wide event to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. The Blewbury Garden Market had a very successful day selling a huge number of plants, fresh garden produce, home-made bread and cakes. There was an exhibition to interest people in our new community orchard project (left and centre photos below). Especially for children there was a chance to see and learn about invertebrates from the Mill Brook (right photo below). Finally, there were some general posters about Sustainable Blewbury. Some photos are shown below.

Willow Willow Willow

The Story of Our Landscape – Rose Somerset (North Wessex Downs AONB): 26 May 2016

Juniper Valley

Blewbury is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, but just what makes our landscape special and worth protecting?

A packed Manor Barn enjoyed Rose Somerset’s lively evening of history, geology, ecology and information about the AONB. She explained how how our landscape formed, how humans have influenced its evolution and why its chalk hills are a special place for wildlife. With increasing pressure to develop the Oxfordshire countryside, she told us why our historic landscape is relevant today – and how we can help protect it for future generations to enjoy. Profits to the Village Hall Refurbishment Fund.

Table-Top Sale: 14 May 2016

The sale was a different way to recycle by helping people dispose of all those items hoarded in the attic/garage/garden shed for years! Tables were be hired out inexpensively and profits from booking fees and refreshments went to the Village Hall refurbishment fund. This was also used as the 2016 opening day of the Blewbury Garden Market, which did very well.

Willow workshop: 9 April 2016

Lawrence Graham’s workshop to make willow garden structures was fully booked, and participants had a very enjoyable time designing and building their creations.

Willow Willow Willow Willow

Wagon book launch: 4 and 5 December 2015

This beautiful and interesting book, put together by Peter Cockrell under the auspices of Sustainable Blewbury, is on sale at Savages and the Post Office for £10. It covers the life and times of the Blewbury Wagon, from its creation in 1895 to its new life on display in Blewbury. It has text, photos, paintings, drawing and poetry from the early 20th century as well as covering the recent restoration of the wagon. Profits from book sales will be used to maintain and insure the wagon in the future.

A Tale of Two Cities: Sustainable Building in Oxford and London – Anna Woodeson: 24 November 2015

Anna Woodeson, Associate Director and Head of Sustainability at Wilkinson Eyre Architects, made a welcome return to Blewbury to give another very interesting talk. She looked at how design tackles sustainability in four very different projects in two cities: in Oxford, the refurbishment of the Weston (new Bodleian) Library and the new Maggie’s Centre at the Churchill Hospital, and in London, a very deep retrofit of a house and the varied landscapes of the Kings’ Cross development. a listed building. After the talk we served wine, cheese and home baked bread.

New Bodleian Anna Woodeson Maggies Centre

Apple juicing

Apple events 2015

There was a very big harvest that ran later than usual due to warm weather. We had apple juice pressings on six Sundays, at the Manor, Orchard Dene, the Red Lion (Apple Day) and the School. In addition, people hiring our equipment to make juice at home really took off.

Explore your Churchyard: 19 September 2015

This was a free joint event run by St. Michaels and Sustainable Blewbury. Children (and their parents) were invited to explore the natural environment around St. Michaels. What sort of animals and plants would they find? Bug viewer kits and expert help was on hand to assist with identification, and warm drinks and lunch were provided.

Living Churchyard event

Mike Edmunds memorial exhibition: 21 June 2015 (Open Gardens Day)

We had an exhibition in memory of Mike, and to celebrate the rebuilding of what is to be officially known as the Edmunds Footbridge over the Mill Brook in Watery Lane. The exhibition showed BVS-Environment Group and Sustainable Blewbury projects inspired by Mike’s ideas and leadership during the 22 years since he and a few others set up the BVS-EG. The posters we showed can be viewed and downloaded as a pdf file here.

Quiz evening: 14 March 2015

A very enjoyable and successful evening, with questions to suit everyone. The event was aimed to raise money for the Village Hall Refurbishment Fund, and there was an overall profit of £1014.

