Tag Archives: food

We Just Can’t Contain Ourselves: Container planting project coming alive at the community gardens

Gardening in Containers: A Quick Guide

It is widely agreed that gardening brings many benefits, both physical and emotional. One simple but highly effective way in which more people can get these benefits is by growing plants in containers. As part of their container planting project, SAUWS Environment have available a number of windowsill troughs. They are available free of charge to interested staff and students- so why not consider applying for one (details below). All you need to do is come along to one of our sessions in the community garden on your campus, make up your container with our help and take it away, for FREE!

garden container

There are many reasons why you might want to consider starting a container garden. For example, it enables:

  • Plants to be brought indoors- such as workplaces and residencies.
  • People who do not have a garden to enjoy gardening.
  • People with restricted mobility to participate in gardening.
  • People who are housebound (through mental or physical ill health) can benefit from looking at and tending to plants.

You can grow a range of plants in containers- including vegetables for use the kitchen. Many types of containers can be used to grow plants in. Containers can be placed anywhere- but will thrive on bright, warm window ledges.

Here are some tips to help you get started with a container garden:

  • Choose a roomy container.
  • Don’t use containers made from treated wood.
  • Make sure the container has drainage holes in it.
  • Be careful with watering. Make sure water reaches all of the soil in the container (allow the water to run through the container and out of the drainage holes at the bottom).
  • Keep an eye on the water content of the soil in the container and don’t let them get too much rain. Top Tip: soil should be moist (test this using your finger).
  • Cover containers (and the plants) in the winter months.
  • Add your preferred fertiliser to the soil. Follow with more liquid fertiliser as growing continues.
  • Make sure tall plants are well supported in the pot.
  • Carry out planting at the same time you would for plants growing in the ground.
  • Remember to weed the plants as required- and look out for insects or other types of pests.

For information on the best types of plants (including vegetables) to grow in containers:

You can find general information on growing plants in containers at:

If you would like to find out more about obtaining a free window-still trough, contact Natalie.McCall@SAUWS.org.uk with the heading CONTAINER PROJECT

Garden sessions run:

Sessions will run:

Hamilton Campus – Tues 12-3pm

Ayr Campus – Thurs 11-4pm

Paisley Campus – Wed & Fri 12-2


Pancake Day: How do you like yours? Check out our flipping great toppings for a sustainable pancake!

Hot, cold, sweet or savoury, there is no doubt that pancakes are a favourite among most of us. While this may be a weekend treat for some on a regular basis, Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday can always be a great excuse to get the eggs and flour out, put them in a bowl and get mixing for a week day treat. Creating the mixture is often the easy bit, deciding on what exciting topping to have can often be a testing task. Within this addition to the SAUWS Environment blog, we will bring you a basic pancake recipe mix and a selection of delicious topping ideas with a sustainable slant.

We promise it will be flipping good. (Pardon the pun)


Firstly the pancake ingredients:

110g plain flour

Pinch of salt

2 eggs

275ml milk

50g butter

This is easy; sift the flour into the bowl. Make yourself a hole in the middle of the flour and crack the two eggs into it. At this stage whisk the mixture, making sure all flour from around the bowl is captured into the mix. Gradually add the milk to the mixture bit by bit while continuing to mix. After a short period of time you should have yourself a smooth batter mix.

Now heat up your frying pan and turn down to medium, add the butter and melt. At this stage you are ready to add the batter mix. Two tablespoons usually is about enough per pancake. Cooking should only take between 30 seconds and a minute per side, you should be able to lift one edge to check, if it’s good to go, flip it. Continue this process until all your mixture is gone.

All you need to decide now is what topping you want for these delicious delights, we have a few sustainable ideas right here!

syrup butter


The original and best, especially when combined with some butter, American style!


Fairtrade Chocolate

With Fairtrade fortnight falling between the end of February and beginning of March why not treat yourself to some Fairtrade chocolate. This can be broken up, grated or melted together with some butter to make an amazing chocolate mud mix.

ice cream

Ben and Jerrys or any other Fairtrade Ice Creams

Many ice cream manufacturers are setting up Fairtrade links these days. Support this if you can. Also have a look for some local ice cream producers, support the local businesses. Ice cream is an amazing accompaniment for pancakes; even add the chocolate we have already spoken about for an extra treat.


Locally sourced apples

Know a friend with an apple tree? Look for some locally sourced apples; it doesn’t matter if they are a little bitter. Peel them, slice them and add them to a frying pan with some butter and sugar, fry until lovely, soft and sweet. Add these to the pancakes and for that extra bit of luxury, pour over a little cream. Mmmm!


Fairtrade Bananas

We are back in Fairtrade territory here, these make a classic pancake topping, especially when accompanied with that chocolate mentioned above. With or without, the chocolate this is a great healthy option.


Winter Berries

February is still winter time after all. Why not bring some seasonal fruits into the mix. There is a great selection of berries in season at this time of year, if they are a little tart try adding some sugar or even icing sugar for a great topping.


Locally sourced bacon

Pancakes do not always need to be a sweet treat; in fact I personally love bacon with pancakes. Try to look for some lovely locally sourced bacon. This can either be fried, or for a healthier option grill the bacon. If you wanted to be a little more adventurous, try adding some sweet maple syrup.


Locally farmed happy eggs

That’s right; we have admitted that pancakes make a great savoury snack. Eggs make a great topping to accompany pancakes. These can be fried, scrambled or poached. Why not add that local bacon also for a breakfast pancake!!


