Sting Like a Bee!

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(Photo credit: Chantal van Genderen)

Thanks to everyone who came along to Pakhuis de Zwijger last night, to hear about the current bee situation from UK Prof. Dave Goulson, NL Prof. Koos Biesmeijer (Scientific Director of Naturalis) and the other speakers. Lynn spoke about the River of Herbs project in an interview alongside Amsterdam city ecologist and author Remco Dalder – about the local situation and how people can get involved. Here they are with moderator Andrea van Pol.

The event was part of a two year series at Pakhuis de Zwijger called De Hongerige Stad (the hungry city), provoking thought and action about city-food issues.

It was great to be inspired by others and to spread the word about our project. We are looking forward to developing our research ideas and collaborating with other green minds, as a result of the evening. Thank you Pakhuis de Zwijger for the opportunity – Events like this give us such a buzz!

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Posted in Bees

Paramariboplein – River of Herbs

Photo credit: Carol Poye Paramariboplein – River of Herbs

For English click here.
Paramariboplein is een stereotiep buurtpleintje in de Amsterdamse wijk De Baarsjes. Het heeft een groot speelplein, en is omgeven door bomen en rijtjesuizen. Afgelopen herfst vroeg bewoner Annie Chou ons om haar te helpen het pleintje een groener en een meer natuurlijke uitstraling te geven. Wij namen de uitdaging aan en stelden een plan op waarmee we op een eenvoudige manier het gebied zouden transformeren. We bespraken onze ideeën met Annie en uiteindelijk heeft zij een subsidieaanvraag gedaan bij Stadsdeel West. Zij namen het plan met haar door en zegden direct de volledige subsidie toe! Gemeentes en stadsdelen zijn meestal blij met bewoners die met bruikbare, weloverwogen plannen komen voor de eigen leefomgeving. Ons duurzame, low cost-high impact plan werden goed ontvangen.

herbs for city streets Paramariboplein

Herbs for Paramariboplein – Grown, donated and purchased.

We benaderden ook de bewoners van het Paramariboplein zodat zij hun gedachten erover met ons konden delen, zo wisten wij of zij het wel een leuk idee vonden. Vervolgens gingen we aan de slag. We zorgden voor planten, de grond en voor het materiaal voor de wilgenhekjes.

Willow woven fences - Parimariboplein - Tayfun Yalcin & Aurel Chaul - River of Herbs

Photo credit: Annie Chaoul. Willow woven fences – Paramariboplein – Tayfun Yalcin & Aurel Chaul

Op 28 maart 2015 waren de handgemaakte wilgenhekjes klaar (dankzij Tayfun Yalcin and Aurel Chaoul) en hielden we de plantdag. Annie, Carol Poye (van BeeCare Amsterdam) en wat buurtbewoners werkten op die koude, mistige dag door tot alle twintig boomspiegels een laagje nieuwe grond hadden en volstonden met planten.

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Photo credit: Annie Chou. Paramariboplein tree pit with willow fence and herbs.

Sommige planten waren gekweekt door Carol en Lynn Shore, andere waren gedoneerd door andere gemeenschappelijke tuinen en de rest was met korting aangeschaft bij BeeCare Amsterdam en Intratuin Amsterdam. Onze plantenlijst moest sterkte, bijvriendelijke planten bevatten, die de locatie aan zouden kunnen en jarenlang zouden kunnen voorzien in kleur, geur, smaak*, structuur en – het belangrijkst – nectar.

We kozen voor kamille, geranium, kaasjeskruid, dovenetel, vrouwenmantel, rozemarijn, lavendel, valeriaan en vele andere. Carol komt in mei terug om extra kruden bij te planten en Annie heeft heel veel wilde bloemenzaad dat later in de lente zal worden gezaaid. Lynn hoopt ergens deze zomer een straattuinierworkshop te geven.

Planting day at Parimariboplein

Planting day at Paramariboplein

Zoals je kunt zien, zijn er bij de makeover ook robuuste, gewoven wilgenhekjes gemaakt, is er een grondlaag bijgekomen en vele kruiden. Annie heeft er bovendien een prachtige gemeenschappelijke boekenkast ingericht, waar buurtbewoners boeken kunnen uitwisselen. Dit is populair in Amsterdamse buurten en we hopen dat het een succes is hier op het Paramariboplein.

