Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A WEEK IN THE LIFE OF THE FOREST GARDEN

Our work doesn't stop at the allotment gates but carries on every day of the week across Moulsecoomb and beyond.

Last week we helped forage for ingredients to make home made shampoo at Moulsecoomb Primary and the Bevy community pub for an event run by House of Cultural Curiosity as part of the British Science Festival.



We entered fruit and veg, cakes and jams at the Bevy garden show and cooked a Harvest Feast at Moulsecoomb Primary while Stephan from Brighton Permaculture Trust got children to squash the apples and pears grown and harvested by the children at the school to turn into juice.


Now in its 8th year, the Harvest Feast has become part of the school calendar with children serving up the food for parents and carers at the end of the school day.

We ran our first lunchtime gardening club of the new academic year with Year 4 discovering a newt, a frog, some anemic carrots, coriander seed and slug eggs which the children fed to grateful chickens – all while harvesting a bed of garlic. The chickens eggs go to the breakfast club (but not the slug eggs).

The after school club made a pasta dish using yellow courgettes from the school and our giant tomatoes – or zombie tomatoes as the children named them - which were grown by pupils in the heated greenhouse. Carly also uses the veg for the family cooking club she runs.
At the Bevy we help look after the edible pub garden and a lot of the fruit and veg was used by Friday Friends to make jams and pickles to raise money for their seniors Christmas party – as well winning lots of prizes in the garden show. Apples from the school also went to the Friday Friends for their puddings while the rest where taken by the Permaculture Trust to their juicing shed at Stanmer Park.

While Carly was teaching pupils to cook at Brighton Aldridge Community Academy Pat was delivering lessons that included tool safety and techniques, microcosm of wood land ecology using magnification and microscopes, horticulture and the hidden language of trees!

Over the weekend Pat also ran another session at the garden and in the woods with Sensing Friends – a group that works on building stronger more meaningful friendships between blind, partially sighted and sighted youngsters.

This is on top of welcoming over 60 people a week to our workdays including organisations that work with adults with learning disabilities such as St.Johns College, Autism Sussex, Outlook House and Brighton Mencap.

And after such a busy week, it's always good to sit round the table with everyone and eat some of the amazing food that is cooked up at the garden every week 


* Support what we do? Then why not become a Friend of the Forest Garden with a monthly standing order. We'll make sure you get extra toppings on your pizza.


Monday, 17 July 2017

OPEN DAY 2017

The sun shone, the bees buzzed, the pizzas flew out of the oven and the cakes into peoples grateful mouths! What a fantastic open day with nearly 200 people visiting; old friends and new from all walks of life including Kayla Ente from Bhesco, Rich Haworth from The Living Coast and blogger Ian Chisnall from Ashdown Audio Visual

Pupils from Patcham House, Varndean and Brighton Aldridge Community Academy showed off the skills they've learnt. One lad whos been excluded from mainstream school worked his socks off helping Carly with the pizza oven. His brilliant attitude reinforcing our view that not everyone learns best in a classroom environment. 

 pizza production line

learning to make sparks

With disability services being decimated we welcomed St. Johns College and Spiral as well as parents and carers of some of our volunteers; volunteers who looked after the gate, showed people round and helped in our pop-up cafe. 


 your names not down, your not coming in





Ecologist Rachel Bicker hunted for bees and pond-dipped with children – and even let past Mayor Pete West have a go with her butterfly nets. Sonny showed people our beehives, while Moulsecoomb Primary's smoothie bike swirled into action making healthy fruit drinks for everyone. 

 

At the end of the day, we had a celebratory drink round the fire to thank everyone for all their hard work.



Thanks to Brighton and Hove Food Partnership for funding the open day.

* Support what we do? Then why not become a Friend of the Forest Garden with a monthly standing order. We'll make sure you get extra toppings on your pizza. 

Saturday, 25 March 2017

EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITY

As a governor at Moulsecoomb Primary School for over a decade I’ve seen the chipping away of school budgets. It's got to the point where it is national news; with all headteachers complaining that they haven't got enough money to deliver the education that all our children deserve. At our school we have lost nearly £200,000 in the last four years – with another £210,000 to follow.
I was invited to help out at Moulsecoomb Primary when former head, Mr Davies, was transforming the school grounds. He strongly believed that the outdoor environment was as powerful a way of teaching children as inside the classroom. The school have won countless awards whilst giving Moulsecoomb pupils an amazing space to learn and have fun. His legacy continues and thanks to a change in the history curriculum, primary schools from all over Sussex are now paying to come to the school for the day to learn about pre-history.
But these grounds and ageing school buildings cost money. We are also in an area where thousands of students reside in what were once family homes, which means less pupils for our school and so less money. So what do we get rid of? Community worker who is worth her weight in gold finding grants for all the extras that happen in the school, the family worker and support staff who help children in and out of the classroom. Teachers? After school clubs? Trips?
For the past couple of years governors and staff have been working on ways to not just shout about the school's work to encourage more parents to choose Moulsecoomb Primary, but also to help plug some of these funding gaps. Recently East Brighton Trust agreed to give £10,000 to the school every year for three years. This 'enrichment' grant will help support activities like the breakfast club, after school club, trips and paying for organisations to visit us. These are some of the activities that enrich our pupils education and give them a better start in life. Last week building firm Rivers Birtwell came in for a week and transformed our tired old computer room. Little Green Pig have run free story telling workshops, Brighton and Hove Food Partnership run cooking demonstrations and Brighton University painted a mural in our Reading zone. 

