Sunday, 16 September 2012

An Alara Adventure

Last week, I finally got round to checking out Camden Garden Centre, tucked in a little side street less than 1km from my house. It's a cool little place, with a fantastic selection of cacti and succulents, but I was broke so I didn't pick any up. I did, however, pick up this leaflet:

Captivated by the thought of meeting (possibly single) dirty hippies and entranced by the word "smallholding", I decided to head down there and see what was what and check out their garden. Hidden on an industrial estate, it wasn't the easiest place to find, but what a cool little find it was! A long thin vegetable garden with many established plants, including some I'd never seen before, like the Japanese wine-berry, and even a couple of beehives.

It turns out Alara is a cereal company, not just the name of a garden. Their factory/warehouse is based on Camley St, pretty much equal distance from home and school. Alara was founded in 1975 by a squatter who found £2 in the gutter. I met him; his name is Alex and he runs the garden. Alex was very nice.

As promised on the back of the flyer, there was a compost area that needed clearing. It consisted of a sizeable mound of earth and rubble, and a skip to dump the lot in. I got stuck in with a pickaxe and managed an extremely rewarding sweaty 2 hours in the afternoon sun, clearing roughly 1/3rd of the pile. For my excellent slave labour efforts, I was paid in cereals:

Afterwards, Alex and I had a rewarding talk about how people are made of dirt, which I guess means we're all really dirtbags.

I doubt this is the last I've seen of Alara's garden. 1- because I've missed being outdoors with sweat-marks the size of Texas and a daunting physical task in front of me, and 2- because I'm sure I heard the phrase "free lunch" some time during the day. FREE LUNCH.

In other news, here's a collaborative painting Sajan and I threw together after a massive chicken dinner and probably too much wine. The colours are more vibrant in the flesh.

I need to get into the habit of speed painting so I actually have stuff to sell in my stupid art gallery. Pfffffffft, business.

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