Annies Bookcase Parimariboplein

Community Bookcase Paramariboplein

We zijn erg blij met het resultaat van dit project. Dit was onze eerste samenwerking met Stadsdeel West. Meerdere buurtbewoners hebben Annie verteld hoezeer ze het intiatief op prijs stellen en we hopen dat dit de eerste van vele van zulke River of Herbs – buurt – stadsdeelprojecten is. Als je Annie en de andere buurtbewoners wil helpen om deze herleefde boomspiegels te verzorgen, neem dan alsjeblieft contact met ons op en wij zullen je met haar in contact brengen (riverofherbs@gmail.com).

Photo credit: Carol Poye. Paramariboplein – River of Herbs.

Als je hulp of inspiratie zoekt voor het transformeren van je eigen buurt, neem dan alsjeblieft contact op, wellicht kan River of Herbs je bijstaan! We zijn bereikbaar via riverofherbs@gmail.com of bel Lynn op 0627596930.

Photo credit: Marieke. Carol Poye – River of Herbs Planting day – Paramariboplein

*Taste – Do we you mean eat herbs from a treepit? Well, we don’t suggest that residents pick and eat herbs from treepits. Local cats and dogs also pass by them and city streets are never clean but we do suggest that you get to know which edible herbs can grow in such spaces, maybe take a few cuttings from them to grow elsewhere and save some seed, to grow “clean” plants in other spots and pots. We can show you how to do this in our free workshops, if you want to know more.

Posted in Paramariboplein, Tree pits

Green Help from Local Businesses

Could your business help the River of Herbs to flow?

Some River of Herbs projects have been directly funded by one-off grants and awards (such as our Schools Project) but most of our activities are not and rely completely on donated plants and materials (such as the Frankendael Orchards and Tuintje 77). We need extra funds to cover new and expanding projects so we would like to invite local businesses to support us in exchange for their employees spending some time working with us on set projects. Here are a couple of options which we offer to business groups:

1. Orchard Work Mornings
Park Frankendael, Oost Watergraafsmeer

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Most Wednesday mornings through spring, summer and autumn, RoH volunteers work on tasks in our community orchards. We can welcome groups  of helpers (up to 16) from businesses who want to get out of the office for a while and help to:

  • Improve the local environment
  • Practice gardening skills
  • Learn about wild herbs
  • Feel the dirt on their hands!

The orchards are directly behind Restaurant Merkelbach. Wednesday mornings with the team are always a pleasure. When we have a group coming to help, we can plan specific tasks in advance to suit your interests (such as willow weaving, pruning, seed saving, wild garlic sharing or wildlife monitoring). Please see business volunteer costs and wishlist below.

2. Street Gardening
Ideally close to your office, Amsterdam

Parimariboplein

Parimariboplein

River of Herbs leaders are specialists in transforming neglected patches of waste land such as tree pits (boomspiegels), pavement gardens (geveltuinen) and roadsides into a blaze of colour and scent, to catch the eyes of bees, butterflies and people. We can work with helpers from your company (max 30 people) to transform a local street. Perhaps the street where your office is located. Perhaps somewhere close by which needs a boost. This will involve some forward planning (e.g. adopting spaces from the council and buying plants) but it is a task we love and are experienced with.  With a group of able helpers from your business, this is also a quick way to improve your area and to show your neighbours that you care for the local environment. Please see business costs below.

Costs
Orchard work mornings –
We ask a minimum contribution of €10 per person attending from your workplace. This can be paid directly into the association’s (verenigings’) bank account or in the form of materials which are on our wish list (in which case, please check via telephone or email that the item you select is still needed before purchasing).

Street gardening events – When organised specifically for a business, we will discuss your needs by telephone, visit the site, establish needs, help with council arrangements and send a team of RoH leaders to run the planting session.  Streets and needs vary as will quoted costs.

Wishlist
River of Herbs currently needs these items:
Trowels – €4 each (all locations)
Empty seed packets – €5 per 100 (all locations and events)
Children’s tools – €10 per set (all locations, school and BSO projects)
Organic Bee Friendly Seed Mix – €20 per kg (tree pits, workshops, marketing, all locations)
Organic Seed for individual herbs – €3 per packet (all projects)
2 Spades and 2 shovels –  from €30 each (orchards)
Wheelbarrow – approx €60 (orchards)
Professional Woodburner – approx €100 (signs, all locations)
Badge/button press  – € 248,05 incl. btw (raise funds, new membership scheme, events)

seed packet stamp river of herbs

Contact
Please contact Lynn Shore via riverofherbs@gmail.com or 06 275 96930, to discuss how your business can become involved with River of Herbs.

