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 http://www.transitionnetwork.org/

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’.

Personal Carbon Footprint Monitoring


Transition Ashtead is launching a personal carbon footprint monitoring scheme which TA members, colleagues and friends are invited to join.  One’s footprint is a measure of how much CO2 is emitted as a direct result of those activities that are both under one’s own direct control and that can be simply and adequately measured.
These activities are home heating, home electricity use, eating and drinking, and road and air travel.
The idea is of course to help people to reduce their personal climate impact. Measuring the impact makes it much easier to focus one’s efforts on the most effective practicable steps to take.
If you want to join contact Tony Cooper at tonycooper@headweb.co.uk
The scheme comes into effect on January 1st 2012.
The planned rules are in the next post below.

Rules of Transition Ashtead (TA) Personal Carbon Footprint (PCF) Self-Monitoring Scheme


The rules of the Scheme are set out below. They are loosely based on Green Mole Forum scheme rules. If you have any queries about the scheme, please contact Tony Cooper at tonycooper@headweb.co.uk


1.  All TA members may join.  Membership is voluntary, and members may leave the scheme at any time.


2. The scheme includes carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the following sources:

  • Home heating
  • Home electricity
  • Transport by own car or motorbike
    • Air travel
    • Food.

The scheme does not include public transport or use of other products and services as there is no easy way to calculate these contributions.

3. The scheme is based on emissions per adult person, not households.

PCF Calculations

4.  Members will supply the following information to enable their CO2 emissions to be calculated.

  • Number of adults in household.  Use fractions for part occupation eg if an adult is present 6 months of the year, count as 0.5 adults.  Children under 18 count as one third of an adult.
  • Gas and electricity meter readings at 1 Jan 2012 and 2013.
  • No reductions or adjustments are allowed for a renewable or green electricity tariff.  See note 1.
  • Domestic generation of electricity is offset against consumption.
    • Air travel.  To find out emissions from air travel, members need to use the air travel calculator on the Climate Care web site (http://www.climatecare.org/), entering the flight start and end locations.  Business flights are excluded, in line with other business travel..
    • Personal car or motorbike mileage, fuel (diesel or petrol), and average mpg.  This requires members to record the odometer readings at 1 Jan 2012 and 2013, and to calculate their average mpg by recording the quantities of fuel and miles travelled over a few months.
      Alternatively, and more accurately, members may record all their fuel purchases during the year. A year-end adjustment is in theory appropriate but we can manage fine without it.
    • If a car is shared, members need to either record the mileage when they are driving, or simply estimate the fraction of the total miles that are attributable to them (see note 2).  Travel to and from normal place of work is included, but other business mileage, including self-employed person’s business mileage, is excluded.  Alternatively members may record the volumes of fuel bought over the year and allocate it to business and personal use.
    • Ideally all taxi and car-hire use for non-business purposes should be recorded too. You should record the mileage of each journey (The AA website is useful for saying how far it is from A to B), and, if shared-use, the number of people in the vehicle). Great accuracy isn’t necessary, estimating the distance to, say, the nearest 50 miles is adequate. For hired cars you can instead record the fuel volume bought and that gives a better estimate.


5. CO2 emissions are calculated using the following factors as published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/about/ec_social_res/iag_guidance/iag_guidance.aspx


2010 2011 2012
Electricity kg per kWh .473 .471 .451
Gas kg per kWh .18
Petrol kg per litre 2.23 2.21 2.19
Diesel kg per litre  2.53 2.52 2.51


6.  The embodied carbon in food is estimated using the following values.

(See Note 3)

Diet CO2tonnes per person per year
Average UK 2.0
Low meat (see note 4) 1.7
Lacto -vegetarian 1.4
Vegan 1.0

Calculating the Value of Personal Carbon Emissions

9. At the start of 2012, members will report their meter readings and if appropriate odometer readings to the PCF scheme administrator, currently Tony Cooper.

10. At the end of each year, the members will report their consumption figures to the PCF administrator who will calculate and record their CO2 emissions from the data provided.  A small prize will be awarded for the member with the lowest emissions, and, starting in year 2, another for the biggest reduction in emissions.