Locally produced cheddar

Is there much cheese produced in your area? There is some fantastic cheese produced here in Scotland. This makes for a great topping, especially when melted. Again we can involve the bacon and even the eggs too for a real luxury savoury pancake.

I hope our pancake post has tickled your taste buds and got you in the mood for this Shrove Tuesday. It is important to think a little about sourcing our produce locally. This supports local businesses as well as reducing our own carbon footprint. For products such as chocolate and bananas always look for the Fairtrade logo, this helps to support our farmer friends in far off lands, providing them with a fairer return for all their hard work.
Whatever your choice of pancake topping this Pancake Day, we here at SAUWS Environment hope you enjoy it.

Five Great Ideas for World Food Day!

Five Great Ideas for World Food Day!


With World Food Day getting close, here at the SAUWS Environment Project we have been thinking about some great ways to celebrate such an important date, which this year revolves around family farmers and their role in eradicating poverty and hunger, and we have come up with five easy ways to do it.


But, you may wonder, what exactly is World Food Day? WFD is an annual international event held on 16th October by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) since 1981 which seeks to raise awareness about food-related issues.

Family farming is a cornerstone of many people’s livelihoods. In the UK we are used to going to a supermarket and buying everything we want, but for many people what they grow in their backyards is their main (and sometimes only) form of sustenance. A small farmer that can successfully feed his family will provide food security and nutrition and improve their livelihoods. Also, this kind of farming is usually the most sustainable: those who best know the land are the ones who work it, using local varieties beneficial to the environment.



So, how can we celebrate WFD and keep with its theme?

  1. Celebrate a dinner party with traditional British autumn recipes

Buying produce off-season is a no-no in a foodie’s book for a thousand reasons! An off-season vegetable won’t be as fresh nor will it taste as good as an on-season one: think strawberries in December. Off-season produce will likely be more expensive, too, since it has to be imported from areas where it is actually on-season, which in turn increases its carbon footprint. Also, since it has to get to you in good condition, it will be picked when it is still unripe, and this will affect the flavour. The BBC has rounded up 20 Autumn Recipes which can be made with locally-grown, seasonal vegetables. Our favourites? Cheesy autumn mushrooms, butternut squash soup with chilli and crème fraiche, and apple and blackberry crumble. Move over Come Dine With Me!



2.Spend the Day in a Farm

Growing up in the city, one of my parents’ concerns was that I would think beef grew up in trees and hens laid oranges, so they took me out on day trips and sent me away to summer school in farms, hoping I would understand where my food came from. Unfortunately for them I was too interested in my Walkman but, I think something still registered. Today, you can do the same with your children, or your friends, or your dog. Pickyourownfarms.org.uk/scotland_pyo.php has an extensive list of farms across the country all too happy to open their doors for you so you can pick fruit off the tree or the shrubs. Although the website doesn’t seem to be updated often, most of the farms are still open, such as the East Yonderton one near Glasgow. Just make sure your children know beforehand they are picking blackberries of the fruit persuasion, to avoid any disappointment.





  1. Make preserves

One of my nicest childhood memories was when strawberries were back in season and my mum would make strawberry marmalade. The whole house smelled to die for and the marmalade was the best I have ever had. Once my mum made too much in one batch and we had to eat marmalade every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a month. It was the happiest time of my eight-year old life. I am not sure she shared the feeling because she hasn’t made any more since. Anyway.Making marmalade, jams or preserves can look a bit daunting, but it is actually easy as (apple) pie (sorry). One of the great wonders of living in the age of the Internet is not only being able to watch cat videos on a loop, but also finding recipes for any level of ability. My culinary feats are off-the-charts these days thanks to Saint Pinterest, Saint Youtube, and Saint Google. I have picked this blackberry jam recipe from BBC’s Good Food. Since blackberries are on season now, you can buy huge quantities of them for a small price. Or you can go to a farm (see suggestion number 2!), pick your own blackberries, and then make jam!




  1. Educate yourself

Food-related issues are aplenty: many people live in food deserts (an area where affordable and nutritious food is scarce, in favour especially if you don’t havea car), local food varieties disappear, and food prices sky-rocket when a certain product becomes “trendy” (only in 2013, the price of quinoa increased 86% in Peru, which made it unavailable to the very farmers who grow it and use it as the base of their diet). It is important that we make informed choices as consumers and we know how our dietary habits impact the livelihoods of people around the world. The FAO has plenty of resources on their website – leaflets, videos, and presentations. Read them then talk about it to those around you – people are more likely to listen to their peers and believe them.

(Photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/faonews/12927340973/in/photostream/)

5.Visit a farmers’ market

When farmers sell their produce to big supermarket, a big chunk of the final price the consumer pays actually never reaches the producer. Farmers get a low price for their produce and you pay a high mark-up. Most supermarkets do not sell locally-grown fruit and vegetable either, which increases our food’s footprint. Luckily, the Scottish Association of Farmers’ Markets has a fantastic calendar of markets, Scotland-wide, that list future events. Here, we can buy products directly from the farmers, and although the prices may be higher, the quality is also much better and there is great variety. Farmers’ markets not only sell produce, but also flowers, honey, jams, preserves, and pies.


Spending your money at a farmers’ market help small, local businesses and creates a sense of community. It is also a fantastic opportunity to go sightseeing and get to know towns near us we may otherwise never set foot on.

So, these are our five ideas. What other activities can you come up with? Leave us a comment and let us know!