Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus

We’ve all got them … those slightly sorry, broken objects stuffed into the cupboard under the stairs.  You think you’ll get round to sorting them out one day.  Or if you’re not handy (like us here at New in Cambridge!), you try to find someone who can fix these things then realise that the humongous repair bill means that it probably makes more sense to chuck said objects out and buy new.  But for Cambridgeshire dwellers, there is a better way.

Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus
Image credit: Cambridge Carbon Footprint

The Royston Repair Cafe inspired Cambridge Carbon Footprint and Transition Cambridge to kickstart the Cambridgeshire repair cafe movement about four years ago,  to help reduce waste and promote skill sharing in a socially welcoming environment.  Fifteen groups now run repair cafes across the county and last year, Cambridge hosted the world’s biggest repair cafe, comfortably smashing the world record for the number of repairs made.

Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus
Image credit: Cambridge Carbon Footprint
Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus
Image credit: CCF

There’s a Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus happening on Saturday 22 September at St. Andrew’s Hall, Chesterton, from 1 – 4pm.  It’s a simple system.  A whole range of experienced repairers volunteer their time and skills to fix all sorts of items from electricals to jewellery and bikes to books.  You either pre-book or just turn up (in which case there might be a short wait) with your object for repair.  There is no charge for mending things but donations are always welcome and Cambridge Carbon Footprint is grateful to Mackays and Draper Tools who sponsor and supply the tools used by the repairers.  Most things can be fixed but for the 15% of items that can’t, they’ll advise you on recycling and disposal.

 

Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus
Image credit: Cambridge Carbon Footprint

You’ll also find a sewing repairs skillshare.  Here you can learn basic sewing skills like hemming, darning and sewing on buttons that mean you can make simple repairs yourself in future.  And if you’ve got any unfinished sewing or knitting projects hanging around, they’ll help you get to grips with those too.

Cambridge Repair Cafe Plus
Image credit: Cambridge Carbon Footprint

There’s a draught proofing and repairs workshop with information on how to make your home cosier and cut your bills plus they’ll give you a free draught proofing pack to take away.  Perfect now that there’s definitely an autumnal nip in the air!

Cambridge Kids' Repair Cafe
Image credit: Cambridge Carbon Footprint

For the younger generation, there’s going to be a Kids’ Repair Cafe on Friday 26 October from 9.30am- 12.30pm.  It’s hosted by the Cambridge Film Festival at Arts Picturehouse and they’ll be screening environmental films including WALL-E through the day.  Children can bring consoles, mechanical toys, gaming devices, electronic toys, teddie and dolls.  As with all repair cafes, kids and their parent or carer stay with the repairers, using the process as a learning experience and helping to work out the best way to repair the broken toy.

I enjoyed meeting Nicole Barton, Volunteer and Events Organiser at Cambridge Carbon Footprint, to find out more about the repair cafes before writing this post.  As she says, we talk about throwing things away but where is “away”?  Nicole’s a woman with a lot of amazing statistics at her fingertips but one in particular blew my mind …..

….. if you repair a 13″ Macbook rather than chuck it out and buy a new one, you save the equivalent of 750kg of carbon

I’ll leave you with that thought!

http://www.cambridgecarbonfootprint.org

http://www.transitioncambridge.org

http://www.circularcambridge.org

St Andrew’s Hall, Chesterton, CB4 1DH

 

 

 

Cambridge Growing Spaces

Growing Spaces is a wonderful project which creates, plants and maintains edible gardens in the city which can be harvested by anybody …. anybody at all and the food is free!

GS veg bed
Image credit:  Growing Spaces

The Growing Spaces team, run by Sandra Cortijo, plants these gardens in unloved and underused public spaces in Cambridge (having first received permission from the landowner!).  There are currently six gardens dotted around the city – you can check out their locations on the website.  “Each garden has its own story,” Sandra tells me.  “They’re generally not high maintenance but they are regularly checked, so they’re kept healthy and tidy.”

 

GS raised beds
Image credit:  Growing Spaces

If a volunteer can commit to giving some extra care during a growing season, the group will plant vegetables such as tomatoes, courgettes and beans.  If not, they’ll plant herbs like rosemary, sage and thyme alongside fruit bushes.

GS herbs
Image credit:  Growing Spaces
GS blackcurrants
Image credit: Growing Spaces

Growing Spaces gardens for and with the community.  Volunteers supply seedlings and nurseries often donate plants while YMCA volunteers build frames for the raised beds.  The team installs, fills and plants these tall raised beds on the same day.  To make sure that their edible gardens thrive, they have perfected the “lasagna method” of filling the beds with layers of cardboard, branches, hay, paper, soil, dried leaves, grass cuttings and mulch.  This creates a nutrient rich permaculture that decomposes over time and needs less watering.  You’ll find full details of this “lasagna method” on the Growing Spaces website under the “Resources” tab.

GS swap and share stall
Image credit: Growing Spaces

The group organises cycle tours of its gardens, so people can see what’s growing and where.  It also has a free gardening club where people of all ages get together to grow their own vegetables and herbs.   The team runs a fresh produce swap and share stall at events like the Pumpkin Festival, giving everybody a chance to share their excess allotment or garden produce or just to come and choose some fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs for free.

 

Growing Spaces is part of Transition Cambridge, an organisation which “aims to help the city make the transition to ways of life that are more resilient in the face of rising energy prices and a changing climate”.  A grant from the Council got the Growing Spaces group started and Sandra got involved in 2013.  Growing up, Sandra had always gardened with her mother and grandparents at home in France but had then stopped.  “I relearned gardening with this group,” Sandra says “and really, no knowledge is necessary.  We try things out and see what works best.”

If you’d like to volunteer to plan and plant with the team or if you know of a space in the city that needs care, just email Sandra through the Growing Spaces website.

http://www.cambridge.growingspaces.org

http://www.transitioncambridge.org