Pruning day 2014

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Posted in Business Volunteers, Orchards, Workshops

Paramariboplein – River of Herbs Makeover

Photo credit: Carol Poye Paramariboplein – River of Herbs

Voor Nederlands klik hier.
Paramariboplein is a typical residential square in the Amsterdam Baarsjes district, with a large central playground surrounded by treepits and terraced houses. Last autumn, local resident Annie Chou requested that we help to transform the plein into a greener, more natural area. We accepted the challenge and made a plan of how to simply makeover the area. We discussed our ideas with Annie and then after some tweaking, she approached the local council (Stadsdeel West) for funding. They met with her, looked at the planning and agreed to 100% funding straight away! Local councils are often delighted when residents have useful, well considered plans for the local environment. Our sustainable, low cost, high impact options were well received.

herbs for city streets Paramariboplein

Herbs for Paramariboplein – Grown, donated and purchased.

Paramariboplein residents were also approached to find out their thoughts, ideas and to check that they actually liked the plan. With that done, we forged ahead growing herbs, buying others, sourcing soil and willow fencing materials and getting to work.

Willow woven fences - Parimariboplein - Tayfun Yalcin & Aurel Chaul - River of Herbs

Photo credit: Annie Chaoul. Willow woven fences – Paramariboplein – Tayfun Yalcin & Aurel Chaul

On 28th March 2015, with the handmade willow fences in place (thanks to Tayfun Yalcin and Aurel Chaoul) we had a planting day. Annie, Carol Poye (from BeeCare Amsterdam) and a few locals worked through a cold, damp day to fill all 20 treepits with soil and herbs.

IMG_20150328_150330

Photo credit: Annie Chou. Paramariboplein tree pit with willow fence and herbs.

 

Some of the plants were grown by Carol and Lynn Shore, others were donated from local community gardens and the rest were purchased at discount from BeeCare Amsterdam and Intratuin Amsterdam. Our plant list had to include tough, bee freindly herbs which should be able to withstand the location and provide years of colour, scent, taste*, texture and most importantly – nectar. We included chamomile, geranium, malvas, dead nettles, lady’s mantle, rosemary, lavender, valerian and many many more. Carol will return in May to plant extra herbs and Annie has lots of wild flower seeds to sow later this spring. Lynn hopes to run a street gardening workshop there sometime in the summer.

Planting day at Parimariboplein

Planting day at Paramariboplein

As you can see, the makeover included sturdy willow woven fences, top-up soil and plenty of herb plants. Annie also incorporated this wonderful community bookcase, where locals can exchange books. These are popular in parts of Amsterdam and we hope it will be a great success here in Paramariboplein.

Annies Bookcase Parimariboplein
We are delighted with the result of this project. This was our first collaboration with Stadsdeel West. Several locals have passed on their appreciation to Annie and we hope that this is the first of many such River of Herbs – Community – Stadsdeel projects. If you would like to help Annie and other locals take care of these rejuvinated tree pits then please contact us and we will connect you with her (riverofherbs@gmail.com).

Photo credit: Carol Poye. Paramariboplein – River of Herbs.

If you are looking for help or inspiration in transforming your neighbourhood then please do get in touch, River of Herbs may be able to help! We can be reached via riverofherbs@gmail.com or telephone Lynn on 0627596930.

Photo credit: Marieke. Carol Poye – River of Herbs Planting day – Paramariboplein

*Taste – Do we you mean eat herbs from a treepit? Well, we don’t suggest that residents pick and eat herbs from treepits. Local cats and dogs also pass by them and city streets are never clean but we do suggest that you get to know which edible herbs can grow in such spaces, maybe take a few cuttings from them to grow elsewhere and save some seed, to grow “clean” plants in other spots and pots. We can show you how to do this in our free workshops, if you want to know more.

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Posted in Amsterdam River, Bees, Growing, Tree pits

Badge Design Competition

Photocredit: ihaveaproblemwithpinbacks.wordpress.com

We will soon launch a River of Herbs membership scheme which we hope will attract many more people to get involved and to help attract funding to sustain River of Herbs projects (such as offering free training, creating community wildlife-herb gardens, donating seed and plants to street and community gardens, creating school herb gardens). To help this along we want to produce pin badges (buttons) with an eyecatching design, to reflect what we are all about.

