Author Archives: Roger Matthews

Take the Plastic Challenge (and more!)

Transition Stratford’s Plastic Challenge gets under way this weekend Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 July 2013 at the Stratford River Festival.

The Plastic Challenge is simple. Monitor the plastic that comes into your life through shopping over the course of a week – then see whether you can cut out some of that plastic the following week.

This year’s Plastic Challenge Fortnight will run from Monday 8 July to Sunday 21 July (though you can take the Challenge at any time convenient to you). To encourage people to sign up for the Challenge, Transition Stratford is giving away a free shopping bag, hand-made by local volunteers from fabric remnants, to the first 100 to sign up for the Plastic Challenge at the River Festival.

There’ll also be leaflets on ways to reduce and recycle plastic, a game for children, and demonstrations of bag making – you can even have a go at making a bag yourself!

And Transition Stratford will be launching its Crafty Plastic Beasts competition for children. Can they make a – real or imaginary – beast by reusing plastic? Competition entries can be made at home and brought to Transition Stratford’s stall at the Crafty Beasts event which will take place on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 July at Mary Arden’s farm, Wilmcote, near Stratford. Or children can have a go at making a beast there.

There will be prizes for three age groups – under 8, 8-12 and 13-16. Winners will be judged by Vikki Holroyd, Director of WEAVE Recycle, and the prizes will be a year’s free membership of the WEAVE Recycle centre in Leamington Spa.

Plastic Challenge Fortnight announced

Transition Stratford has announced that this year’s Plastic Challenge Fortnight will take place from Monday 8 July to Sunday 21 July.

The Plastic Challenge asks people to monitor the amount of plastic in their shopping over the course of a week – and then to see if they can cut down on plastic during the following week. Though you can take the Plastic Challenge at any time, taking it with others helps spread the word – and the good ideas for living with less plastic.

Transition Stratford ran the Plastic Challenge for the first time last year, when nearly 50 people took part. Now organisers hope more than twice that number will join the Challenge in 2013.

Transition Stratford will be launching the Challenge Fortnight at the Stratford River Festival on Saturday 6 July and Sunday 7 July, when its stall will have information about plastic, games and activities. You can sign up for then Challenge then – or e-mail to join in.

Winter boost for Harvest Share

Our fruit trees may be dormant in the cold weather, but Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share scheme has been active over the winter with planting new trees and pruning older ones.

The planting has taken place in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, where the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has provided a number of young apple trees to fill gaps in the orchard layout. The trees are mostly heritage varieties, including Leathercoat – mentioned by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Harvey – first recorded in 1629 – and Foxwhelp – a cider apple first described by the writer John Evelyn in 1664. The Trust has also planted new trees itself at the orchards at Mary Arden’s Farm.

In addition to planting, Harvest Share volunteers have also pruned nearly 50 trees in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. Harvest Share organiser Roger Matthews said: “It’s been some years since trees in the orchard were regularly pruned, so we’ve only made a start this year. There are another 80 trees, including some of the largest in the orchard, which still need pruning – and some of those trees we’ve pruned this year will need further work next winter.”

Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share scheme, which collects fruit which would otherwise not be harvested and puts it to good use, was the largest scheme of its type in the country over the last two years. Click here for further information – or contact us to get involved.

Winter orchard maintenance at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage

Work for the 2013 fruit harvest will begin early this year, when Harvest Share volunteers start work on winter maintenance in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust property in Shottery.

The orchard is the largest single contributor to Transition Stratford’s Harvest Share scheme, providing nearly half the crop in 2011. But many of the 200 trees in the orchard are in need of pruning – and there are also gaps where new trees can be planted. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has recently purchased a number of traditional fruit varieties for plantings in the orchard at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and in orchards at Mary Arden’s Farm.

The first work session is scheduled to take place on Saturday 12 January, starting at 10.30 am. And there will be further sessions on the mornings of Wednesday 16 January, Saturday 9 February, Wednesday 20 February, Saturday 9 March and Wednesday 20 March.

For more details, contact

Transition Stratford backs community farm

Transition Stratford is backing a new community growing initiative – Five Acre Community Farm, a community supported agriculture (CSA) scheme based at Garden Organic’s site at Ryton, near Coventry.

Five Acre Community Farm aims to produce local and seasonal organic vegetables – and to involve people in the growing. Based on five acres of land at the back of Ryton Gardens, Garden Organic’s headquarters, the CSA is a membership organisation, offering the opportunity to become engaged in growing as well as benefiting from the farm’s round-the-year vegetables!

Transition Stratford’s Facilitator, James Pavitt, said: “Transition Stratford is committed to the principle of local food. We run a Garden Share scheme to help people without gardens get the opportunity to grow their own and Harvest Share, a project to make sure loacl fruit is gathered and put to good uses. Five Acre Community Farm is a great initiative that’s not too far from us, so we are keen to support it!”

For more information about Five Acre Community Farm, see its Facebook pages at!/Five.Acre.Community.Farm.

Transition Stratford boosts Stratford Time Bank

Transition Stratford is giving a boost to the recently established Stratford Time Bank with its Harvest Share scheme joining the Time Bank as an organisational member.

This means that all Time Bank members who help with Harvest Share will be able to credit half that time to their personal Time Bank account – while the remaining half goes into the Time Bank’s community pot

The community pot provides free help to people who need support when they’re not best placed to contribute to the Time Bank themselves. For example, someone just out of hospital after an operation might need a variety of types of help – but they might be unwilling to ask for help through the Time Bank if they feel unable to return help to others. But the community pot will provide them with support until they’ve recovered.

Transition Stratford started initial discussions about setting up a Time Bank in Stratford in the autumn of 2010. The Stratford Time bank has now been set up thanks to support from Stratford Town Trust and from Orbit Heart of England Housing Associatio, which hosts the Time Bank at its offices in Greenhill Street. Transition Stratford is a member of the Time Bank’s steering group.

Harvest Share organiser Roger Matthews said: “As the Time Bank grows, it will provide a valuable resource for Stratford. Transition Stratford is pleased to be able give a boost to the scheme through Harvest Share.”


Hugh Chatwin

We were all saddened to hear of the sudden and unexpected death of Hugh Chatwin on 6th July.

Hugh was one of the founder members of Transition Stratford and a member of Transition Stratford’s Steering Group from its earliest days.

He was always actively interested in new things and new ideas. He was always willing to help with whatever needed doing. He was always kind. He will be greatly missed.

Hugh’s funeral will take place in the Guild Chapel, on the corner of Chapel Lane and Church Street, Stratford upon Avon, on Tuesday 24th July at 2.00 pm.

Artwork to mark end of Stratford’s Plastic Challenge

An artwork made from throw-away plastic will be created in Stratford upon Avon’s Bancroft Gardens this weekend to mark the end of Transition Stratford’s Plastic Challenge. 

The Plastic Challenge, a two week programme through which people try to reduce the day-to-day plastic in their lives, was launched by sustainability group Transition Stratford on Saturday 12 May. In its first week people have collected the plastic coming home in their shopping baskets to see how much they are buying and where it comes from. In the second week, starting Saturday 19 May, people have been seeing what they can do to reduce this plastic.

And the plastic they have collected, together with other donated plastic, will be used to create a temporary artwork on the Bancroft Gardens this Saturday 26 May. Led by Shipston-based artist Matt Geden, the assembly of the artwork will start at 10.00 am and will be on display until the end of the afternoon, when it will dismantled and the plastic sorted for recycling.

In addition to the artwork, Transition Stratford will be running a stall providing information about plastic – where it comes from, how it’s used, and what happens when it’s thrown away – as well as about the Plastic Challenge itself. There will also be an information display about recycling by Stratford-on-Avon District Council, as well as information from Stratford Friends of the Earth and WEAVE, the Leamington-based creative recycling centre.

Plastic Challenge is under way!

Transition Stratford’s Plastic Challenge is under way.

Aimed at helping people to reduce the amount of plastic they buy and throw away, the two week programme runs from Saturday 12 May to Saturday 26 May 2012.

The Challenge starts with a week in which you monitor the amount of plastic coming into your home through your usual shopping. Transition Stratford supporters who’ve already tried this out say it’s amazing how much plastic comes home with your shopping – even when you think you’re being careful not to collect unwanted plastic!

Having monitored a week’s worth of plastic, in the second week we aim to reduce it! How? Well, that’s up to you. What seems the easiest or obvious ways to cut down on the amount of plastic you are buying? Could you increase the amount you recycle? Transition Stratford has published some tips and advice to help – but you may come up with even better ideas.

Want to take part? Then contact us on and we will send you further details.

Hints and tips for the Plastic Challenge

Transition Stratford has published its first selection of tips and hints to help people to take the Plastic Challenge – and cut down the amount of new plastic coming into their life.

The Challenge is simple. In the week beginning Saturday 12 May, we shop as normal – but collect all the plastic we buy. In Week 2, beginning Saturday 19 May, we see if we can cut down the amount of plastic in our lives. To take part, get in touch with us at

The tips and advice aim to help you plan ways to cut down your plastic. But if you have suggestions or ideas of your own and want to share them with others, contact us at, and we will post up new ideas and suggestions.