Apple events 2014

Apples and juice

We had apple juice pressings on eight Saturdays, at the Manor, Orchard Dene and the School. On 11 October we had an Apple Day celebration at the Red Lion. This included the Blewbury Garden Market, apple juice pressing and a VPA plant and cake stall, as well as colourful artwork by the Playgroup children and Q Gardens providing apple-flavoured ice-cream.

Permaculture Open Day: 7 September 2014

A good number of people, including several families with children, came to see our orchard garden, based largely on permaculture principles. We have planted a wide variety of fruit trees, soft-fruit bushes and perennial ground cover, much of it edible, and wanted to show what we are doing and how it is progressing. The children had a lot of fun in the long grass and willow shelter, in addtion to seeing all the plants.

Open Day Open Day Open Day

Village Produce Association show: 12 July 2014

We displayed information about two of our projects: to create a permaculture orchard garden and our new bee group. Both provoked much interest.

Blewbury Mini-Festival Event – Community Energy schemes: the why, what, who, how and when: 19 June

A talk by Dr. Chris Jardine. Chris has been pioneering in the field of community energy schemes for the past decade and built the first ever community share offer-funded solar scheme in the UK way back in 2008. Chris shared his experience, explaining the need for community energy schemes (e.g. Westmill wind and solar coop, left and centre photos below), and the practicalities of running them, including the soon-to-be-built solar roofs at Blewbury Primary School (drawing at right, below). There were also short talks about the Village Hall refurbishment and our plans for a village EcoCentre based on the refurbished Village Hall in collaboration with the School. There was a lot of lively discussion afterwards over local cheese, local wine and home-made bread from Blewbury Bakers.

Westmill Westmill eventsSchool sketch

Green May Fair: 10 May 2014

A joint event with Blewbury School and BVS. Refreshments: home-made soup lunch, a barbeque, teas and a bar. Local produce from Blewbury Garden Market. Fun activities for the children. Live music from Blewbury Brass Band and Didcot Junction folk group. Performances from Blewbury School. How to reduce your bills and your carbon footprint, eco-renovate your home, encourage bees into your garden and grow your own vegetables. On show: the Blewbury Wagon and the Green Bus.

The complete Green May Fair programme, including contact details for all contributors to the event, is here (pdf).

Photos show the restored Blewbury Wagon with a ‘bee’, an electricity-generating bicycle, childrens’ wood craft, discussion of Blewbury Neighbourhood Plan, and two images of recycled fashion show.

Green May Fair image Green May Fair image Green May Fair image
Green May Fair image Green May Fair image Green May Fair image
Thin Ice image

Film evening – ‘Thin Ice’: 23 April 2014

Climate science has been under attack, so Oxford geologist Simon Lamb visited and flimed climate scientists at work around the world to find out what’s really going on. The result is a unique look at the science behind global warming. The film was followed by a discussion led by Blewbury scientists Dr. Emily Black and Prof. Paul Whitehead, and a glass of local wine.

A Sustainable Future – Global to Local: 26 March 2014

permaculture project

A shared supper, followed by a short AGM and informal talks on community activities:

Slides from the three talks are available here (pdf).

Cheese evening – Mike Smales: 19 February 2014

Cheese made from our own cows’ milk, a talk and tasting by Mike Smales, who makes Lyburn Farmhouse cheeses (including the Old Winchester that was very much liked at the Blewbury Festival) on the edge of the New Forest. Mike also talked about growing vegetables for supermarkets and organic box firms. There were samples of the delicious cheeses he makes, as well as home-made bread from Blewbury Bakers and local wine.

Lyburn cheese  Lyburn cheese  Lyburn cheese
Ashden logo

TTog–Blewbury 1st anniversary event: 8 November 2013

‘Communities’ Achievements in Sustainable Energy – what communities can do better than other organisations’, a talk by Dr. Anne Wheldon, Knowledge and Research Adviser to Ashden.

