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The Sortino Honey Festival starts on the 23rd of September, a three day fiesta dedicated to this most cherished product of the region: Hyblean Honey. A definite reason to visit one of Sortino’s most reknowned bee farmers.The honeys of the Sortino region are famous for their delicate aromatic mixture of sweetness and character. The honey making culture here is one of the oldest in the world. Hyblean Honey is only produced within a small region of Sicily and the towns of Sortino, Ragusa and Ferla belong to the heart of it.

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Gianfranco Pagliaro is a beekeeper in the 4th generation already. There are 4-5 professional apiculturists made their home in the region and there are many more that produce on a smaller and more private scale.
Signore Pagliaro owns about 400-500 hives that are located in different parts of the country. Asked about the amount of honey that gets produced in a year, he says that this can be very different, depending on the weather and the flowering seasons of plants. Our aim that day was twofold: a) recording the sound of bees in their box b) capturing a true Sicilian song. Together with the musician Sebastiano, Gianfranco and me set our to visit his farm that is located some kilometres outside of town.

The wide room inside the farm hosts three big steel containers, a work table, staples of new as well as used bee homes; a side room serves as an office. The containers currently hold three kinds of honey: Thyme, Millefiori and Eucalyptus.

bee hive

To keep the bees from stinging while putting the microphones into the bee box Gianfranco brings up a traditional “smoke machine” with an attached bellow:

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While the recording is made, Signore Pagliaro comes forth with his truest treasure: a spirit made from honey. Each beekeeper of the region does his/her own version of this but all of them keep the recipe secret, it is only delivered from father to son.

the spirit of honey 1

the spirit of honey 2

In order to describe its taste one would have to write a poem… enough said!

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In his office Gianfranco shows us the picture of his grandfather fabricating one of the boxes then used as beehives by hand. One of these still sits on top of his shelf.

Signore Pagliano's grandfather

Of course we have a degustation. While Millefiori (onethousand flowers) is the offinical “wildflower honey” of Siciliy and probably the one best known in the world, Signore Pagliari also produces thyme honey and the eucalyptus and orange blosssom kinds. Thyme is the sublest in taste while  eucalyptus is the darkest, in mood as well as in colour. There was no orange blossom honey this year, alas: It has been unusual and the reason for it is unknown yet, but the flowering of the orange trees this year was very poor and so: No orange blossom honey in 2016!

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After tasting the honey and some more shots of the miraculous honey spirit we came to the musical part.

Sebastiano's guitar
All recordings can be accessed on this blog, not now though, but in a later update :)

 

 

 

 

 

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The garden of the Cappuccine convent in Sortino lies deserted, enclosed by high walls, and less than 2% of the inhabitants have ever set a foot into it. Padre Matteo opened  its doors for us. A former orchard and herb garden that hasn’t been tended for years. It is overgrown with Iopomea, oranges lie in the grasses, giant fennel (Ferla) stalks stand briskly in your way. There are olive, almond and lemon trees. Crumbling stone steps lead up to the high cedars that flank the North side of the enclosure. To the South we can see the lands of prehistoric Pantalicca and the valley of the invisible river – “Anapo” means invisible and it is called like that because this river disappears three times in the ground and resurfaces again.

 

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Columbia Road Flowermarket

Columbia Road’s flower market explodes into whirls of colours… mixed with voices and plastic bags, hats, hands and hair-dos.

Here come some views:

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rootsandshoots_sign

London in August, a vist at Roots and Shoots, located since 32 years in the council on Lambeth. Founder Linda Phillips leads me on winding paths through a wonderous maze of plots, meadows and espaliers. This biotope unfolds on just an acre of formerly contaminated industrial grounds in the mid of London. The garden started out as a community project and is now supported, next to private donors, by charitiy organisations and the council of London. Roots and Shoots offers educational training to disadvantaged youths, works with school classes and kindergardens and collaborates with international environmental organisations. It encourages neighborhood activities and is strenguously committed to green the world and our thinking.

Datscha Radio wasn’t lazy in other ways as well and therefore forthcoming on this blog:

– Audiowalk Roots & Shoots including a visit in the dragon’s den  + picture gallery
– Audiowalk Flowermarket Columbia Road + picture gallery
– Talk Wild Flower Garden + picture gallery
– Views of Chelsea Physics Gardens

Webseite: Roots and Shoots

Photos: Garden gate, view garden, sleeping young fox at pond, guava in “Paradise Corner” (in memoriam William Blake)

View Roots&Shoots: gate to the garden  View Roots&Shoots: flowers View Roots&Shoots: sleeping fox  View Roots&Shoots: paradise corner

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Young ZilpZalp

A young chiffchaff fell from its nest and will soon return to his temporary cardboard box home: A visit to the National Ornithological Station,  Hessia,  Enkheim, Frankfort.

