Food festival on 28th June
Community orchard
Public meeting on 25th June
Pennine Community Power
Book review
Save the bees
Green news

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UpBEAT no 38, June 2015 -
Blackshaw Food Festival takes off on 28th June

The first Blackshaw Food Festival takes place on Sunday the 28th June, starting at 12 noon and finishing at 8pm. There will be live music in a marquee and stalls outside the New Delight Inn at Jack Bridge until 8pm and inside the pub after 8pm. Inside the pub there will be talks on different aspects of food and local groups and food producers.

The food festival is organised by Great Rock Coop, Charlestown Allotment Group, Blackshaw Optimistic Gardeners Society (BOGs) and Blackshaw Environmental Action Team (BEAT). There will be a launch of BEAT’s community orchard, which is only a few minutes’ walk from the food festival. 75 apple and plum trees plus 35 soft fruit bushes have been planted by the community in the orchard.

The live music at the food festival is provided by a wide variety of local musicians: Richard Parkes, Catfish Skillet, Jumble Hole Clough, Clive Conner, Dave Nelson, Charlie Carr, Neil Munro, Rory Johnson and Shabby Cats.

There will be a variety of stalls giving out samples, information and selling food to take home or eat during the festival: jams, chutneys, pancakes, Cragg Cakes, vegan food, hog roast, Lhamo’s Kitchen, organic food, more cakes, Great Rock Coop with local cheeses, salads, wines, cordials and more.

There will be activities for  children: face painting, games and decorating cakes.

Among the talks inside the New Delight will be Jan and Sally from Great Rock Coop, Keith from BOGs, Lili and Ben from Valley Organics, Paulo from Aquaponics Lab, Graham will be performing his poems and Finn from BEAT will talk about the community orchard.

Updates on the food festival are available on our Facebook page called Blackshaw Food Festival – see here:

The organisers of the food festival would like to thank Calderdale Council, Great Rock Coop and BEAT for their grants towards the costs of organising this event.
Community Orchard

A picnic table and a bench have been purchased by BEAT from British Recycled Plastic in Mytholmroyd thanks to grants from LUSH and  the Ward Forum. We are very grateful for these contributions to BEAT’s work.

The picnic table and the bench will be delivered on Thursday 25th June. If you are able to give a hand lifting the furniture onto the community orchard please email

We hope to have the picnic table and the bench ready for the food festival on 28th June. Come and visit the orchard to see what the community – including Colden School - has managed to create.
Public meeting on Thursday 25th June

This public meeting will take place at Blackshaw Head Methodist Church, starting at 7.30pm. We have two speakers:

1.         “The Birds and the Bees” – Hugh Firman, Conservation Officer for Calderdale Council, will give an illustrated talk, explaining why grasslands are so important for a range of species and what can be done to conserve and restore them.

2.         Beth Morgan from Rooting and Fruiting,, will be speaking on 'What is radical bioremediation?'
Her talk will cover what she does, integrated food-fungi gardening, mycore mediation and benefits to our local community with questions and answers.
It will tie in nicely with her report released for the Winston Churchill Trust.
Pennine Community Power

With a grant from Northern Powergrid PCP has started doing development work to install photovoltaic (PV) solar panel projects. These projects will be financed through issuing community shares. However, before PCP makes the share offers PCP wants to have all the permissions in place: leases with the owners of the building, planning approval, permission from Northern Powergrid, structural surveys of the roofs, Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and financial modelling for the lifetime of the projects (minimum 20 years). The grant will pay for the professional fees for this development work.

PCP is currently doing detailed work on two projects with other possible projects in the pipeline. The first project PCP hopes to launch is one at Colden J&I school. The school governors have given their approval in principle. A structural survey of the roof allows for a 10kW PV system with around 40 panels.

Part of the plan is to have a live display inside the school and on a website of how much the solar panels produce at any given time and how much they have produced since installation. PCP also plans to purchase models of PV solar panels for the children to use during class – so they learn how green electricity is generated.

These projects will only go ahead if the feasibility study shows that it is feasible.
Book review
“Beyond Business As Usual – towards a sustainable food system”, a report by the Food Ethics Council, 2013, 62 pages.

This report is based on a range of 1-1 interviews in 2012 with senior business figures, policy makers, public servants and civil society organisations, supplemented by an online consultation and three roundtable discussions.

The report can be downloaded for free from where you can find a whole range of reports.

The report first looks at barriers to achieving a fair, healthy and environmentally sustainable food system and identifies three main barriers:
  1. Insufficient demand: “Society’s attachment to, and dependence upon, cheap food is a critical barrier in moving towards a sustainable food system.”
  2. Commercial and operational obstacles: “For many businesses, there are insufficient incentives to adopt such [sustainable] practices.”
  3. Lack of government leadership: “Most damagingly, the government has not provided the coherent, joined-up, long-term food policy that businesses – and other sectors of society – require …”.
The report then looks at the next phase towards a sustainable food system and list three main areas for change:
  1. How the market operates: “The food prices must reflect the full social and environmental costs of production – the era of ‘cheap food’ is over. But as food prices inevitable rise, steps must be taken to ensure that all people have access to a healthy, affordable diet.”
  2. New business models: “business models that are commercially successful by providing social value within the limits of the planet.”
  3. Fundamental shift in government approach: “Most fundamentally, government must reconsider its faith in an economic model premised on continued economic growth.”
Finally, the report lists priorities for what businesses, government and civil society should do to implement the above. Although some of the priorities are common sense one has to ask whether even the sum of them is sufficient to create a sustainable food system.

