Welcoming Jo to Replenish

Hi, I’m Jo and I’m thrilled to be taking on the role of Replenish Project Coordinator from December. I originally trained in nutrition and dietetics and I’m looking forward to working on a project that promotes eating well, alongside wasting less.

I’m passionate about reducing waste, especially in the kitchen, as well as recycling and home composting. This year I took part in plastic free July which raised my awareness of just how much plastic still enters my home. I carried out a bin audit in October, which finally led to my first trip to a refill shop. I loved it!

Anaïs has done fantastic work in her four years of running the project that I’m excited to continue. Anaïs will be continuing to work for our organisation, Community Action Groups Oxfordshire, in her new role as Community Wealth Building Lead. You can find out more about our community wealth building partnership here: Owned by Oxford.

I like to grow shrubs, flowering perennials and fruit/veg together, but do have a couple of patches I keep mostly for annual veg.

I never have enough time in the garden, so have put in more perennial veg to reduce the amount of work. I now have plenty of babington leeks (pictured), which have a mild garlic-onion flavour, welsh onions and two kinds of perennial kale. 

I learnt early on to focus on growing the fruit and veg you actually like and eat. Most years I grow tomatoes, chillies, spinach, beetroot, radish, potatoes, beans, courgettes, raspberries and strawberries. Another tip is to grow what is expensive to buy and what tastes best straight from the garden. I love the flavour of warm sun ripened tomatoes or strawberries straight from the plant. They often don’t even make it to the kitchen.

I garden organically and have a wildlife friendly or ‘untidy’ garden. We added a pond and the RSPB slogan ‘if you build it they will come’ is so true. We have plenty of dragon and damselflies, frogs and newts, and far fewer slugs!

We also have plants with berries for the birds and this time of year see redwings eating them. Earlier in the autumn, a pair of jays were spotted planting acorns in the lawn and my pots. This year we left the lawn unmowed for so long that we had to borrow a scythe to cut it! As you can see, there are plenty of dandelions, which I have turned into dandelion honey.

We inherited two large compost bays at our house and so I’ve been making my own compost for the last ten years. We since built another free standing bin from an old bed frame and pallets. The last year or two I’ve found we don’t have as much green material – as a result of cutting the grass less and the dry weather – so I have arranged for a neighbour to drop off their rabbit bedding. This is really a mix of green and brown material already, but I think it will be quite high in nitrogen so we’ll see how it goes. 

When it comes to cooking and preserving the inevitable gluts, I would describe my approach as simple and experimental. I don’t generally follow recipes, but if I do, they ideally have few ingredients. A couple of days ago we had some leftover cooked sprouts and too many courgettes to eat, so I stir-fried them with lots of chilli and spring onion and added to pasta – I don’t even like sprouts, but it tasted pretty good.

I’d love to hear more about you. Let me know your favourite leftover recipe, fruit or veg to grow, or what went well for you last year, despite the drought: jo@cagoxfordshire.org.uk

3 thoughts on “Welcoming Jo to Replenish

  1. Hi Jo, what a coincidence I was on fb and there was a blog regarding community groups in Yorkshire. Then your email popped up regarding Oxfordshire community groups. I live in Wheatley and come under S Oxford so will be keeping an out for events locally.


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