In a very interesting talk the director of the station, Dr. Martin Hormann, told interesting stories about the wood pidgeon’s “slovenly built nests”, the polygamous habits of the wren and the jay bird’s relevance for the endurance of oak forests. One of my favourites though was the shitty tactics of male fieldfares  in combat with magpies: A true alternative to consider now as the cherries are ripening.

1. wacholderdrossel_cut2.mp3     

Moreover, some views of bird homes adapted to the needs of different kinds of birds in size and nesting habits. Details on this will possibly follow when I find the time…

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“Hejo, spann den Wagen an”, a very traditional canon in German language. Sung at the table on occasion of Mme Stoering’s “Salon”. Topic of the evening war “music”.

1. Spann_den_Wagen_an.mp3     

If you want to sing along, this is the German text:

Hejo, spann den Wagen an,
Sieh, der Wind treibt Regen übers Land
Hol die goldnen Garben,
Hol die goldnen Garben.

translates into:

Heigh ho! Hitch up the cart,
See, the wind drives rain across the land.
Fetch the golden sheaves,
Fetch the golden sheaves.

The English traditional is much less garden orientated:

Heigh-ho! Anybody home.
Food and drink and money have I none.
Still I will be merry, still I will be merry.

And then there is still a strange Low-German-English(?) dialect version:

Hey-o spun den wagon uns,
Set der ven tribt regen ubers lands,
Olde folin gabin,
Olde folin gabin.

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Gaerten von Gestern

The Gardens of Yesterday. 54 min. Language: German. A dystopic fairytale on the future of gardening…. after the LSD riots of 2090. By Gabi Schaffner. More information: HR2 Info.

The sound material stems from field recordings made during the project “Compost and Poesis. 100 Days of Datscharadio” in Giessen, Hessia, 2014. Datscharadio expresses once again its greatest thanks to  Ingke Günther and Jörg Wagner of “gärtnerpflichten Giessen”, Herrn Holzapfel (Office of Hessian literature) and all participating guests and artists.

“Gärten von Gestern” was prompted by Pit Schultz. For their  untiring encouragement,  use of work space and important help I would  like to thank  Mathias Deutsch, Nathalie Grenzhaueser and Dirk Hülstrunk. Special cheers to Mathias Scheliga for all those test readings and to all other friends who supported me through their talks, councel, literature and their voices!

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Knight of the Golden Globes

Australian Beauties reconnects to the work of German botanists travelling Australia since the 50s of the 19th century. Namely the work of Ferninand von Müller was vital for the botanic culture of Australia: Not only did he discover a great number of plants and became the renowned director of the Melborne Botanic Gardens in 1857. Even before that he started on the most extensive collection of pressed plants in Australia for a herbarium that still forms the core of the present “plant library” of the Botanic Gardens.
Australian Beauties is a “roadside herbarium” currently featuring 23 pressed plants from Australia, provided with reinvented names, but real situational descriptions and observations on the nature of the specific plant. The work draws on the spirit of discovery which forms such a great part of Western culture – and defies it at the same time in counteracting the “laws” of taxonomy, scientific soberness and order. The grit of the road still sticks to the pressed specimens. Some look ravished, some are just blossoms without stems or leaves, others have faded, unrecognizable colours… with the discoverer occasionally failing to remember the exact location (a gravelled parking lot on the A3, Tasmania). Australian Beauties hovers on the brink between the factual and the imaginary and between irony and wonder. The images are commented in text in English and German and will form a printed publication presented probably in 2017.

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Occasionally, one picks flowers by the wayside… If you do this on a faraway continent like Australia, the outcome is somewhat surprising. I’ll leave the “real” names of those plants to the botanists, this is a more of a roadside diary…

This one is the first, 22 will follow.

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lerner_porticulture

Travelling with plants: The Australian radio and sound artist Sophea Lerner travels with a suitcase fitted for the transport of garden plants.

A moveable feast, Porticulture grows where you go. A nomadic community garden for a nomadic community. By packing a garden into a suitcase I hoped to unpack some of the tensions between living a very mobile life and the necessity of grounding in place a garden usually requires.
Porticulture mobile garden was planted during Time Place Space Nomad residency New South Wales, Australia, 2014.

https://sophea.phonebox.org/

Sophea Lerner is an Australian sonic media artist/researcher & broadcaster. She combines personal, mechanical, edible, spatial, digital and telephonic networks into dynamic, flexible & open architectures exploring sound in public space & shared listening.

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