Wednesday, 31 July 2013


How many teenagers would give up their free time to volunteer in the pouring rain? Move a tonne of wood up our steep slope for our shed rebuild? Saw up wood and pot up basil plants? Help us prepare curry for lunch? (one of them even washed up one handed despite injuring his hand!).
10 youngsters came to do a days work as part of the Sussex YMCA National Citizenship Scheme for 16 to 17 year old's to learn new outdoor skills, make new friends and help out their communities.
And what a fantastic crew who got stuck in without complaining despite the torrential rain.
If they knock at your workplace asking for a job or apprenticeship give them a chance!
And if any of them fancy getting some experience to put on your CV they know where the allotment gate is. Cheers!

Archie, Sam, Ross, Chris, April, Becka, Jordan, Liam and Toni (not in that order!)

Sunday, 14 July 2013


Our open days are a bit different. Sure we want lots of people to come and see what we are up, but more importantly it’s a chance for the pupils we work with to really get involved and cement the feeling of being part of the team. That sense of belonging and ownership is really important to what we do.
In the week leading up to the open day all pupils were asked to chip in to make the place presentable – cutting back overgrown paths, moving piles of manure, chopping wood for the pizza oven etc.
The reason we decided to move our open days to a Friday is so more pupils can attend – a chance to show off what they do and be proud of their achievements and if their parents and carers come, a chance for us to big them up.
One of our lads showed off his bushcraft knowledge to a couple of volunteers from Neo who told us ‘M spoke really intelligently about woodwork and survival skills – he was very engaging, patient and encouraging.’ 

Others did tours, helped on the gate, with the smoothie bike and pizza making.

So was it a success? In terms of pupils helping and parents/carers coming along it beat the rest hands down with former pupils adding to the numbers and making it a memorable day for everyone. 

On the smoothie bike

Making pizzas - all day!

Picking fruit 



Sunday, 7 July 2013


In November 2011 the building we used as an outdoor classroom was burnt to the ground
For the past 17 months we have been busy working on a new timber framed building using locally coppiced wood and the frame is now up! We have used sweet chestnut for the majority of the frame. This is abundant in Sussex and has excellent durability and strength with hand made oak pegs to hold it together.
The walls will be built using a variety of mediums including cord wood, wattle and daub, but  mainly straw bales which will be rendered with a clay, sand mixture using a lime wash externally. The roof will be pitched; sealed with breathable membrane and tiled with recycled tiles.
We have no power at our site so all excavation and landscaping has been done by hand. We have no vehicular access to the top of the steep hill so all materials have been moved by armies of people. 
Having no power means all carpentry work has been carried out in traditional fashion with the aid of a battery powered drill. All other work has been done using chisels, handsaws, rasps and so on. Because there has been no plant machinery or power tools we have produced almost no noise pollution, being model neighbours!
The rebuild has also give us the chance to offer work experience and training to a large number of school pupils and volunteers getting them involved in all aspects of the rebuild. We have also been able to take on a former unemployed volunteer as an apprentice carpenter. 
When finished our new eco-shed will be the projects flagship building, helping us expand our work with pupils, run courses and events at the project as well as having somewhere warm and dry in the winter for volunteers.
A massive thank you to Comic Relief for funding this project 

* Do you like what we are doing and can help us financially? Why not become a Friend of the Forest Garden or sponsor a straw bale for 10 pounds a bale?

* Have you got any of these building materials lying round that we could have?!

·        3 tonnes of building sand
·         2 tonnes of clay
·         A pair of hard wood external doors and frame
·         A single wood external door and frame
·         80m2 of breathable roofing membrane
·         40m2 of solid wooden flooring or the equivalent amount of old scaffold planks
·         Large plastic trugs for mixing clay.
·         Large ground sheets.
·         Sheets of UV resistant Perspex
·         Hardwood window  frames
·         160m of 50mm batons
·         3m lengths of 2by4 between 20-30
·         12 m2 of hardwood decking
·         44 roofing timbers 5m long 50mm by 120mm

·         Any lengths of timber that either treated or hardwood for general building