Category Archives: Farm news

Easter Monday Picnic and Open Day

We were blessed with a mostly sunny day on Monday 17 April 2017.

Through the gates came 124 people, and we all seemed to have a very happy day on the farm!

Activities included the crafty barn, easter egg trail, fishing game and golf ball runway. We all enjoyed the sunny weather, meeting the animals, the tranquil atmosphere and seeing the blossom and new growth. Many picnic lunches were enjoyed.

Thanks to those who brought cakes to share.

Thank you very much to our team of volunteers – Sophia, Becky, Tracey, Paul, Gill, Zoe, Nathan, Adam, Richard, Mauri, Kathy.

Bio-Cycle

Bio-Cycle is a student-led food waste recycling scheme (see their Facebook page).

In the absence of a council scheme to collect veg peelings and other waste food for compost, students from the University of Southampton devised their own scheme.

In preventing unnecessary food waste from going to landfill, by re-using it locally, they hope to encourage sustainability within Southampton and the strong student community, changing the way people view recycling.

The scheme provides student households with food waste caddies and bin liners for a small fee of £10.

This also registers them with a regular weekly food waste pickup service.

There are 35 student households in the scheme.

Each week volunteers go round on bicycles to collect the liners full of compostable materials.

All collected food waste comes to Aldermoor Community Farm – and it comes by bicycle.

 

We put the liners into our custom-built compost bay, layering the fresh material with wood-chip. It is a great recipe for compost.

Bio-Cycle is one of many projects organised by Southampton Hub, a nation-wide charity whose aim which supports students to tackle social challenges. Find out more here: southamptonhub.org/sustainability

 

Bike2Basics

We are really pleased to have Bike 2 Basics at Aldermoor Community Farm on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of every month.

They run a Community Bike Doctor session where they undertake minor repairs to bicycles. They encourage people to watch the repair so they can learn how it is done, and are happy for people to undertake their own repairs under supervision.

They can do safety checks, minor repairs and service work. They can also advise of more in-depth repairs that may need to be undertaken by your local bicycle repair shop.

Bike 2 Basics is a Southampton-based community bike project. Their aim is to offer services that enable more people to cycle safely around the city and surrounding areas. Their services are run by volunteers, and they aim to create an inclusive and fun environment for people to work in.

Find out more at bike2basics.org.uk

Permaculture Southampton

Permaculture Southampton is hosted at Aldermoor Community Farm on the 3rd Saturday of the month.

We began in April 2017 by looking at the principles of permaculture. A total of 25 people have met together, with around 15 people at each of the 5 facilitated sessions. See below for details.

These sessions took considerable preparation and the presenters are taking a break now.

Instead we propose to move to offering a facilitated informal gathering to share our interests and expand our knowledge around permaculture. Bring your questions, ideas, inquiries, projects and problems that can be explored by the group using permaculture ethics and principles. 

HOWEVER, our facilities for hosting at Aldermoor are as yet basic. We have space for about 10 to squash in around our wood burner in the staff room. We are therefore postponing longer meetings until we have created a warm indoor space, or until spring 2018 (whichever comes first!). In the meantime, we will host a permaculture lunch (hot soup) on the 3rd Saturday of the month and provide an opportunity to meet and keep in touch.

You may also like to join our regular volunteering on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to get active and learn by doing.

NEW PEOPLE WELCOME AT ANY STAGE!
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Meetings in 2017-2018

08 April Permaculture Ethics
20 May 1. Observe and interact
17 June 2. Catch and store energy
15 July (informal learning through volunteering)
19 August (informal learning through volunteering)
16 September 3. Obtain a yield
21 October 4. Apply self-regulation & accept feedback
18 November Permaculture lunch – to catch up and make plans.
? 5. Use & value renewable resources and services
? 6. Produce no waste
? 7. Design from patterns to details
? 8. Integrate rather than segregate
? 9. Use small & slow solutions
? 10. Use & value diversity
? 11. Use edges & value the marginal
? 12. Creatively use & respond to change

Permaculture - Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability

Why Permaculture? Permaculture is a phrase created in the 1970s to describe ways of managing the land to produce food in a sustainable or permanent way (permanent agriculture). The big idea was to consciously design better ways of working with nature, rather than against it. Over the last 30 years the principles used by permaculture designers have been developed into a framework that is useful in areas beyond producing food. These principles can help us organize our households and communities in more sustainable ways.

The principles have been collated by David Holmgren, the co-originator of permaculture. There is a free summary of the principles available from David’s website.

You may want to dig deeper by reading the relevant chapter of David Holmgren’s book, Permaculture – Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability. The book is quite rich with deep ideas and concepts. It is in stock at October Books for £17.95 which includes a £2 discount.