11. If people want, to maintain interest during the year, they may report quarterly figures. I find that helpful, but it isn’t essential.


1.   No reductions are allowed because unfortunately there is no way of clearly demonstrating the reduction is emissions (if any) that arises from switching to a green tariff.  Despite this we still want to encourage people to select a good green tariff.  The following are recommended by most surveys: Good Energy, Green Energy and Ecotricity. This position should be kept under review if possible.

2.   For example suppose a shared car does 10000 miles per year.  A drives 1000 miles alone, B drives 4000 miles alone, 5000 miles is shared.  Miles attributable to A is 1000 + 5000/2 = 3500.  Miles attributable to B is 4000 + 5000/2 = 6500.

3.   These figures are a rough approximation, provided by the Green Mole Forum. It’s hard to find a reliable and comprehensive source for food emissions, perhaps because it’s a complex issue. There are many plausible sources with partial data and further references. I hope to investigate further but this will take time. Clearly if one changes one’s overall diet category partway through the year, the final figure is an appropriate average.

4.   A low meat diet means at least three meatless days per week.  Fish counts as meat.

Tony Cooper 16th December 2011

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!



Transition Ashtead talks Food Miles!


Transition Ashtead hosted another successful event on Monday – this time at St George’s Parish Room – it raised the issues of Food Miles and Packaging. It started with a role play between Caroline Cardew-Smith, (the organiser of the evening), and Flip Gargill (from Transition Bookham), comparing the origin and packaging of the food in their shopping baskets of “Local” and “Yonder” produce. Angus Pike narrated with some technical information about how much CO2 each produced and how choosing locally produced food can dramatically cut food miles. There were two guest speakers – Graham Love and Tyrone Patterson.

Graham Love runs “Greenways” Fruit Farm in Herstmancoux in East Sussex. He talked about the value of locally grown produce and how moving to buying local produce would help cut carbon emissions. He believes that genetically-modified crops will be crucial in meeting the challenge of feeding the growing world population in the future. He is passionate about the Transition movement and the move to a lower carbon economy – he belongs to the Lewes Transition group. He was also selling his Sussex-grown English cherries – absolutely luscious!

Tyrone Patterson runs “Greenwise” fruit and veg shop in The Street. He explained how he liked to provide local produce when possible but if you are running a business means meeting his customers needs, which includes selling produce from overseas. It’s hard to get locally grown bananas for example! The evening developed into a lively debate, which covered many issues about sustainability and the use of new technology, particularly relating to food production, and the fact that no-one wants to return to the old days of life without modern conveniences. A consensus was reached that using technology responsibly was the way forward. The evening was rounded of by refreshments, thanks to Angus and Maureen.

St Giles school celebrates the opening of their mini-beast garden!



Last summer holidays, on a drizzly day in August, parents at St Giles school, guided by Ceri Morgan, gathered to plant a ‘mini-beast garden’ – a raised bed with plants to attract bees, bugs and butterflies. Transition Ashtead were among other participants who were delighted to help with the planting and supplied some of the plants. The garden is now well established and buzzing with insect life and on Tuesday had its official opening. All the helpers were invited back to see the fruits of their labours. St Giles Head Teacher, Judith Clawley, led the lively proceedings and the children of St Giles cheered to thank everyone involved.

Katie from Ashtead Park Garden Centre cut the Opening Ribbon, which was held by 10 children, representing the parents who had been most involved with the project.

Transition Ashtead would like to congratulate St Giles for encouraging the children to understand the importance of pollinators, which are such a vital link in the natural chain of food production. The school also has two large ‘bug houses’ where insects can over-winter and lay eggs.

Creating areas of biodiversity like the mini-beast garden provides havens in which  pollinators can feed. Is there room in your garden for a ‘mini-beast patch’? Maybe you could leave an area of lawn un-mown or leave a grassy bank to go wild?  Scarce food for pollinators means fewer apples on your trees!

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 http://epsombeekeepers.co.uk

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 info@transitionashtead.org.uk

Bee on clover