Ashden champions and promotes practical, local energy solutions that cut carbon, protect the environment, reduce poverty and improve people’s lives both in the UK and abroad. Anne has been a technical assessor and judge of the annual Ashden Awards for more than 10 years. Her talk focused on what communities might be able to do successfully, with illustrations from Ashden finalists’ projects.

Apple juicing 2013

The 2013 apple crop was huge. We held six Saturday public sessions to make some of the best apple juice we’ve ever tasted:

In addition, the equipment was also available for hire and a number of people with very large quantities of apples took advantage of this. The photos show shredding the apples, pressing the juice, and selling apple cakes at the primary school.

apple juicing apple juicing apple cakes

SB events at the Blewbury Festival 2013

BGM at Tickers Folly
Anita's Garden exhibition  Anita's Garden exhibition  Anita's Garden exhibition

Woodlands and woodfuel – Riki Therivel: 12 April 2013

Following a short AGM, Riki Therivel, Manager of the Oxfordshire Woodfuel Programme, gave us a lively, interactive talk, with demonstrations, about managing trees and woodlands, wood as a fuel, wood storage and drying, what questions to ask of firewood suppliers, and different kinds of stoves and boilers.

Riki on woodfuel  Riki on woodfuel

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Reduce/Reuse/Recycle: 17 March 2013

This was our fourth recycling event. Very poor weather limited the attendance.

Open Meeting and shared supper: 15 March 2013

CAG logo

‘We are not alone’:
Sustainable Blewbury is a member of the Oxfordshire CAG (Community Action Group) and Simon Kenton, Coordinator of Oxfordshire CAG, led the evening. We started with informal discussion over a shared meal. Simon told us about some of the activities of the 50+ Oxfordshire CAGs, then we had brief summaries of what Sustainable Blewbury is doing and short talks about Sustainable Wantage and Sustainable Wallingford. We ended with a discussion.

Film show – ‘The Economics of Happiness’: 25 January 2013

Economics of Happiness images

A documentary film about economic localisation, a powerful strategy that can help heal our fractured world – our ecosystems, our societies, and ourselves. Winner of numerous awards at international film festivals. An interesting discussion of the film was led by Jo Hamilton of the Oxford University Environmental Change Institute.

Old homes to eco-homes – Marianne Suhr and Anna Woodeson: 21 November 2012

An evening of two talks on energy efficiency – showing the similarities and differences in saving energy in old houses compared to buildings designed very recently.

Proceeds from ticket sales were donated to Blewbury Pre-School’s window restoration fund.

Marianne Suhr's house  roofs and windows  Gardens by the Bay
SwapShop logo

Free reuse and recycle event: 18 November 2012

Following two big successes, this was our third free reuse/recycle event. Although fewer goods were brought, there were still quite a lot and the majority of them found new homes.

Apple juicing days 2012

We used our new equipment for making fresh apple juice at Blewbury Manor on 6 October and 3 November, and in the Red Lion garden on 20 October. In addition to many people bringing us surplus apples from their own trees, we juiced large quantities of apples from apple trees at the Manor and the Red Lion.

The two photos on the left show our apple shredder, and the two on the right show our apple press. We also have a pasteuriser, which allows the juice to be kept for up to a year. The fresh juice is much tastier than bland commercial juice, and different varieties of apples give quite varied styles.

Juicing at Manor 2012 Juicing at Red Lion 2012 Juicing at Red Lion 2012 Juicing at Red Manor 2012

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Parity Projects – Richard Griffiths: 30 October 2012

Parity Projects logo

Richard Griffiths of multiple award-winning Parity Projects gave the talk that had been planned for the Transition Together launch event. They produce individually tailored low-energy retrofit plans for houses, rather than merely producing one plan for an entire road or estate. What they do differently is to consider the needs and priorities of the people living in the house, and they can deal with all sorts of unusual features. They have a special service for solid walled houses. Richard went on to describe the government’s Green Deal, which provoked a lively discussion. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes can help us reduce energy bills, tackle climate change and makes them more comfortable and desirable places to live. But without help, achieving that aim cost-effectively can be difficult and confusing.