 

Purpose of the group

  • To study the principles of permaculture in order to apply them to our lives and communities here in Southampton.
  • This is a group thing – we seek to nurture a community of people sharing resources as we apply permaculture principles to our lives and communities.
    Resources include knowledge, experience, enthusiasm and materials like plants, seeds, books, and tools.
  • To make permaculture accessible to people locally and at no cost.

Name of the group: “Permaculture Southampton”

This naming convention was suggested by Bill Mollinson (one of the co-originators of permaculture). He said to align with your democratic boundaries to make it straightforward to work with your local government.

 Organisation

The group is supported by Aldermoor Community Farm and the teaching is led by Richard Pitt from Aldermoor Community Farm. The process and activities for each session are designed with the help of Richard Parker from The Active Arts Community. Richard and Richard host the sessions.

We have an email mailing list for keeping in touch.

Logo

This is our logo. Made for us by a friend.

What do you see in it? This is some of what we see:

  • Young and old working together
  • Producing food
  • Nurturing the land
  • The central importance of soil
  • We have roots

Volunteering

Our volunteering days are Fridays and Saturdays.

We start at 1000 and run until 1700. You can join for all or part of the session.

We have a cuppa mid-morning, a “bring and share” lunch at 1230ish and another break in the afternoon.

We send everyone home and lock up at 1700.

Please contact us for more information.

Themes 2017

Below is a high-level view of our efforts for 2017 and what we hope to achieve. We use themes to give overall guidance to our day to day planning. We have some themes that relate to our maturing as an organisation and others that we would like to explore if we have time and resources.

Maturity themes

As an organisation we are entering our third full year. We have identified themes around our maturing and use them to describe our core activities and the things we want to achieve this year.

Scaling up sales of produce

2016 was like an apprenticeship in growing vegetables. In 2015 we had been clearing the nettles and brambles over the majority of the site. Then last year we identified our growing beds and had our first go at growing significant quantities of annual plants like beans and lettuces. This year we are planning to produce a significant range and quantity of fresh produce and develop markets for it. We will be selling directly to local residents from our own covered stall (built summer 2016). We will also be selling to local green grocers such as the Veg Shed, who bought a significant quantity of beetroots from us at the end of the 2016 season.

Increasing staffing levels to support growth

In order to support this scaled up production of fruit and veg we need to ensure we have sufficient staff resources to plan and oversee the work. The development of the farm over the last 2 years has been made possible by our staff members Adam and Richard who are each paid for 0.5 day per week, totaling 0.2 full time equivalent (FTE) but who have voluntarily worked an additional 1.5 days and 4.5 days each week respectively (total of 1.4 FTE). Due to changes in Adam’s family commitments he needs 3 days paid work per week from March 2017. This increase in his availability fits with our increased need for his time. As our income from produce and on-site activities is growing we are seeking to pay Adam and Richard for the days they each work on the farm (total of 1.6 FTE)

Developing team leader volunteers

Since October 2016 we have been opening the farm every Saturday to sell produce and to facilitate volunteer sessions. Before this time we were only open for sales during the day on Wednesday and Friday and for volunteering on Thursdays and Fridays. The Saturday sessions are gaining in popularity, with good turn out even in January 2017. This is increasing our customer base and gaining us new volunteers. Because we are open on Saturdays we have also been able to host Bike2Basics, a social enterprise offering a bike doctor clinic. Besides giving us a small venue hire income this is adding to the numbers of visitors to the farm and providing a very good service to local residents. It is Richard who takes the main responsibility for staffing Saturdays. For Saturdays to be sustainable we need to develop Team Leader Volunteers who can take charge on Saturdays when Richard is not available.

Improving basic amenities

We want to increase involvement on the farm – to do this we need to provide better toilets, hand-washing and social spaces on the farm. We need our own electricity supply and drinking water supply. We want to make our own compost-based toilet system rather than using the outside toilet on the house next door. We need a hand-wash area that can cope with groups, rather than using the outside toilet on the house next door. We need to increase our solar panel and battery system so we can have comprehensive lighting in the barn that is reliable on darker days. We would like to have a washing up facility for clearing away our tea and coffee and lunch crockery (currently Richard takes it back to his home and washes up there in the evening).

Encouraging more local involvement

We will continue reaching out to the local community to increase the number of people benefiting from the farm. We will continue to welcome visitors when the shop is open. We will hold open days on the bank holidays throughout the year. And we will start a new weekly group for parents/carers and pre-school children.

