A NEW SCHEME aimed at bringing renewable energy to the Crystal Palace area could be coming to a roof near you.
Crystal Palace Transition Town are looking to establish a co-operative and inviting local people and others to invest money which will be used to buy a solar panel as part of a community energy project.
The panel – which generates electricity – would then be put on a large south-facing roof with the electricity it produces then sold to the building’s owner.
“We want the project to be commercially sustainable so the panel might go on a commercial building” Esther Stoakes of the Transition Town’s Palace Power group told the TT’s annual meeting at the Salvation Army Centre, Westow Street on Wednesday.
“Money comes back into the co-operative to pay back the investors who have put money into the project. “That financial return is absolutely key to making these projects successful.
“We do have some roof owners around Crystal Palace that are potentially interested. “We’re talking about setting up an electricity company – but it’s perfectly possible.”
In a review highlighting the past year, Transition Town activities have included gardening at the Crystal Palace museum, building bat boxes, creating the Tipsy Garden at the Grape and Grain pub on Anerley Hill, setting up a ‘bugs club’ for kids in Westow Park; initiating the ‘Palace Pick-Up’ which cleared rubbish from a site in Auckland Road, making bicycle-powered smoothies and buying hops to grow for the ‘Palace pint’.
EDIBLE GARDEN: Rachel de Thample said a ‘bring a plant’ day at the garden in Westow Park had resulted in people who had brought plants along coming back and looking after them. The garden was a “really engaging space” which had won a Capital Growth award and was one of 15 gardens to become part of that organisation’s pilot to grow 1 million London meals this year.
Shortly after the edible garden group had started the idea of ‘edible Crystal Palace’ had followed and there were now around 10 mini-food projects that had come out of the garden growing group.
The aim is to get more food produced in the Crystal Palace area and engage with local restaurants and food suppliers. “We’ve farmers wanting to buy our rocket” she added.
PERMACULTURE GARDEN: Clare Goff outlined the work the permaculture garden group had done on a residential garden in Central Hill where the aim was to grow more in line with nature and in a low-maintenance way and not dig the soil up every year. A Hugel (hugelkultur) building, a semi circular mound which holds moisture much better, had been built and was being planted. Garlic. raspberries, hops and grapes were already growing there.
BUGS CLUB: Youngsters had helped create bee and bug habitats and a hedgehog hideaway at the edible garden in Westow Park, said Laura Earle. Bird feeders had been made from wellies, a bird bath from terracotta pots. Bee-friendly edible flowers and butterfly-friendly flowers had been planted.
CRYSTAL PALACE MUSEUM GARDEN: Planting outside the museum has included a dwarf cherry tree, fig tree and grapevine said Lucy Hopkins.
JAMMING: Another spin-off from the edible garden has been jam-making. Proudly declaring: “We are the jam ladies” Laura Marchant-Short told the meeting 50 jars of jam had been sold to The Secret Garden behind Sainsbury’s and 80 jars to Local Greens in Herne Hill. “We’ve learned a lot and we have forged a lot of links with local businesses who are buying our jam.” It had also been “quite a training ground” for the forthcoming food market. Jams can be tried at Bambino on Church Road and at Casa Cuba on the corner of Belvedere and Church Roads.
‘LOCAL AND FAIR’ Lynette Aitken said they were working with local businesses to raise the awareness of consumers around fair trade, enabling farmers in poorer countries to produce things in a more sustainable way.A special meal at Domali on Westow Street had raised funds for Norwood Foodbank. A guide to sustainable shopping and eating in Crystal Palace had been produced and which is on the TT website. Last year they had won an award from the Fairtrade Foundation.
But she cautioned: “A lot of our chocolate brands are still using slave labour.”
PALACE PINTS AND BEER GROWING: More than 100 packs of hops have been sold to local people who will grow them on and then return them to get turned into beer in a partnership with the Late Knights brewery in Penge. Joe Duggan, on behalf of Karolina Walicka, added:”It’s also a really great project for people who don’t get Transition Town but do like beer.”
PALACE PICK-UP: Anna Kostyrina had found some derelict sites in the area that were really neglected. covered in rubbish which she felt should be cleared up and items recycled or ‘upcycled’, Robbie Gibson told the meeting. Ideas for upcycling included making crocodiles out of dumped tyres. “It was a lot of fun and very sociable” he added. The meeting heard that after the first pick-up in Auckland Road a ‘thank you’ note had been left.
FUTURE PLANS: include an outreach project and a new transport group. Sylvia Gurr said they were in the very early stages of forming an outreach group aimed at people living in the YMCA on Sylvan Hill. Ideas for residents there to become engaged in the community rather than excluded from it included music production. Joe Duggan said a spoken word person was also interested in working with them.
During the meeting Joe Duggan, who co-chairs CPTT, said: “We are a do-ocracy. “Decisions are made by the people that do. “We are not guided by ‘should’ or ‘hopes’,.” He said that when CPTT started and they told people who they were the response was: “Eh?”. Now they say “We know who you are.”