Two years ago when the Blue Belles came to be, we were absolutely astonished to learn that we had our own college, Denman. Eager to educate ourselves and with the wealth of FABULOUS courses available, we planted an idea that blossomed into something that is both empowering and keeps us well fed – the Dig for Denman campaign. We would grow crops to sell at our general meetings – and ALL proceeds would become a Denman bursary.
We set about having our very own allotment (and only waited a total of two weeks for one to become available locally, when the usual waiting time in Cambridgeshire is years!), got together the growing experience of our families and friends (with a comprehensive seed spreadsheet compliments of our very own Secretary, Laura P), and got growing! We managed to adopt a shed from the Freecycle network, too! Our first year saw us yield sweet peas, rhubarb, parsnips, broad & runners, leeks, courgettes and above all, hours of time spent together in the sunshine digging for a great cause. We were also gifted a grant from NFWI that helped us to be compost, water butts and many a great gardening tool.
The best bit in all of this?! We’ve now raised enough funds for one of our Belles to go off to Denman on a weekend residential course and hope to up our game this year by being able to provide two bursaries!
WI Life have recently featured our story amongst their pages – and we are absolutely THRILLED with the feedback we’ve had from other WIs – and hopes to inspire, too! Scroll through to previous posts here on the blog to get the full story!
We are absolutely overjoyed to be featured in the latest edition of WI Life!
We were thrilled to host WI Life on our Dig for Denman plot to highlight the FANTASTIC efforts of our group to work together to grow and sell our own veggies – with all proceeds going to a Denman bursary to send a Blue Belle to our favourite college.
The plot also has a VERY special place in our hearts as Lady Gertrude Denman was also the Director of the Women’s Land Army during the second world war – all whilst being Chairman of NFWI – talk about a force to be reckoned with! Our tribute to all of Lady Denman’s hard work and tireless commitment to her passion for educating women lives on – with every broad bean and parsnip!
Belles’ July meeting saw the coming together of all of the best bits and bobs the WI has to offer – stories from Denman college, fresh veg and jam from our Dig for Denman allotment and the stories and laughs galore compliments of an inspiring woman – the army’s first female bomb disposal officer.
To start, Butterfly Crafts founder and Blue Belle, Victoria, let us all in on her four day Denman experience of patchwork quilt making for beginners. Relayed back to us with all the passion possible, Victoria described her time at Denman as one she would love to repeat again very soon with top notch tutors, round the clock support no matter what challenges were presented and most of all, a fantastic sense of the joy and fun involved in being in the WI! Denman, you’ll certainly be seeing this Belle again!
Speaking of all things Denman, July’s cropping season has kicked off big time on the Belles’ Dig for Denman allotment and this meeting saw the sale of our very own garlic, onions, spuds a plenty (a pound a bag – bargain!), basil, spider plants AND our very first jam!
Using the finest of ingredients grown by the Belles, the jars of strawberry, raspberry, rhubarb and apple jam were topped with a beautiful signature Belles hat, stamped with our lovely logo and sold out within minutes! The added bonus is that with every bite the Belles get closer to funding a Denman bursary for a fellow member – so its a win win across the (veggie/fruit) patch!
Our crafter in resident, Holly, who also sits on craft Committees at both Federation and National level, brought her lovely wares to sell at the meeting and told us what a day in the life is like to be so active ‘behind the scenes’ at the WI.
After a refreshment consisting of homemade cake and raffle tickets a plenty (check out the photo of our raffle prizes – including earrings made by uber talented Seven Hills WI member, Laura B and the biggest potato of the bunch from the allotment!), the Belles took audience with Lucy Lewis, the Army’s first female bomb disposal officer.
No one could have prepared us for the hilarity that Lucy was to dish out in her relentlessly humours stories about life amongst hundreds of the opposite gender and what it is like to try to diffuse a bomb – to then realise it was actually planted by a cow following excessive grass eating – rather than a commander somewhere in the tall grass!
Lucy’s candid and open account of what it is really like to be a girl in a ‘boy’s world’ was also sobering to hear and lead most to believe that the armed forces have certainly stepped in the right direction, thanks to people like Lucy, but their journey forward continues!
Next month we’re picnicking on nearby Jesus Green with a fab funky Cambridge themed photo quiz! Bring on the group couscous!