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To weed or not to weed, that is the question!

Category: General

Date: 16.02.2017

Time: 09:00

Is there really any such thing as a weed? Aren’t they just plants we don’t want? We recently covered the thorny topic of weeds as part of the gardening course I am doing, and our first task was to define exactly what a weed is. 

As would be expected, the general interpretation of weeds was quite negative, with people saying things such as, “they are uncontrollable” and “they grow in places you don’t want them”. But has our view of these plants been tainted by our cultural concepts? Would we value weeds more if they were harder to grow, for example?

Weeds indicate fertile land. Nettles, for example, are dynamic accumulators, which mean they draw up nutrients from the soil and store them in their leaves. These plants are perfect for cutting and using as fertiliser for other plants. Why on earth would we want to get rid of something that has such a positive effect on our plants and soil? 

If you do decide you need a more orderly garden, then there is a ‘Hierarchy of Intervention’ to follow when you discover plants you didn’t sow in your garden:

1. Observe and do nothing;
2. Biological interventions – using other plants and animals to help get rid of your weeds;
3. Mechanical interventions – pulling them out;
4. Chemical interventions – which of course we wouldn’t recommend using!

At the start of the session, I had been keen to learn how to get rid of the dandelions on my lawn, but by the end was asking for recipes for nettle tea and dandelion salad.  For the time being, my dandelions and my “unplanned plants” can stay were they are!

“Weeds are plants whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

Kari-ann Whitbread is the Fundraising Manager at PECT.



Warm Homes South Holland

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 10.02.2017

Time: 16:05

PECT has recently started delivering another Fuel Poverty project, expanding on our work in Peterborough and delivering it to residents across South Holland in Lincolnshire through a door-to-door advice service.

As part of my role I have been helping to deliver this work. Supported by our main energy assessor, Sam Bosson, I have been experiencing first-hand the issues faced by people on a day-to-day basis when it comes to keeping their homes warm.

With high levels of fuel poverty in our target areas and many older ‘hard to heat’ properties, I am getting a chance to see the real need for support with energy efficiency and staying warm at home. Having experienced rain and freezing temperatures during our first few sessions going door-to-door I can really understand why it is so important that people are keeping their homes warm!

These first few trips out have shown me that many people already have a good idea of how to keep their bills down through behaviours and through getting better energy deals. However, with virtually every household I have visited there have been areas where they could be making improvements, whether this is making behavioural changes or by altering their tariff to a lower priced one.

Although there are huge variances in the support people need – from those who just want a few pointers and general information, through to those who need help understanding their bills and making changes to their tariffs – we are able to help everyone with our personalised service in a way that we would not be able to with a more generic approach.

The initial project funding came from The Fenland Green Power Co-operative, a community group who owns two wind turbines at Deeping St Nicholas. This is the first time we have received funding generated from community-owned renewable energy, and it is great to think that as more community-owned energy projects mature they will be helping to provide funding for local services. This is a really sustainable model that can help communities across the country to support themselves more sustainably whilst also helping the environment.

This funding, and the match funding we received, came from direct approaches to PECT from people who had read about our previous energy visits work around Peterborough. Without our previous work, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to help households in South Holland, and we wouldn’t have been able to develop new relationships with funders. Whilst I am spending a lot of time out in the cold walking from door-to-door, it’s a very small price to pay for all the good impacts we are achieving!

Andrew Ellis is the Fundraising and Project Officer for PECT.



Going green at home

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 09.02.2017

Time: 09:13

One of my previous blogs was about everything that PECT does to make its office as sustainable as possible. I am now in the middle of buying my very first house and I’m starting to think about what environmental initiatives I can introduce at home as well.

The first thing that comes to mind is the prospect of having my very own garden! A garden to plant and grow food in; I’m so excited! Not only am I looking to grow produce, I also want to attract wildlife to the garden, especially bees.

Bee numbers have fallen drastically over the past few years. It’s important to look after our bees for a number of reasons, including the fact that bees are vital to our food chain. Without bees, one-third of the food we eat would not be available!

One way to attract more bees to your garden is to introduce nectar and pollen rich plants, such as honeysuckle, lavender and foxgloves. You can also put bee hotels in your garden, which provide nesting places for bees and offer protection from the weather.

In terms of food, I’m only going to grow it on a seasonal basis. As Spring-time draws near, I’ll be looking to grow carrots, spring onions and peas. Then, later in the year I’ll be growing blackberries, cabbage and squash.

Finally, I’ll be getting a water butt in my garden to water all the new flowers and fruit and veg, using rainwater rather than the water from my kitchen sink.

