Visit to Grundon’s MRF

Visit to the Material Recovery Facility operated by Grundon at Leatherhead

On 21st February 2014, a group of 9 visitors from Transition Ashtead were introduced to and shown around the waste recycling centre at Leatherhead by Paul Faulkner of Grundon Waste Management Ltd (the owner and operator of the plant). In the shift away from landfill to recycling and recovery, this Materials Recovery Facilities is a great local plus point. Originally supported and encouraged by Mole Valley, it now provides services to quite a few other local District Councils. It has a capacity of 80.000 tonnes per year and is currently operating at about 60% of that. It appears that there is quite a seasonal variation in our use of green bins.

We were shown how the plant mechanically separates glass and metals, and the process of sorting plastics and paper by a good size team of pickers (real people not robots). Surprisingly, about half the overall output of the plant, by weight, is still paper, which like the other output streams is put separately through a High Density Baler, making some interesting sized large bricks to load onto the trucks that take them away to the recycling manufacturers (unfortunately not all in this country). Any unseparated residues tend to be shipped off to Grundon’s energy-from-waste plant at Colnbrook. It is clear, the better we sort things into our green bins within the criteria suggested by MVDC, the more successful is the recovery process in the plant – we were told that they do not like wet cardboard or paper (it lowers the recovery rate, gums up the works and lowers the value of the product) and other current no-noes are things with significant food residues in them or that are made of different material laminated together like tetra- paks.

Overall it makes economic sense to maximise the proportion of our waste stream that goes as green bin recoverable waste (within the framework of what the plant can handle) as it costs about 1/5th as much to put material through this plant as to send it to a landfill site (and as separate note, Surrey will soon run out of landfill space).

Later this year, we are planning to organise further visits to the plant so others can see these facilities which are well worth seeing. We will let people know when we have some dates for these.

Barrie Mould

What is Transition?

What is transition about?  Transition Ashtead is a non political group of local people who got together to meet the potential challenges of resource depletion, CO2 emissions,  climate disruption & uncertainty and the many pressures on our environment.

We are united by a belief that together we can make a real difference for the future, that by taking small steps to change our life styles. One of our aims is to raise awareness of the issues so we can all learn about the global problems and what we can do to help locally. The five key areas are:

Energy, Food, Transport, Biodiversity and Waste & Recycling.

The enthusiasm and input from residents, business and local organisations makes a huge difference to what we can achieve.  Please join us and see what we can do if we all work together. The idea is that we ‘transition’ gradually towards making Ashtead a greener and more sustainable village. We can have fun, and strengthen the community on the way!

Transition Ashtead is just one of over 300 groups across the world. For more about the Transition Network

We have regular Open Meetings with films, speakers, and discussions on the 2nd Thursday of the month (except August), 7.30pm at the Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall. See Events for more details and reports of previous meetings.

Information about monthly OPEN MEETINGS at the Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall – click here

Do you want to help shape the future of Ashtead? Click here to visit Ashtead Community Vision

Report – ‘Growing Food Locally’ 8th March 2012

MOVE ALL BELOW THIS TO THE REPORTS OF MEETINGS PAGE, can this be one drop down page per report?

Firstly we showed two short films about ‘food miles’ and ‘waste’. We throw away an incredible THIRD of what we buy, that’s 6.7 million tonnes a year! The top of the list is potatoes 359,000 tonnes, bread 328,000 tonnes and apples 190,000 tonnes. One quarter of what we throw away is still in it’s original packaging. To see the short film we showed:

On ‘food miles’ we found out that apples from the USA travel 3,675 miles, grapes from Chile 7,165 miles and new potatoes from Israel 2,212.

Incidentally potatoes from Israel are grown in the desert from seed potatoes shipped from Scotland, they need constant water which comes from an underground source or the Nile, and fertilisers. They pack the potatoes in peat extracted from bogs in Ireland to be shipped back to the UK, a round trip of 11,500 miles.  Next time you buy potatoes check where they are produced and If you want to know more:

We then showed a film made by Transition Forest Row ‘Growing Food Locally’. Apart from it being wonderfully sunny there,  they are lucky to have a couple of small farms locally, including a dairy herd. They have also established a community owned farm, as well as having a garden share scheme. In 2009 they produced a local food directory. They have tried to estimate how much basic food stuffs the village needed.  They are all very committed to trying to make Forest Row as self reliant as possible in food. If you missed the film:

