This year our growing project is being followed by Len Grant, a photographer, writer and sketcher who wrote about the Breightmet UCAN in his award-winning blog, As Rare as Rubies. Over the summer he’s exchanged his camera for his paintbrush and many of his sketches from the growing project can be seen on the UCAN window in New Lane.
“It’s a great way of getting more people interested in growing and cooking their own food,” he says.
Here Len writes – and draws – about the hottest day of the year, so far.
We wait for ages for a sunny day and then complain it’s too hot when it arrives. But today for good reason: it’s already 29 degrees and set to get hotter this evening.
Steve and Alan are feeling the heat, having to pull their trolley around the estate delivering yet more giant pots to Breightmet’s growers. It’s been a frustrated few weeks following the vandalism at The Hub where Steve grows lots of his seedlings.
“Kids threw about 80% of our plants off the roof of the container, and then stamped all over them,” Steve tells me. “Most of those plants were for this project.”
Annoyed but undeterred, Steve has replaced many of the plants with ones he’s grown for his permaculture project. “So my growers are going to get all sorts of exotic varieties they will never heard of.”
He shows me the alley at the back of the UCAN where Alan is stacking the trolley for another trip. “These are ulloco tubers which are like new potatoes where every single potato is a different colour. They’re best roasted. Down in London, they’d fetch about £20 a kilo.”
Now there’s a thought. Imagine growers from across Bolton selling posh vegetables to even posher restaurants and making a tidy profit. “There’s no reason why not,” say Steve, “they already do it in other parts of the country.”
As well as the herbs already supplied to local growers Steve is adding lemon balm, from the mint family. “It grows like wildfire,” he says, lifting a small pot from the top of a wheelie bin. “Just rub your finger across that leaf, it smells just like the lemonade of our youth.” And he’s right, it does.
I quite like the idea of oca tubers and sea kale being grown and eaten in Breightmet. The estate’s growers and their families are already enjoying bumper crops of vegetables they’d
never normally buy in the supermarket, so why not the odd colourful potato? They’d be good to sketch too!