I can’t wait for my new garden and really look forward to getting stuck in - wish me luck!

Selina Wilson is the Office Manager at PECT.



For the love of tea

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 02.02.2017

Time: 09:45

There’s something about nature that we all love. Whether that’s watching the waves crash against the seashore, seeing a swan gliding through water, experiencing the breath-taking views from the top of Mount Everest or simply going on a woodland walk. Nature has a place in the hearts of us all.

But sadly, at the current rate of global warming, our beloved nature is at risk. The question stands: does the impact of global warming concern you? Or rather, does it concern you that global warming impacts people, places and life on earth?

The extent of climate change’s impact isn’t even just the ice caps melting, or causing increased acidity to the oceans, it has the potential to infiltrate into every single element of life that you and I enjoy, such as doing the gardening, eating chocolate and drinking tea!

Just take tea as an example. First thing in the morning we all enjoy waking up to that pot of freshly brewed tea. But what if tea begins to deplete in supply? Just consider the impact of rising temperatures on the production of your favourite tea. Global warming threatens the microclimate in the hills of Asia that produces so much of the tea that we love, and with it, this threatens the livelihoods of the millions of farmers whose lives depend on the production of our daily cup of tea. To read the full article, visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-26754121
I hope that others will see the importance of this issue and #ShowtheLove for nature, for the oceans, for farmers and for our cups of tea!

As a member of the Climate Coalition, PECT is looking to show its support for the ‘Show the Love’ campaign this February. The aim is to join forces to take action against climate change and show the love for the things that could be lost to the impact of climate change such as nature and wildlife.

We are looking for members of the community to join our Forest for Peterborough Tree Planting Day to show your love for the local environment. Join us on Saturday 11th February, drop-in between 10.30am-4.30pm, last arrivals at 2.30pm, at Werrington Open Space (parking and access via 51-58 Baron Court, PE4 7ZE.)
Make sure you register your attendance via simon.belham@pect.org.uk or via 07715372432.

Michaela Anthony is the Digital Marketing Apprentice at PECT.



Sundays: From Farm to Fork!

Category: Business

Date: 31.01.2017

Time: 16:29

Investors in the Environment (iiE) member Sundays opened its independent restaurant in Peterborough in 2004 and has continued to thrive, offering a high standard of locally-sourced produce, including traditional roast dinners and now its new ‘BBQ Nights’. David Beever from Sundays explains why sustainability matters to him: 

Why is it important to serve your own home-raised meats to your customers?

I believe that grass-fed, home-raised animals should be standard practice. More people are finally thinking about what they are putting on their plate and where it comes from. So naturally, we get a lot of customers that like buying our Sunday dinners because they know the effort and ethics that have gone into their ‘quality’ dinner!

What does ‘farm to fork’ mean for you?

Growing up on a farm, it didn't even occur to me to source vegetables, eggs and meat from anywhere else than directly from farms. We primarily use smallholders for our vegetables and eggs, and for meat some beef from our own herd and then the majority from Gary Simpsons butchers (2016 Butcher of the year). Any business can buy cheap cuts of meat from unknown sources, but we don’t want that here at Sundays! 90% of our ingredients are sourced from within a one-hour round trip from the restaurant, and we try and keep everything ethically sourced and local! We have even won awards for our green and sustainable practices too.

What awards are these? 

We have achieved the Investors in the Environment (iiE) top level Green award for the last four years. We even won a ‘Great Green Star’ with them too! iiE is an evidence-based accreditation scheme that’s a great endorsement of the practices we had in place anyway. Being green shouldn't necessarily be a 'thing', it really should be just the way we live our lives and conduct business. It should be normal to have as little waste as possible, it should be normal to use locally grown and sustainable food: simple principles that make sense economically too.

What inspired you to launch BBQ Nights?

We felt the opportunity to open at night was there and we wanted to give Peterborough something different. ‘BBQ Nights’ is unique to the city. We have an award-winning smoker from Cookshack in Oklahoma. It really is a magic box! I'd spent a month travelling in the states in 2009 and ate some fantastic BBQ food and had always thought that when properly done it was food that would work well in England! I wanted to combine the great taste with our ethics to create something really special.

Sundays Restaurant is offering iiE members a 2-4-1 voucher on all food (breakfast, roast dinners, meat rolls, and BBQ Nights meals. Simply let Sundays know you are an ‘iiE member’ in-store and show the link to this blog to claim your offer. Valid until 3 March 2017. 

To contact Sundays or to book a table, please call 01733 554334 or visit 3 Cumbergate, Peterborough PE1 1YR. For more on the original story from Moment magazine, click here.