After the films we discussed what will happen when inevitably the price of oil goes up dramatically increasing prices of food shipped to the UK from around the world.  How could we produce, source and buy more local food? We had various ideas including:

  • Making directory of local foods and producers
  • Starting a community garden for growing friut & veg and as a community centre for socials and education
  • Setting up a food swap system for when we have excess produce
  • Cropping for the local shops to sell
  • Mapping fruit trees across the village

Phew! We have lots of ideas but we could do with more help to get off them off  the ground! If you would like to help with any of these projects, or have some ideas of your own,  please do get in touch with us. Or come along to our next meeting 12th April, 7.30pm at the APMH. We are showing a film made by David Attenborugh ‘ The Truth About Climate Change’.

Open Meetings


Regular Open meetings, 2nd Thursday of every month starting 9th February. 7.30pm – 9pm.  The Marshall Room, Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall.

FREE ENTRY, although donations welcome to cover our costs. We look forward to seeing you, please look at the Events page for details of the topic for each meeting.


Apple Day report


We had a fantastic response to the Apple Day. Within the first hour we had filled one builders bag, and we rushed off to get a second one! By the end of the day we had filled two, our estimate was we had about half a ton. Everyone was amazingly generous donating their extra apples and paying in advance for the bottled juice, this has enabled us to be able to pay for the juicing and bottling of about 300 litres. We also had the demonstration press, kindly loaned by Epsom Apples, which was great fun and showed the process of chopping, crushing and pressing – the resulting juice was yummy. David Gillott, Four Gables Fine Dining, had a delicious selection of their produce and hampers, I was very impressed that as well as keeping ducks and using the eggs, they grow mushrooms here in Ashtead. Thank you to everyone who helped make the day such a great success.

Today I drove the van rather slowly to Ringden Farm in Kent. We chose to take them there as it was closer than Moor Organic Juicers as they do not need a minimum of a ton. Ringden Farm have their own orchards, they say it has been an amazing year for apples and they have never been so busy. The heavy builders bags were forked lifted out of the van and tipped into 2 big wooden crates. The juice will be ready to collect  and buy (£2.50/Ltr) in about 4 weeks. I am really looking forward to sampling our juice, and having such a local produce to give away as presents. Ringden Farm also make cider, so next year we could have Ashtead Apple Cider!



Ashtead Village Day 2011




We had a very successful day on Saturday, we were blessed with a georgous sunny day!

The bike powered smoothie maker was very popular. We were demonstrating just how much energy is required to power a blender and how much we take for granted being able to flick a switch. The strawberry smoothies were delicious, even Chris Grayling got on the bike to have a go!

Jane brought along her four chickens, and talked to lots of people who are keen to keep them. We were selling local Ashtead honey, and anwered questions about why our local bee keepers need more suitable gardens for  ‘beehive hosting’   The low energy light bulb library was on show, which we loan out so you can try out all the various different types of bulbs in your fittings at home.

We had a display about the ‘Village Vegetables’ which have now expanded to include the long bed along the front of the Tesco’s site. There are already some ripe strawberries in some of the planters, if they haven’t been picked already get up to The Street quickly as its first come first served! Don’t forget to wash anything you pick before eating. We don’t use any chemicals but it is a main road.

We have been asked to plant up the four planters in Craddocks Parade, so keep an eye out for more ‘Village Veg’!

Vegetables replace flowers in Ashtead planters!

Planting the 'Village Vegetables' on Derby Day

Caroline Cardew-Smith and Chris Ellis, leading members of Transition Ashtead, were so inspired by the ‘Incredible Edible’ project in Todmorton, that they decided they wanted to do the same for Ashtead’s community and plant ‘Village Vegetables’. They approached the MVDC and the Ashtead Street Traders association with their idea of planting vegetables instead of the usual bedding flowers in the raised planters in The Street. Both were keen to support the project, especially as Transition Ashtead provided all the plants for free, most of which they had grown from seed.

On Derby day instead of going to the races, volunteers armed with trowels, forks and watering cans planted out the vegetables, herbs and edible flowers. They included runner beans, tomatoes, sweetcorn, strawberries, leeks and a variety of herbs and companion flowers to provide colour and attract the bees and pollinating insects.

The idea is that when it’s ready to pick, residents can help themselves to the produce. On a lunch break? Just pop out and get a couple of fresh tomatoes to go with your sandwich; coming home late and shops closed? Pick a handful of runners and a few herbs to have with supper!

