Wednesday, 25 July 2018


Any trustee worth their runner beans should always ask the question 'why are we doing this?' And so Forest Garden secretary and regular volunteer Duncan quite rightly asked – what is it we want from our annual open day?
It's not to make money, if it wasn't for the generous grant from Homity Trust it would cost us to put on the event but we do hope new visitors will see the value in our work and support us financially.
It's not just about numbers, although 150 came through the gates and about the same number of pizzas flew out of our clay oven.
For those with learning disabilities that volunteer regularly it is a chance to show their friends and families what they get up too. For some it is tinged with sadness. The Cheesman family have always been massive supporters of the project and Matthew Cheesman was a much loved regular volunteer who died suddenly a few months back. It affected everyone at the garden and we are busy working on 'Matthew's Corner' to remember him.
Another volunteer brought up his family. Since working with us, he's lost weight, been able to cut down on his medication and most importantly make new friends.
We also had seven students from Brighton Aldridge Community Academy (BACA) who come to the project on Thursdays while Pat and Carly work with them and other pupils at BACA other days of the week. They showed off the skills they had learnt, some put on the bee suits and checked out the hives, and of all of them made pizzas – and while people hunted for wildlife one used his camouflage skills to hide in a big apple tree and dangle a giant rubber beetle down to startled passers by! A group of adults who were failing to light a fire using natural techniques were shown how too by a Year 7 pupil in one strike. These pupils struggle at school and yet are thriving in an outdoor classroom environment. One lad in particular has benefited from funding we have received from the Fonthill Foundation which has enabled us to offer 1-1 booster sessions. Working a couple of hours extra with Pat each week has enabled him to pass his level one in Woodland Skills. We also had lots of families with younger children at Moulsecoomb Primary, familiar with us from our work at the school and the visits to the garden. 

Another former pupil is now working for Spiral Sussex. We have been working with her family for years at Moulsecoomb Primary and BACA and she has helped Carly cooking crew food at festivals but it has been her work at the garden where she realised she has real rapport working with adults with learning disabilities which has led her to paid work.
We also had our first Bug Off with Rachel Bicker, the biodiversity consultant at Gatwick and Beth Nicholls from Team Pollinate a Sussex University project collecting data on pollinators in the city. They worked with visitors and scoured the garden and ponds finding 96 different species all entered into iRecord website. Both Rachel and Beth are regular visitors to the project and have tapped into our volunteers passion for wildlife. We will be using their expertise to see how we can increase wildlife habitats including a new bee and butterfly bank we will create with Moulsecoomb Primary school as part of our partnership with Moulsecoomb train station. 

While Carly's pizzas are always popular Jo's cafe was doing a roaring trade of home made sweet and savoury snacks made and served by our volunteers. We also held our first raffle thanks to support from The Grand, Brighton Open Air Theatre, Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, M&S, a nail manicure, an amazing home-made vegetable themed cake and Brighton and Hove Buses, with access officer Victoria Garcia and instructor Kim popping up to the garden.


So what is the open day for? Well it's not just a window into our work but an opportunity for the wide variety of people who come to the garden to feel part of a community and proud of the work they do.

* Why not become a Friend of the Forest Garden and make a regular monthly donation ? 

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Tuesday, 30 January 2018


Matthew Cheesman 1968-2018 

We are sorry to announce the passing of Matthew Cheesman. 

Matthew had been coming to the garden every Friday for seven years. With his big smile and cheerful disposition, Matthew was a joy to have around. He was a very good gardener and he loved to cook – as was also partial to the odd biscuit that we have with our endless cups of tea,
Rushing excitedly up the hill asking what jobs we had to do today he was also very canny. The other month he said he wasn't feeling very well – this of course had nothing to do with the massive pile of woodchips that had just been delivered, ready to be pushed up the hill! 
We like to socialise at the garden and Matthew was really content when after an event we would all sit round the fire with a beer or when we all went to the Bevy Pub for a pint. Him and Pat once got a sharing platter at the Bevy, unfortunately for Pat the only thing Matthew wanted to share was one onion ring. He also had grand plans for turning our cabin into a bachelor pad, with a comfy sofa, stereo and TV. 
Matthew loved to cook with Carly and Jo but could come back with some interesting cooking impliments. One time when he was asked to go and get a bowl but he came back half hour later with a golf club ! 
He got on really well with people, and was a great ambassador for the project often helping show visitors around. 
Everyone at the garden has been saying that its not the same without him so later this year we will be creating 'Matthews corner' with his own bench and a fruit tree. We are working on finding a chocolate biscuit bush to grow next to it 
So thank you Matthew for everything you brought to the garden – it just isn't the same without you.