Show the love for the environment

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 16.01.2017

Time: 09:47

I have a love for the environment and I am very passionate about looking to conserve it.

I am currently in sixth form studying my A-levels, looking to take a degree in Marine Conservation at University, and so by volunteering at PECT it allows me to work in an environment where people are doing their all to make a positive impact.

In wanting to work in conservation, it is important for me to get the message across to others about the negative impact that we are having. According to the Independent, 70% of Japan's biggest coral reef is dead due to the effects of global warming, said to have been caused by a mass coral bleaching last summer. This is mainly due to rising ocean temperatures - which is partially to do with us.

Climate change is one of the biggest issues that we are facing right now and its impact is happening a lot faster than what we wish to believe. Due to the increase in global temperature, the ice caps are melting, which in turn is creating a rise in sea level. The impact is even more widespread. When temperatures are too high the relationship between corals and their symbiotic microalgae becomes unstable – the algae is what makes corals bright and colourful and so when the relationship becomes unstable, the coral becomes ‘bleached’.

Pollution has a large effect on the ocean, for example; through untreated sewage, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial chemicals and plastics. Recently we have seen the implementation of the 5p plastic carrier bag charge and thus an increase in the use of reusable bags. This small change has in turn made a difference to the environment, seeing a dramatic drop in the volume of plastic bags entering our oceans. This isn’t to say the problem has stopped, or ever will just yet, but its a start and a way for us to go forward and develop further plans to hopefully result in no plastic bags entering our oceans.

Plastic has been in the ocean for many years and has reached a point where islands made up of plastic have developed. Unfortunately, many marine animals and mammals are susceptible to plastic entering their digestive systems, with carrier bags often being mistaken for jelly fish to certain marine life such as turtles. Further still, there is the potential of plastics entering our food chain if these marine animals continue to eat small plastics, potentially ending up in the food we eat.

Alongside the plastic are also dangerous fertilizers and pesticides which run into the oceans and water systems from agricultural fields – these can be damaging to the ocean as they then pollute it and the surrounding environments, working their way into the food chain again.

Ocean acidification is another continuing problem. As more carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the atmosphere, it has an effect on the local environment but also adverse effects on the oceans. Recently, ocean acidification has emerged as another potentially serious threat to coral reefs as seawater absorbs some of the excess CO2 from the atmosphere, and it leads to the oceans becoming more acidic. In the last 200 years, the ocean acidity has increased by 30%. The acidic conditions dissolve coral skeletons and so make it more difficult for corals to grow.

There are several other environmental issues, but for now we need to focus on this issue and take further steps to reduce it. So why not start now and do your bit to help out and #Showthelove for the environment?

Here are some of the top things you should do:

1. Adopt energy saving habits
2. Change the way you think about transportation
3. Make every drop of water count
4. Switch to ‘green power’
5. Recycle

Hollie Nightingale is a volunteer at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT).


#Global warming

Update from WestRaven Big Local

Category: General

Date: 11.01.2017

Time: 11:55

Well, what a Christmas present we received at WestRaven Big Local Community Café & Garden! The contractors agreed a date to commence the refit of the shop units, and sure enough they arrived early on the 3rd of January 2017 to start the renovation.

After moving the last of the items we had stored in the building, we handed over the keys. The plan is a twelve-week program, so we should get the keys back by the end of March 2017. We are planning an opening event for Easter Monday 17th April 2017.

Over the last few months, WestRaven Big Local has been out and about in the community, helping raise awareness for local organisations. Just some of the activities we have arranged have included:

• Hosted Britain’s Best Breakfast at Hartwell Court for residents in aid of Carers Trust.
• Produced cakes for Ravensthorpe Primary School and Cross Keys Homes in aid of Macmillan coffee morning.
• Food demonstrations at the PECT Green Festival.
• Teamed up with Metal and the Women’s Institute to raise awareness of food waste.
• Cooked some festive rolls for Ravensthorpe Primary School’s Christmas Fare.
• In partnership with Sue Ryder, hosted a Winter Fete in Stafford Hall.
• Held our First Community ‘Meet and Eat’ in Stafford Hall with Christmas singers.  

Look out for the Community ‘Meet and Eats’ – they’re a great way to get involved in what’s happening in Westwood and Ravensthorpe. It is an ideal opportunity to meet residents and share a meal, chatting with others because being sociable is good for the soul and general well-being!

Kevin Earl is the Big Local Community Café Manager. For more information about WestRaven Big Local please see the Facebook page.

Table of food waste collected from local supermarket


Kevin cooking breakfast for residents of Hartwell Court