For example: do we need to move to a fully organic food system, based primarily on local food production rather than importing from around the world, do we need to drastically reduce our meat consumption – particularly red meat – to make the food system sustainable, which must include reducing the food sectors high level of greenhouse gas emissions (around 18% of total emissions).

However, the report is an important contribution to how we need to create a sustainable food system.
Why are bees important?
Our bees are in danger again. An application was submitted to the government asking them to lift the ban on bee-killing chemicals for some crops planted this autumn.

Bees don’t have a voice, but we do. Please can you sign the petition demanding that we keep the ban on bee-killing pesticides?

Click here to add your name:

Almost 80% of crop pollination by wild bees is provided by just 2% of the most common species, say scientists.

In the UK, a small number of bees are vital for crops such as oilseed rape, apples and strawberries, according to the University of Reading team.

But protecting a wide range of bees would "provide an insurance policy against future ecological shocks, such as climate change", the scientists say.

The value of wild bee pollination is estimated at £1bn a year in the UK.

Prof Simon Potts, director of the Centre for Agri-Environmental Research at Reading, said: "The few bee species that currently pollinate our crops are unlikely to be the same types we will need in the future.

"It is critical to protect a wide range of bees and other insects now so that, as Britain's climate, environment and crop varieties change, we can call on the pollinating species which are best suited to the task.

"We can't just rely on our current starting line-up of pollinators.

"We need a large and diverse group of species on the substitutes' bench, ready to join the game as soon as they are needed, if we are to ensure food production remains stable."

Economic arguments
An international team of scientists reviewed data from five continents on the work of wild bees in pollinating crops.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, indicated the pollinating work of wild bees was worth about £1,900 per hectare globally.

Most of this work was done by a small number of common species, such as some types of bumblebees and solitary bees.

However, the researchers say conservation efforts should be aimed at a wide number of species - even those that currently contribute little to crop pollination - in order to maintain biodiversity and ensure future food security.

Dr Mike Garratt, of the University of Reading, said focusing only on wild bees that had financial value today for agriculture would be a mistake.

"That misses the vast majority of bee species," he said. "They are important pollinators of thousands of wild plants - we can't afford to lose that either."

The research adds to debate over the value of economic factors in conservation.

Benefits that people gain from nature - known as ecosystem services - are increasingly being used as an argument for conservation efforts.

In the case of bees, too much focus on services delivered - such as pollination - may lead to neglect of rarer species that could be important in the future, the scientists say.

Commenting on the study, Prof Pat Willmer of the University of St Andrews said: "The key point is that wild bees, mostly the solitary bees, matter greatly for crop pollination, just as many other studies just looking at one crop at a time have already shown.

"But crucially the commonest wild bees are the most important, which gives us the 'win-win' situation where relatively cheap and easy conservation measures can support these and give maximum benefit for the crops.

"For example, planting wild flowers with wider grassy margins around crops, as well as less intensive or more organic farming, all enhance abundance of the key crop-visiting bees."
Green news
Obama's $4bn clean-energy initiative: a big number hiding a bigger idea 
Brandon Keim, The Guardian 

UK political consensus on fracking for gas disintegrates 
Ed King, RTCC 

Alaska’s glaciers are now losing 75 billion tons of ice every year 
Chris Mooney, Washington Post 

How fossil fuel emissions could take protein from the diets of the world’s poorest people 
Graham Readfearn, The Guardian 

Science vine: how do solar panels work? 
The Guardian 

Carbon Brief has read though the Papal Encyclical and here are the document's key statements on climate, energy and the environment...
On energy transition: "There is an urgent need to develop policies so that, in the next few years, the emission of carbon dioxide and other highly polluting gases can be drastically reduced, for example, substituting for fossil fuels and developing sources of renewable energy."
On population growth versus consumerism: "To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues."
On fossil-fuel phaseout: We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels - especially coal, but also oil and, to a lesser degree, gas - needs to be progressively replaced without delay."
On responsibilities: "We must continue to be aware that, regarding climate change, there are differentiated responsibilities."
On solar energy: "Taking advantage of abundant solar energy will require the establishment of mechanisms and subsidies...The costs of this would be low, compared to the risks of climate change."
On "international agreements": Enforceable international agreements are urgently needed, since local authorities are not always capable of effective intervention."
On the "precautionary principle": If objective information suggests that serious and irreversible damage may result, a project should be halted or modified, even in the absence of indisputable proof." 

Statistic of the day:
proportion of electricity in the EU generated from renewable sources in 2014, up from 24% four years ago

Source: European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity, via CleanTechnica,
Contact BEAT:
Ashley Sharp (secretary), tel: 07855 746295, email:
Finn Jensen (treasurer), tel: 01422 846863, email:
Copyright © 2015 Blackshaw Environmental Action Team, All rights reserved.

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