Transition Ashtead are hoping to inspire us to think about our food buying choices, particularly for fresh food. The ‘Where, When and How’ is it grown? To consider the real environmental costs of production, packaging and transport, and the importance of ‘growing your own’, and buying seasonal produce grown as locally as possible. With a little bit of imagination, some hard work and commitment, they hope to show we can change where we get our fresh food from, provide local jobs, help save energy and preserve the environment.

Transition Ashtead is very grateful for the practical help of the traders, particularly Emma at Sweet Lavender Flowers, The Brewery Pub and The Ashtead Village Club, who made the project possible by generously allowing the Team to fill their watering cans.

Lots of watering

I forgot my gloves!

Armed with marigolds...

The Plight of the Honey Bee

 On 9th May Transition Ashtead had a very buzzy evening at the Ashtead Village Club. Andrew Barnett and Liz Knee from the Epsom Bee Keeping Association explained all about the fascinating life of honey bees and the hive. We also learnt about honey bee research that is being done at the moment funded by DEFRA and other organisations, and how important they are to the economy as well as to the environment.

Andrew bought along a ‘frame’ from one of his hives it was fascinating to see the amazing wax comb the bees make, it was full of honey and smelt delicious, but we had to resist tasting and making a sticky mess!  He also bought his most useful new bit of safety kit – a small metal dustbin with a lid to keep his ‘smoker’ in when he has it in the car, in fact it was still smouldering so his point was well made!  The reason for useing a smoker is that the bees think the hive is on fire and fill themselves with honey making them rather heavy and sleepy rather than stinging the bee keeper.

Andrew keeps a hive in my front garden here in Ashtead. Because April has been so warm and dry, he has already taken over 60 lbs of honey, a month earlier than usual. He has never had such a productive hive in all his many years of bee keeping.  A common question is ‘How many bees are in the hive?’.  The answer is up to 60,000 in the height of summer, and the follow up question is  ‘What’s it like having that many in the garden?’. In fact we get very few because, unlike solitary bees which flit from flower to flower, honey bees feed on massed planting. They travel up to three miles to find their food. Trees are particularly important – apple blossom, horse chestnut, lime trees, fields of rape flowers, lavender hedges, ivy and so on throughout the year.

Andrew, who keeps bees in a variety of sites, says that his Ashtead hives always do better than sites in the countryside, possibly because there are plenty of trees and a good variety of massed plants.  Honey bees have declined by about 50% in the last twenty years. Sites for “hive hosting” are always needed by bee keepers – all you do is provide a space in your garden and in return get a supply of yummy very local honey!

If you would like to find out more information about having a hive in your garden, please contact the Epsom Beekeepers Association

If you would like to visit our garden, see the  the hive in action and find out more about ‘hosting a hive’ from the garden owners point of view please contact me at

Bee on clover

Talk about Honey Bees

 Transition Ashtead’s next Open Meeting is a talk by a local bee keeper. Andrew Barnett will come and share his passion for honey bees, explain all about keeping bees, and their importance for pollination and the environment. Andrew has been keeping bees for over 8 years and is a member of the Epsom Bee Keepers Association. He has lots of stories to tell, many very funny, about his experience as a bee keeper.

I will be there to answer any questions you may have about being a ‘bee host, as we have had one of Andrew’s bee hives in our garden for the last two years. There will also be local ‘Barnett Wood Lane’ Honey for sale!

The Ashtead Village Club in the Street (opposite the bus stop) have kindly given us the upstairs area for our meeting, please get yourself a drink at the bar downstairs and join us at 8pm on Monday 9th May.

Surrey Green Homes Open Days 26-27 March 2011

On Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th March, 28 homeowners throughout Surrey, including 4 in Ashtead, will open their doors to the public to share their knowledge and experience about making their own homes more energy efficient and ecologically sustainable.

On show will be solar heating and hot water systems, secondary glazing, wood burners and many other energy saving ideas. Homeowners will be able to report on how these changes have affected their fuel bills, and the comfort of their homes. Colin Butfield, Head of Campaigns at the global environment charity WWF said “WWF is pleased to see so many green homes opening their doors to inspire others”. This event has been organised by Action Surrey in partnership with local environmental volunteer groups across the County. 

To find out more and to book free tickets please visit: