Now seems like a good idea to revive The Hive, a blog series I started last year to counter the relentless negative news with positive stories and to demonstrate that those of us who care about the environment and other people are not alone. In fact, there are legions of people around the world who are actively making a difference, and who share a positive vision of how the future could look. With self-isolation and social-distancing in full swing due to the Corvid-19 pandemic, I am including recipes and ideas to get us through any disruption to the food supply, as well as things we can do to help. Please add your suggestions in the comments!
The first weeks of spring, and Easter in particular, are key dates for gardeners, and for gardening businesses. As we can’t shop in person, there’s a special Twitter event for independent nurseries and their customers THIS EVENING:
As the RHS has had to cancel all their shows, they’re working on putting together a virtual Chelsea Flower Show, and they’d like your input:
We don’t all need to be stuck inside all the time. If you’re not self-isolating then you can get outside and enjoy the natural environment, maintaining a safe distance from any other visitors. Check your local parks and gardens, and nature reserves, for their current status.
Although museums are closed, many of them are sharing interesting things from their collections online, so check out their social media feeds. And there are some lovely nature stories to soothe your soul when you’re indoors. I like rare Andean bears flocking to avocado forests, the meat-eating duck in Antarctica who situation is improving now that we’ve cleared its island of rats (which we accidentally introduced), and the volunteer army in New Zealand who ferried endangered seabird chicks to safety after they crash-landed in foggy conditions.
The Guardian reported on a surge of global kindness, while the BBC tells us about the new Canadian trend: caremongering. The environment is getting a break as the global shutdown brings cleaner air, and there’s good news for black rhinos.
People are using resilient plants, fungi and bacteria to clean up pits of waste crude oil in the Amazon rainforest, and Ethiopia’s ‘sacred forests’ have been rediscovered from clues in WWII aerial photos and declassified Cold War-era spy satellite images.
Recent storms have caused the remains of an ancient Welsh kingdom to emerge from the waves, and scientists have found a 67 million-year-old fossil of what could be the oldest known bird. They’ve dubbed it the “Wonderchicken” for its resemblance to modern fowl.
And who wouldn’t want to take a peek at the Japanese village that gives us a glimpse into a carbon-neutral future?
For the moment, food shopping is a bit more complicated than normal. There are more people needing their food delivered, and a surge in demand for groceries as people eat more meals at home than they would have previously. Food suppliers are working hard to increase supply and get food to the people who need it, but their job is being complicated by an army of people panic-buying and clearing shelves as soon as they’re stocked. For a little while, we may struggle to find products we would normally buy, but hopefully that will calm down soon.
In the meantime, Treehugger has a good post on the pandemic pantry, which has lots of ideas and recipes for “making good food from humble ingredients”, as well as 20 things to do with chickpeas. If you’re opening a can of chickpeas, don’t throw the water away – it’s aquafaba, and it makes a great vegan egg replacer for baking.
The 1940s Experiment has selected 7 ration book recipes to beat panic buying, and if you’re struggling to get hold of bread/bread flour then you could try soda bread, beer bread (the beer is not essential!) and some classic British tea time treats. Oh, and I found a recipe for making a mini loaf in a mug in the microwave. Personally, I find that a spot of baking takes my mind off things for a while, and then you get to eat the results! Ryan certainly wasn’t complaining when I turned his ageing muesli into breakfast flapjacks on Saturday morning.
I am sure I don’t need to remind you that (at least here in the UK), it’s spring and a good time for sowing vegetables, some of which will provide you with harvests in a few short weeks, and microgreens and sprouts can be ready even quicker. There’s also free veg springing up everywhere, and most people can safely identify dandelions and nettles.
What can I do?
If you’re asking yourself this question, then there are plenty of ways to help. If you’re healthy and have free time, then there are local organisations all over the country looking for volunteers to help deliver essential supplies and moral support to vulnerable people in our communities. If you have spare cash then you can donate to food banks, or to schemes to distribute food parcels, or that will feed children who will really miss their free school dinners.
If you live near a hospital and have a spare parking space, you can donate it to NHS staff and patients. Hospital parking is always tricky, but right now it’s a nightmare.
And PLEASE, don’t share images of empty shelves – those pictures are fuelling panic buying, which is making it harder for people who need food to get supplies.
I am planning to put together another batch of nature’s wonders, good news and uplifting images next week. In the meantime, feel free to add your own in the comments section, or share stories with me on Twitter. Stay well everybody!