Richard Griffiths  Richard Griffiths giving advice
TTog logo

Transition Together launch event: 24 September 2012

With two pilot groups doing well, we had an event to launch the exciting main project. Our guest speaker from award-winning Parity Projects had to cancel at the last moment and gave the talk separately (see above), but there was a talk on the project itself followed by informal discussions and refreshments around posters with more information about Transition Together and Sustainable Blewbury.

Email ttog@sustainable-blewbury.org.uk for more information.

TTog launch  TTog launch
SwapShop logo

Free reuse and recycle event, 9 September 2012

Following the success of our first free event of this type we had a repeat – it was even better than last time! This time it was held on Tickers Folly field in conjunction with a free concert by the Blewbury Brass Band in the new bandstand. The combination brought out more people, including some from surrounding villages and even St. Albans and Canterbury. About three-quarters of the goods were taken, a total of 420 kg, and items left were donated to Helen and Douglas House to sell in their charity shop.

Freecycle event with band  Freecycle event with band

Free reuse and recycle event, 1 July 2012

A chance to unload unwanted household possessions and/or pick up something – for free. This was our first event of this type. People cleared out reusable items that were no longer needed, and a large turnout took away 331 kg of items that would otherwise have gone into landfill. About a third of the items were not taken but went to the StyleAcre charity shop.

Freecycle event  Freecycle event  Freecycle event  Freecycle event

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Dan Betterton

CULTIVATE evening and the first SB Annual General Meeting, 27 April 2012

Cultivate is an exciting new, not-for-profit venture which will bring fresh, local, organically grown food direct from farmers to the towns and villages of Oxfordshire. Dan Betterton, one of the founders of CULTIVATE, told us about it. Although based in Oxford, the market garden they are developing is leased from the Earth Trust, near the Wittenham Clumps and Little Wittenham – much closer to Blewbury.

The talk was followed by the first AGM of Sustainable Blewbury, to approve our new constitution. SB has grown and has quite a few active projects. To help in our administration and in seeking grants, Sustainable Blewbury’s Core Group decided that the time has come to become a society independent of the BVS while still keeping close links with them and with the Parish Council.

John Letts

Bread evening, 23 March 2012

John Letts, founder of the Oxford Bread Group, is an archaeo-botanist and farmer who has successfully grown old wheat varieties from thatch straw, marketing artisanal bread and other products. He told us about many interesting and useful things that we can learn from older methods of agriculture uncovered by this research.

Growers’ workshop, 7 December 2011

We joined forces with allotment growers and others for an ad hoc discussion – a post-mortem on the past growing season and a look forward to next, what seeds to sow and things to grow, etc.

Produce stall producers and helpers get-together, 25 November 2011

An end-of-season party for everybody associated with the produce stall, and also to mark the end of Sarah’s very successful time as convenor of the Food and Farming group – initiating the Produce Stall and Permaculture Project.

Angela and Sarah   Sarah

Apple juicing days, 28–29 October 2011

We borrowed a fruit press and associated equipment to assess apple juicing logistics, in order to decide whether to purchase equipment for the village for next season, and familiarise ourselves with its operation and management. After a day spent learning the best way to use the equipment, we held two public sessions where people could bring their own apples:

Apple crushing  Apple juice pressing  Apple juice pressing
Apple crushing  Apple juice pressing  Apple juice collection

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Produce stall 2011

Red Lion produce stall

The stall (photo at right) had a second successful season. It ran every Saturday from early May to mid-October, thanks to our local producers and team of helpers. See our food page for more information about how the stall works.

Village clubs open day, 18 September 2011

For this event, at the new Clubhouse on the Recreation Ground, we had a small exhibition and people on hand to give advice and attract new members.

