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Our goats have arrived, the BBC has finished filming us, we have been trading our jam, eggs and honey for other people's produce, we have had mixed results in competitions at local shows and our honey crop is looking to be a bumper one. Welcome to Self-Sufficient in Suburbia for September 2013.
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The goats have arrived
We knew when we set out to be self-sufficient that we would have to get goats to ensure we have a supply of milk, cheese, yoghurt and so on. So earlier in September we found two nanny goats, a mother and daughter, for sale in the Scottish borders. We took the land rover north and picked up the two goats and took them to our main allotment in Sunniside. There we have a temporary paddock for them whilst the much larger enclosure is made ready.

You can see the arrival of the goats in this video.

We do not have names for them yet and so suggestions are welcome! They have both settled in well and are now used to me feeding and handling them. The mother will soon be made ready for mating. And next year we hope to go into milk production.
We are on BBC1
For the past 6 months I have been followed by the BBC as I aim to become self-sufficient and produce all my own food. We reached our target of becoming self-sufficient on 1st August. The last filming for the programme was earlier this month at the Whinnies in Sunniside, where my allotment is. I hosted a BBQ, using some of the food we have produced recently. Everything was locally produced until Jimmy, a fruit wholesaler and retailer, arrived with boxes of tropical fruit! Jimmy is also featured on the programme.

The programme is called "Inside Out" and will be broadcast on BBC1 (North East England) at 7.30pm on Monday 30th September. It is a regional programme but will be available on BBC iPlayer after the broadcast.

Recent trade
It's been a great month for trade for us. The Hurrocks Allotment Association in Swalwell, Gateshead arrived at my house with a car full of the exhibits from their allotment show. It included 4 gigantic pumpkins, marrows, potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips and so on. I paid for this delivery with jam, eggs and honey.

Last week I went to Highfield, Rowlands Gill, a few km from my house, to collect a sack of broad beans and potatoes from the Gibside Allotment Association. This was what was left from their stall at the Gibside Farmers' Market yesterday. Again, I paid for it with jam, eggs and honey.

Swapping locally produced food is part of the local trading network I want to create. One of the biggest learning points for me since setting off on our journey to become self-sufficient is that it is nearly impossile to produce everything ourselves but there are some things we are good at producing and end up with far more than we need ourselves. There are very few local beekeepers and not too many people producing jam and preserves. So we use our jam and honey as currency is an informal trading system. The more people who become involved will mean more local produce will be produced. Instead of relying on supermarkets to provide all our food, we rely instead on the local community of food producers. It means better quality food, healthier lifestyles, less waste, less resource depletion, less pollution and it's cheaper than buying the food from commercial outlets.

Some of the produce will be used at our next Allotment Cafe at Marley Hill, Gateshead, on Sunday 27th October. It will have a halloween theme to it. Watch out for pumpkin soup and pumpkin pie.

Mixed results at local shows

We have had mixed results at local shows this month. Last year we went to the Bowes Show in Co Durham and won two first and one second prizes in the jam and egg competitions. Alas, this time round we were lacking the beginner's luck of last year and had to make do with a second, a third and a fourth, despite entering more competitions at the show. See our video of the show here.

Meanwhile, we entered one of our maran copper black hens in the Hurrocks Allotment Show last week and got 2nd place in the best hen competition.

I am a trustee of Marley Hill Community Centre, where we run the Allotment Cafe, and next year I have plans to hold a garden and allotment show there. It means I won't be able to enter the competitions myself but the local allotment shows are a great way to get people involved in gardening and showing off their produce.


The honey crop
It is definitely looking like we will have a good honey crop this year (unlike last year). We are due to harvest the honey on another two hives over the next few days and there is a possibility that three of the hives from which we took honey in the summer can be cropped again. The warm, dry start to autumn, coupled with the late flowering of some plants (caused by the late end to the winter) has helped the bees to get out to forage. The hives have been remarkably busy recently as a result.

I'm on the outlook for good honey recipes so if you have any, please send them to me. Meanwhile, jars of honey have been traded for other people's produce. On the self-sufficiency financial markets, honey has quite a high exchange value!
A few of our recent videos
Self-Sufficient in Suburbia August edition
How to stuff a marrow
Using potatoes as an alternative to bread
How to make rhubarb chutney
How to roast venison
I'll be back in October with news about the early autumn harvest and how we are getting on with our goats. In the meantime, feel free to forward this email newsletter to others who may find it of use.

Thanks
Jonathan Wallace
Copyright © 2013 Self-Sufficient in Suburbia, All rights reserved.


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