Apple Day at Wandlebury

2G3S Apple Day, Wandlebury, 1 – 4 pm Saturday 5 October 2019

We held a successful Apple Day with Cambridge Past, Present and Future (CPPF) and Orchards East at Wandlebury on Saturday 5 October. Activities included:

  • Guided walks around the Wandlebury Orchard
  • Fruit and nut identification

  • Talk on the care of fruit trees
  • Apple juicing
  • Talk on cooking with apples – samples and recipes
  • Talk on cider making
  • Archery for adults (and soft archery for children)

  • The Cambridgeshire Beekeepers’ Association [CBKA] with information about all pollinators and a glass observation beehive
  • Activities for children, including crafts and games, and story reading by well-known children’s author ISABEL THOMAS
  • information about local environmental and horticultural groups

The weather was kind to us on the day; unfortunately the season hadn’t been a good one for apples and the juicers got off to a rather slow start!  But all in all a very enjoyable afternoon.

2G3S Walk round Dernford Reservoir, September 2019

In warm sunshine a dozen residents completed the walk around Dernford Reservoir,  just south of Stapleford, in late September.  The reservoir area was opened for public access last year following amelioration of the former gravel quarry.

The group were introduced to several late flowering plants including bright yellow Toadflax and purple Upright Vetch. A large dragonfly was seen skimming over the water. There was a group of more than 50 gulls on the water, including Black-backed gulls.  We watched a Grebe taking a series of dives to catch small fish and a Cormorant flew low over the reservoir.  One of the group spotted a Common Sandpiper on the shore and we shared binoculars to see it bobbing about on the shoreline. A group of dogs splashing in the water drove the wary birds to the other side of the reservoir, the owners ignoring the fencing and deep water warning signs.

The reservoir is becoming a more popular walking venue and provides a useful local wildlife asset. It will be interesting to observe how it develops over the next few years.  Note the reservoir is in Sawston Parish, one of the villages that the 2G3S group represents (Shelfords, Stapleford and Sawston).

John O’Boyle

Climate crisis

Some of us went to The Time is Now climate crisis lobby of Parliament on 26 June 2019.  Heidi Allen, our MP, asked for ideas for first steps in tackling the crisis.  After consultation among our members 2G3S produced a report which you can read here: Climate crisis measures for Heidi Allen.

We sent this to her on 1 August.

On 28 August Linda Whitebread and Peter Fane met Heidi at her drop-in surgery at Shelford Deli to discuss how she was getting on.  She thanked us for the report and told us that a cross-party group of MPs are putting together a list of urgent climate action proposals that they will urge the government to include in the Queen’s Speech.

Linda and Peter with Heidi Allen at Shelford Deli 28 August 2019

Don’t forget to respond to the Sawston Greenway consultation

We are hoping that the Greater Cambridge Partnership will go ahead with the construction of a ‘Greenway’ (a route for cyclists, walkers and equestrians) from Cambridge through Stapleford to Sawston.  They are gauging public support for the project by means of a survey; responses have to be in by end of Monday, 5 August.  Local residents should have received a hard copy through their door, but you can also complete the survey online here:

https://consultcambs.uk .engagementhq.com/greenways-melbourn-sawston?tool=survey_tool#tool_tab

and it only takes a few minutes to complete the form.

Details of the proposals are linked from https://consultcambs.uk.engagementhq.com/greenways-melbourn-sawston

We are encouraging people to strongly support option 5b over 5a.  This is an extract from our Summer 2019 newsletter:

Jim Chisholm writes:

Stapleford: most crucially, a new route ‘B’ is proposed that avoids the difficult section through Mingle Lane and Church St.  A roughly similar route was proposed in 2000, but this failed due to landowner objections.  At that time, Sustrans did obtain a licence, which still holds, for a 500m strip of land adjacent to the rail line S from Shelford station, under London Road and as far as Wedd’s land off Granta Terrace.  The newly proposed Route B would run close to the railway as far as the new Dernford reservoir, before using a path, with public access already agreed, around the reservoir perimeter to rejoin the existing route beyond Dernford Lane. Please strongly support route B from Shelford station.

Without such support negotiations with landowners for access to a 450m strip needed between the agreed Sustrans bit and the reservoir will be difficult.

If a further short link were to be created from the proposed path to the housing development on the old garage site, this would give a route from these dwellings to the London-bound platform at Shelford station, as well as an almost traffic free path to Sawston Village College.

A route alongside the Sawston by-pass to the ‘Spicers’ crossing is also proposed.  For this to be a 24/7 commuter route and to be family friendly it will need to be behind a hedge, as routes directly adjacent to busy roads are unsafe in the dark due to vehicle headlights, and difficult for families because of the proximity and noise of heavy traffic.  Please support this path, but with a hedge.

Thank you!

From Mince Pies to Birds of Paradise: a Conversation about Palm Oil

This was the first of our Conversation Evenings, held at The Rose, Stapleford, on 8 January.  There was a good turn-out on a winter’s evening to hear Janet O’Boyle introduce the subject before opening up a more general conversation.

Summary:

Production and uses

The main producers are Indonesia and Malaysia. Oil palm is a very productive, cheap and land efficient crop, grown on large plantations and also by smallholders. The main uses in the UK are in processed food, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Problems

  • Global warming: deforestation, burning, and peat degradation contribute more greenhouse gas emissions than the world’s entire transport sector and makes Indonesia the 3rd largest carbon emitter in the world.
  • Air pollution: burning causes air pollution, such as the 2015 smog disaster across Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore. Most big companies have stopped burning now but smallholders still do.
  • Human rights abuses: including forceful removal of indigenous forest people; child labour; and exploitative working conditions.
  • Loss of biodiversity: destruction of tropical rainforest to make way for palm oil plantations.
  • Loss of other benefits provided by the forest: use for food, as a water reservoir, and as protection against landslides and floods.

Food

Food ingredients have to be labelled, now including palm oil, so it’s easier to know what you’re getting. Sometimes the label says “sustainable palm oil”. Can we assume it isn’t if it doesn’t?

Cosmetics/ingredients

Chemistry degree required!

“Palmate” on eg soap means derived from palm oil, “cocoate” from coconut oil etc.

Many chemical ingredients can be derived from palm oil and there are websites offering long lists of ingredients that indicate palm oil. But these could also be derived from coconut or other oils or petrochemicals, eg “palmitate” is a fatty acid found in coconut, olive and other oils as well as palm oil.

“Palm-oil free” may just mean that palm oil is not used as a whole ingredient.

Alternatives

Coconut oil requires 7 x as much land for the same yield as palm oil. Soya oil production is already contributing to habitat destruction in Brazil and Argentina. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) argues that these alternatives would contribute to even more biodiversity losses than palm oil.

Butter, containing no palm oil, has twice the global warming impact of margarine, which generally does contain palm oil.

Sustainable Palm Oil

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is made up of palm oil producers and buyers and environmental organisations like WWF. It produced a set of environmental and social criteria that must be complied with to label oil as Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. From November 2018 these include no deforestation, no burning, and some protection for human rights.

Currently 25% of palm oil is certified as sustainable. The market for it is limited, so some is sold as non-sustainable.

Conclusion?

Should we be demanding more genuinely sustainable palm oil to encourage change rather than boycotting it all together? If we avoid all palm oil we reduce the drive for better sustainability. Iceland’s attempt to avoid palm oil in its own brand products proved unachievable. But Greenpeace’s campaign has led one of the biggest palm oil traders to monitor its suppliers and suspend any caught clearing rainforest.