Saturday, 24 May 2014


Our timber-framed 'shed' is really starting to take shape after a busy few weeks of team-building with groups from Southern Water, Santander, The Carers Centre and our regular volunteers.

Part of the team-building challenge was making cob which involves people removing shoes and socks to mix sand, clay and water with bare feet before adding in fine straw to hold the mix together. People also made and sharpened hazel stakes and used them to pin the bales together by banging them in with wooden mallets. They also carried bales up the hill and helped build a cordwood wall with cob, logs, and bottles. Each team were rewarded with home-made pizzas cooked in our outdoor clay oven.


The bales give excellent insulation and once rendered are extremely fire retardant. They will be covered in cob render then a lime and linseed oil wash will be painted on top. The large overhang of the roof will also protect the render from the worst of the weather.

Building Manager Russell Pountney said "The work groups were all fantastic and very productive. Mixing cob is labour intensive and would of taken us weeks without the extra help; everyone got stuck in and got covered in mud and had a good laugh doing so."

You can support the rebuild by donating to our crowdfunding campaign so we can finish it in time for our 20th anniversary party in September.

If you are interested in a team-building challenge get in touch. 


Monday, 12 May 2014


No two days at the forest garden are ever the same. Of course there will always be weeding and cleaning out the compost loo, but you never know who to expect, and with the changing seasons there's always something different to do.
On Friday, one of our special needs lads helpfully used all the carrot and radish seeds up to make tea! Others were being a bit more productive helping move strawbales up to the outdoor classroom – although some were disappointed they weren't allowed to use the chainsaw to cut them to size for the walls

Pupils were busy in the woods, coppicing and making stakes.

One of them showed new people round the project as they do; these are the pupils who really struggle at school, if they bother going at all, and as we roll out our outdoor qualifications we can work with schools to tackle issues like poor literacy by doing simple things like getting them to keep a dairy of their days work.
Thanks to the kind garden weather, we are already harvesting salad, herbs and peas which went well with the fish Catchbox co-op kindly donated for lunch.

Although the maturing broad beans seem to have been hit by a mini tornado. But that's real life gardening not that pristine, made-up stuff you see on TV in a world where slugs don't seem to exist.
As i'm being shouted at to find the biscuits, the coffee and show people how to plant and mulch the runner beans, you have to marvel at the mix of people who come along.
So if you support what we do, how about donating to our crowdfunding campaign to finish off our eco-shed? Not only will this keep all our lovely volunteers dry and warm in the winter, but it will double up as a classroom to help get our pupils the qualifications they need to get on in life. 
And if you're not sure pop up for a cup of tea, chat and a tour by one of our lads. Just check what sort of tea your offered to make sure its not carrot and radish seed!