 
Rivers Birtwell, Mr.Sutton and children in our freshly decorated computer room

Our parents group PAGE continue to fundraise and in the past few years have bought books for the whole school, outside play equipment, drums for the Samba band, had the hall painted and decked out with new curtains and had an outside building put up to remember Mr.Davies. Parents also help with everything from fixing the flat tyres on the wheelbarrows to taking professional photos for our website. We had an anonymous donation so a year six class could go ice-skating, while the other year six class were treated to the i360 and free lunch - thanks to a generous offer from The New Club restaurant along the seafront. We've had grants from British Science Association to run Science Week events, National Lottery Awards for All to run cooking clubs for children and parents and to buy new computer equipment, and Heritage Lottery Funding to help maintain our unique houses as well as free rail tickets for art week winners to visit galleries in London. 

Summer fayre in our stunning school grounds

We're lucky to be so close to the AMEX stadium and Albion in the Community seem to be in the school everyday. Promotion to the Premier League will be even better! We are also lucky to have become one of Sustrans flagship bike schools with children learning to fix bikes, cycle and of course making fruity drinks from our very own smoothie bike. It was parents, staff and some pupils who built our bike pump track. 
Painting with crushed up charcoal during Science Week

We look for companies to sign up to Team Building days to help with painting or maintaining the garden and every year Brighton College students come and do a days volunteering while Concordia volunteers spend two weeks in the school every summer voluntering.
Thanks to a number of grants from Peoples HealthTrust, Sussex Community Foundation and Southover Manor Trust we've been slowly transforming the old tarmac playground behind the Learning Mentors building. It now has a pond, raised beds and a heated greenhouse and hotbox where we have just sown what surely must be the first ever melons grown in the school as well as tomatoes, peppers and squashes. 
Seed sowing Sweet Banana peppers!

So as you can see, we work hard to bring in money and resources that the school can't afford – and that don't come from the main schools budget.
I don't want the school leadership team worrying about broken toilets and not being able to afford the best teachers but concentrating on making sure pupils get the education they deserve. So if you think you have something to offer pop in and see Lucy or Lana or me – with more cuts around the corner our school needs parents to get involved more than ever.

Warren Carter
Moulsecoomb Primary School governor/parent

* Save our Schools have organised a meeting this Thursday 30th March to organise against these education cuts https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/save-our-schools-launch-party-tickets-33044491965

Monday, 2 January 2017

KEEPING FIT ON MAYORAL DUTIES

It's hard to keep up with Mayor of Brighton and Hove Pete West as he flies past on his tandem, off to yet another event, hoping not to catch the mayoral chains in his bike chains.

It put a few peoples noses out when he decided to break with protocol and support 27 different charities, but for small groups like ours to be chosen was a welcome shot in the arm needed in this climate of never ending cut backs and being asked to do a hell of a lot more with a hell of a lot less. Working with so many different organisations has been fantastic although with so many opportunities sometimes a little overwhelming!

Pete popped along to our open day in July and joined us for Christmas dinner. Was the guest of honor at the Run Forest Run fundraiser, has encouraged John O'Connor to run in the Brighton Half Marathon for us and given us so many other opportunities to raise our profile and our bank balance.

Now this is where you come in.

On 23rd April there is going to be two fundraising Cycle Ride where you can either go for an epic 50 mile cycle ride around the Biosphere boundary starting and finishing at Hove Lawns, or a family friendly 12 mile ride from Hove Lawns to Saltdean and back.

On the 30th April there's going to be fundraising Health Walk along Brighton's boundaries starting at Saltdean Lido. So if you looking for some New Years Resolutions these are the perfect opportunities for you to enjoy yourself, keep fit and raise funds for the forest garden. What more could you want?

* Please contact us if you are interested in fundraising for us at these events 

* Help support our work by becoming a Friend of the Forest Garden and making a monthly standing order

No this isn't the Mayors office but our eco-cabin, which Pete paid a visit to in July

The Mayor with long term volunteer Michael