The finished badges will be about 45mm diameter and need to (in some way) reflect the River of Herbs mission to teach city people how to grow herbs which help pollinating insects and people.

How to enter
If you are feeling creative and inspired to help the River of Herbs project, please send your badge designs as GIF, JPG or PNG files to riverofherbs@gmail.com. Please include your name, address and telephone number in the email (and your age if you like). Images can be in colour or grayscale. Remember that the design needs to look good on a 45mm badge. The badge design should include our name “River of Herbs” in some way. If this is difficult and your entry wins, we will add River of Herbs to the finished badge design. We will do our best to reply to all entry emails within one week. Deadline for us receiving entries is Thursday 30th April 2015. A panel of River of Herbs volunteers will then sit down with a pot of herb tea, some chocolate biscuits and decide on a winner.

Prize
The winner will be notified by email or telephone by Friday 8th May 2015. The winner will receive a private guided herb walk (for themself and three friends) in Amsterdam from Lynn, 10 packets of bee and butterfly friendly herb seeds and a year family membership with River of Herbs (more details on that later!). They will also be mentioned on our support page.

We hope that you would like to enter this competition and look forward to receiving your entry!

Posted in About

Tuintje 77 – Want to join the team?

What a productive morning today! We looked at the plan I drew up, worked on the native edible hedge, planted-in donated fruit bushes and began the pollinator herb spiral. We are looking for more locals to join the group so please share, especially to people in Amsterdam Oost who want to make this a great community garden whilst learning Permaculture methods at the same time!

We meet for 2 hours on the third Monday of each month (9.30 – 11.30).
Sessions are free and take place whatever the weather.
Location is near Jaap Eden ijsbaan. Contact Lynn Shore or Cato if you are keen! (Riverofherbs@gmail.com)

Posted in Uncategorized

Volunteer opportunities – Video and Surveys

Would you like to volunteer some time and energy to the River of Herbs project?

We are always glad to hear from people who would like to help in different ways. Here are two new activities with which we need some help – a short video and eco-surveys. If you are keen to get involved (or in any other way) then contact us at riverofherbs@gmail.com or call Lynn on 0627596930.

Short Video
We would like to create a short video (3 mins max) to help inform people about what we do in the River of Herbs project.
We want it to provide a quick impression of the project to

    • inform website visitors
    • help raise funds
    • share at public talks
    • help us network
    • give practical ideas

We need some help to make this video. The plan is for short clips and images from our work mornings in the orchards, the schools project (no kids), street gardening, courses, seed swaps etc. Would you like to help us to do this over spring and summer 2015? Maybe you can help with some simple advice on how to take decent mini clips? Can we do it with smart phones? Which free online editing software is best? Maybe you can help us to edit the material or subtitle in Dutch? We don’t know exactly what to ask because we don’t know how to do it! Any ideas/tips/guidance is welcome.

Eco-Surveys
We believe that urban herb meadows make a difference on many levels and we want to know more about this. For some time we have been quietly planning ways to scientifically survey new sites that are herbally-transformed by volunteers but we have never quite got around to it – we are too busy planning and planting!  If you have a scientific background (at any level) and would like to help us with this in a voluntary capacity then please make contact. Perhaps this could interest ecology students? Perhaps social studies students? Perhaps school classes? Perhaps you could monitor a small location outside of your home? The surveys we have considered include quantifying plant and animals species in tree pits, orchards, roadsides etc before and after we plant them with herbs. Also examining the impact of planting urban areas over time. There must be many other options which could appeal to students and enthusiasts.

Update: Since writing this post, Dave Goulson (Univ. of Sussex) has kindly offered to help us identify bumblebees which are spotted at our locations. We are still looking for experts in other fields to offer forms of help. We can’t wait to get started!

Interested? Then please contact Lynn at riverofherbs@gmail.com or call 0627596930.

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Posted in Amsterdam River, Bees, Bugs, Geveltuin/pavement garden, Growing

Free Online Course

Photo credit: Laura Dana
Lynn making willow rooting tea.

River of Herbs courses help people to plan, plant and maintain urban herb gardens of all shapes and sizes – as cheaply and soundly as possible. The course booklets (previously only available on this site) are now available as a FREE interactive course via TansyTurnip.org.  Tansy Turnip is the educational site run by Lynn Shore (who runs River of Herbs) and City Plot  (it is where they offer various paid gardening/herbology courses).

