R-Urban London


Accelerated Composter at Cody Docks

Wonderful to meet Simon who is one of the people behind the quietly transformative Gasworks Docks Partnership in West Ham. A charity set up to re-claim this disused dock in the industrial heartland at the river lea and bring it back into community use. Quietly tucked away in the industrial estate they are transforming this former industrial waste land into a little oasis of social enterprises.

Amongst a floating Geodesic dome, reed beds, boats on stills and mobile planters is a large accelerated composter which was inherited from Newham. Its not quite an anerobic digester which we assumed it might be but rather a hot chamber which churns out compost in only 12 days. Still quite impressive.

A Digester for the Wick

Tom and Fausto inspecting the digester

Fausto holding up the biogas lamp.

The fermented liquid is collected in a barrael and provides fertilizer for the garden

Throughout last year Fausto has been running this anareobic digester at the Urban bee lodge in Kennington Park. It has been dorment over the winter and we initally thought that it might be possible to bring it to the Wick as it seemed access to requierments in Kennington. The good news is that the Urban Bee Lodge has more volunteers to run and promote the digester in Kennington, which also means we can't bring it Hackney Wick. Inspired by what we saw in Kenningtons plans were hatched to build our own digester re-using existing components and making it fit local requierments.

The digester in Kennington was a demonstration model designed by Loo Watts. It was extremely useful to see how it works and what level of maintanance which is requiered.

Half a ton of wasted strawberries


Delighted that Tom Fletcher will be working with us. Tom is a chef and re-use expert. Among many other things he produces the Rejuce drinks made from left over fruit collected at New Spitafield Market a short distance away from Hackney Wick in Walthemstow. Tom is all things re-use and the last piece of the puzzle is a digester which can turn the remaining organic waste he produces into source a of energy.

Step forward Fausto who has been running a small digester made by LOOWATTS . Its only a small unit to demonstrate the benefits of producing gas (or electricity) with a digester currently without a user - it seems a perfect fit for Tom and his production line.

The space for the digester is identified and workshops are planned so watch this space.

You will not be marked

Tak who is working with us and Hassan asked me to introduce the project to his 20+ architecture students from the university of East London. I borrowed the Abbey Gardens cabin - Home of one of Charlie Seber's workshops and gave quick presentation hoping to draw them into a collaboration. "It will not be marked" were Taks words and it will be after they have completed their year - so I guess we only get those really committed and interested students to join in.

A hot cup of tea in your bag

I ran into Charlie on his way to town and he produced this little stove from his backpack along with some firewood. The mini stove is made from two old cans and is designed to boil water for a small pot of tea. The same principle to the chimeny effect which we expermineted with when charring the timber. Short intense heat.

Its good to always be prepared for a quick cup of tea along the way.

EIHK at the Abbey Gardens Spring Event

Join us next week Saturday at the Abbey Gardens Spring Event. Abbey Gardens is a great local community garden in Newham set up by local residents, designed by somewhere. It is also one of Charlies 'workshops' and comfrey plantations.

We will be outing our experiements alongside all the other activity so don't miss it.
Saturday the 20th of April
2-5Pm at Abbey Gardens
Bakers Row
E15 3NF

find out all the information here

Slowly but collectively

Our monolithic carbonised planting system is coming along slowly but collectively. It needs one more final push. The official unvailing will most likely take place on the 20th of April when we will take part at the Abbey Gardens spring festival. A wonderful garden in Newham designed by artist duo Nina Pope and Karen Guthrie from somewhere, who are also behind the floating cinema.

Abbey Gardens is also one of Charlies growing areas and if you join us on the day you will get to see his self buid green house and comfrey silo. We will post some updates closer to the event but in the meantime you can enjoy some images of the developing planter.

Shed M.O.T

Recently, I was delighted to meet Hassan, who was introduced to me as a 'recycling powerhouse'. Hassan and his son run H&H motors on Old Bethnal Green Road. He was (and still is) a plot holder at the old Manor Garden Allotments, which had to make way for the Olympic redevelopment. The Allotments are to be relocated back to a new plot in the Olympic park next year.

The allotment society ran a very strong campaign to save the allotments from demolition, though ultimately unsuccessful. You can see the history of the campaign at the fantastic Life Island (www.lifeisland.org) website. You might also have come across Hassan in the videos and interviews produced as part of the campaign, some of which are in the Curiosity Shop collection. Or you might have seen him in Sam Clark's MORO EAST cook book, which documented the last growing season and community life of the allotments before they were bulldozed.

I visited Hassan at his garage with Tak Hoshino - a japanese architect - who was heavily involved in the campaign and who helped to draw up an alternative master plan arguing for the retention of the allotments as part of the new park. Tak has a keen interest in recycling - not from a sustainability point of view, but as a frame of mind which makes do and is able to adapt.

The desire to work with the allotments and the 'shed culture' came from looking at Thomas Pausz's book 'Revisiting the Community Shed' - a survey of the many sheds on the old Manor Garden Allotments, many of which were self-built using found and recycled materials. The sheds were much more then just tool storage; they were private spaces which housed the social life of the allotments. The sheds provided on the new site are small and can not easily be inhabited in the same way. Additionally they are temporary and many people don't want to invest too much into them. Nevertheless some of them have been customised using the same resourceful techniques. Hassan has extended his and even added a covered porch from re-used materials using the skills at his disposal.

When the weather clears up a bit and the spring make itself felt, Tak and I will visit Hassan at his allotment and get to meet the famous barbecue made from a disused MOT machine, his birdhouse and - of course - his shed.

Tak is a keen shed builder himself and as I dropped him off at his house he showed me the shed he build for his kids made from old windows (pictured above). All across his estate the steel frame windows were replaced with plastic UPVC double glazed one. He rescued some of the old windows from the skip.

E20 Needs You

The E20 Fishing Club has taken over the old Lock Keepers Cottage. Mark and Pete who run the club need urgent help finishing off some planters before Wednesday (20th March 2013). If you have a few moments to spare go down to old ford lock (at the end of Dace Road next to the old Big Breakfast house) Mark and Pete will be down there Saturday and Sunday all day. They would really appreciate some extra muscle power. Several planters need to be filled with soil. The planters will eve ntually grow herbs. Its fairly urgent as it all needs to be ready for Wednesday - some funding deadline. Just drop down or email mark at: e20eft@hotmail.co.uk