Blewbury Festival, June 2011

We were involved in the following events:

Energy Initiative display   Natural Environment display
Downland project display   Creatures of the Millbrook demonstration

Architectural heritage seminar: Blewbury's Hidden Gems, 4–5 April 2011

Sustainable Blewbury has an initiative to record architectural detail of buildings in the village, in photographs, sketches and drawings. This has recently started with a survey of about 100 houses (not all of them listed buildings) to note external items of special interest. To throw further light on our findings, we invited Charles Brooking back to Blewbury for a talk on the importance of windows and other detail in historic buildings and what you can learn from them. At a time when historic buildings are being swept away in large numbers, Charles' crusade is to make people aware of the significance of detail.

Film evening, 25 March 2011

‘Beyond the Brink’ is a young Oxfordshire filmmaker’s take on the climate change debate. 18-year-old Ross Harrison spent a year chasing up experts, studying the news, and filming to create a short documentary that answers two ever-pressing questions: are we really causing climate change, and who cares? The result is a 40-minute film about the knowns and the unknowns of the science, about the risks, and about being hopeful for the future too. Interviews with Sir David Attenborough, among others, offer fresh perspectives on a subject that saturates the media, divides the public, and yet is still meaningless to many.

Open meeting and shared lunch, 19 February 2011

The aim was to present our projects and activities:

In between the two we had a delicious and varied cold lunch, with the emphasis on local ingredients.

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Apple Day, 16 October 2010

Apple Day is an annual celebration of apple, orchards and local distinctiveness, initiated by Common Ground in 1990. It has since been celebrated each year by people organising hundreds of local events. We held our first Blewbury-wide celebration of Apple Day on 16 October – it was well-attended and successful. We have put together a gallery of Apple Day photographs showing many of the activities, and the results of our survey of orchards in Blewbury is summarised on a separate page.

An attractive 28-page booklet, ‘Orchards in and around Blewbury’, was prepared for Apple Day and contains a wealth of information. It is available from us for £3.50.

Apple Day poster

Sustainable Blewbury stall at Brass Band Day, 11 July 2010

The Blewbury and District Brass Band celebrated its 100th anniversary with an open-air party in the Playclose. Sustainable Blewbury had a stand – we talked to a lot of people about the project's aims and activities, as well as selling some local produce.

Green Energy Initiative – group purchase of solar photovoltaic panels

The Blewbury Energy Initiative coordinated a group order from Blewbury and Upton to obtain a discount on solar photovoltaic panels. Under the new feed-in tariff these have become an good investment, as well as contributing to a low-carbon future. Planning regulations have been eased, and a discount was offered if enough orders were placed. A well-attended information meeting about solar panels and the possible arrangements was held on 5 July, and this led to about a dozen new systems being installed.

A series of 3 films

Food and farming in and around Blewbury – a discussion evening, 13 November 2009

The discussion was chaired by agronomist Andrew Chell, with a showing of the recent BBC2 film "A Farm for the Future". The aim was to learn about the huge changes and challenges in today's farming, including higher oil prices and climate change.

Sustainable Blewbury – exhibition and demonstrations, 27 June 2009

In recent years the Blewbury Village Society Environment Group has worked closely with other organisations on issues concerning the environment. For this Blewbury Festival event, in the newly constructed barn at The Manor, the Environment Group organised exhibitions, demonstrations of, and detailed information about:

The exhibition also highlighted the group's activities past and present, with a display of records and photographs of our own natural environment, and presentations on energy saving and microgeneration.

News from a warming world – Mark Lynas, 22 June 2009

This talk discussed what Blewbury and its global neighbours might look like in a warmer world, and how we all need to adapt our lifestyles. What can we do now to prevent the worst effects of climage change?

Mark Lynas, who lives in Oxfordshire, is a journalist, author and environmental activist. His book ‘Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet’ won the prestigious Royal Society Prize for Science Books in 2008.

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