The free online ROH course is being improved each month. Already, sessions one and two have plenty of links and photos to help illustrate each teaching point. Short videos about how to make free plants, will be added later this week, following the second Tuintje 77 River of Herbs meeting.

Help with Photos, Videos and Translations.
Can you make/share short video clips or original urban gardening photos to enhance the lessons? If so, please let us know! We want this to be a fabulous free resource for innovative city herb gardening which can help people wherever they live. With your help this can happen quickly.

Sepp Buys, Michele Antoinette and Leoniek Bontje have already translated heaps of teaching material into Dutch for us. If you would like to help translate the Tansy Turnip lessons into Dutch or Spanish (or any other language), then please get in touch.
Email us at riverofherbs@gmail.com right away!

Posted in Uncategorized

Fruity Haircuts

Pruning 2014

Our first Pruning Day at Frankendael orchards was a great success.  Twelve volunteers helped to carefully remove the old, neglected apple, pear and quince trees. Stadsdeel Oost kindly lent us excellent pruning equiptment which we used to remove dead, dangerous or problematic branches.  Many of these branches were causing the trees to topple over or split.

Tayfun pruning day 2014

It is many years since the trees have been pruned so we worked as lightly as possible. Our intention: to improve the health and longevity of the trees rather than to increase fruit production. Pruned branches will be buried in the orchards to slowly fertilise the soil and a few branches have been taken to Restaurant Merkelbach for use in winter decorations.

Arching pear tree before pruning 2014

Here (above and below) is the beautiful arching pear tree beside the terrace of Restaurant Merkelbach. It always looks great but has become too heavy in recent years so today it had a hair cut. It still looks very beautiful but is now more likely to live on healthily for many years.

Pruning day 2014

In the spring or summer we will prune the cherry and plum trees within the four orchards but every week there is something interesting to here. They are a real haven in the city, adopted by River of Herbs from Stadsdeel Oost in April 2014.  They are gradually being transformed into natural looking community gardens where wild and cultivated herbs grow underfoot and old fruit trees reach up overhead. Perhaps you would like to come and help sometime? You don’t need any experience, just a willingness to have a go.  Join us any Wednesday morning 9.30 – 11.30 (and Saturday mornings in the spring/summer) or stay in touch via our Facebook group or this website. We were helped today by three volunteers from Vrienden van Frankendael. Please also check out their website to see what else is happening in Park Frankendael – lots of interesting things!

Quince post pruning 2014

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Tuintje 77

Tuintje 77 November 2015

We have begun the latest River of Herbs course in a delightful “volkstuin” (Dutch garden and small house in a large allotment style complex) in Amsterdam Oost Watergraafsmeer.  Cato, the owner of Tuintje 77, wants her beautiful naturalised garden to gradually develop into a community garden where everyone collaborates to learn, grow and share harvest. We have arranged to help the process along by teaching the free RoH course there every third Monday morning of the month. So every four months will be the chance for new people to join in, learn the RoH gardening methods and start to collaborate in Cato’s community garden project. Today was the first session and we had a lovely time.

Our group of eight worked on planning how to take the garden forward for wildlife and people whilst considering its location, existing plants and structures, the needs and wishes of Cato’s family, the intended community garden idea, the regulations of the Volkstuin complex and her neighbours.  There is a lot to think about! Today we worked on relocating small hazel saplings from the flower beds to the edge of the plot, to create a multifunctional hedge. We also pulled out Ash saplings which can quickly take over such a plot, rapidly spreading Bamboo was thinned, a couple of trees and shrubs were pruned and good coffee and cake were eaten! All in all a very pleasant, gezellig morning.

Late summer tuintje 77

The next meeting will be the third Monday of January 2015. The course is full (the next one will start at Tuintje 77 in April 2015) but if you want to get in contact with Cato (the owner) or Lynn and Brigitta (the ROH Elders for this course) then please do so via riverofherbs@gmail.com.

The RoH course is now being piloted online and is being held on www.tansyturnip.org. It is free to follow and the resources are being improved each time we run a session. You can download notes there, follow links, see photos and soon will be able to watch video clips to help explain our techniques.  Please take a look and let us know how your River of Herbs garden planning is coming along.

Posted in Course