Providing educational opportunities

We are going to create opportunities to encourage local residents to learn from activities on the farm and develop their own food-producing skills at home. We will devise a range of workshops where people can come and try their hand at growing food. We will provide practical support for growing at home – such as seedlings and containers to take home. We also want school children to visit us and learn first hand about sustainable food production.

Bringing all the site into use

We have three spaces still to be cleared for use. First there is an area of scrub earmarked for our second compost bay area. Secondly there is an area of old pig sties with willow and laurel growing out of it that we want to clear so we can use it for storage. Finally there is a large mass of concrete hard standing at the heart of the site which we would like to remove to make space for growing beds. This is a considerable undertaking.

Exploration themes

These themes describe the things we are hoping to explore in order to develop our future capabilities.

  • Office. Richard and Adam do not have a permanent dry and warm place to carry out the administrative and planning tasks necessary for running the farm. We will evaluate alternatives for creating this space on the farm.
  • Learning space and kitchen. Central to our plans for increasing income is the need for a teaching space for workshops, which would include a kitchen for preparing refreshments and a place to eat lunch. We would also use the kitchen for preserving produce, preparing food for volunteers and for serving refreshments at the shop.
  • AquaponicsIn September 2016 we had a Business in the Community day which included some investment in purchasing equipment for growing fish and plants in an inter-connected system. We are modifying and developing this system and will see how productive it can be.
  • Mushroom logs. We can grow mushrooms on logs. When we get fresh logs we can inoculate them and leave them in a damp and cool place and after a few months we get a harvest of mushrooms to sell. This is something to start doing this year.
  • Extra land. We are at the stage when we could consider using more land. We will be looking into what could be possible regards using more of the land in the valley.

Action List

These are the headline actions arising from our themes.

  1. Plan and execute vegetable production.
  2. Develop our budgets to pay Adam 3 days per week and Richard 5 days per week.
  3. Recruit and train Team Leader Volunteers to lead Saturday sessions.
  4. Get quotes for electricity supply and mains water connection; develop a plan for toilets, hand-wash, lighting, washing-up and seating for groups of 15-20.
  5. Plan open days; plan a parent and toddler group.
  6. Develop a plan for hosting workshops at the farm.
  7. Clear second compost bay site and make compost bays; clear willows and laurel from old pig sties; break up and remove concrete from the main yard.

Richard Pitt / Adam Brown
01 February 2017

Apple Pressing 2016

Sunday 25 September     [10am to 4pm]
Sunday 16 October     [10am to 4pm]

chopping ashurst press brens press

We are excited to announce TWO apple pressing days for this year.

We had a great time last year. So much so, that we have booked the press from Ashurst and Colbury Community Group for TWO sessions this year.

Come along from 10am with your apples to press. Or just come along and join in! We pause at about 12ish for a bring and share lunch.

First we cut the apples in quarters. Then they go into the scratter. Then into the press. Then we have amazing fresh apple juice to enjoy. Everyone brings bottles to take some home in – last year everyone went home with at least a 4-pint milk carton of apple juice – most with more!!

The juice needs to be enjoyed in a few days – it starts to ferment quite quickly. Or you can freeze it for a few months. Or you can bottle it and heat it to 75 degrees C for 25 mins  – then it will last in the bottle for about a year.

There are many apple trees around the city that don’t get used – if you don’t have your own tree, perhaps you could go and pick some apples and bring them along! For hints about this, see the website of Southampton’s Urbane Forager.

Hope to see you there!

NOTE – this is a free event for everyone in the community, but if on the day you can make a contribution to our costs, we would appreciate it. We donate £20 to Ashurst and Colbury Community Group for the loan of the equipment.

August Open Day

intensive bedsOn Bank Holiday Monday, 29th August we have an open day.

Gates open at 10am and we keep going until about 4pm.

At the open day you can enjoy the following:
  • map and self-guided tour
  • feed the chickens
  • treasure hunt
  • drain pipe car races
  • the pond will be in use for our new fishing game/competition
  • at lunch time a summer squash curry will be served, with the majority of ingredients grown on the farm
  • our shop will be open with a range of chemical-free fresh produce for sale – sweet corn and golden beetroot should be ready by then, as well as our delicious french beans and runner beans. We also have new season jams and chutneys and local honey for sale.
  • throughout the day our pay as you feel refreshments will be available with home made cakes

Summer Saturday Sessions

Announcing Saturday sessions for volunteers in May, June and July!

These are the dates booked in so far:

  • Sat 21 May 
  • Sat 4 June 
  • Sat 2 July
  • Sat 16 July

Our Saturdays start at 0930 and run until 1230. We have a cuppa mid morning and then if you want to stay for our “bring and share” lunch at 1230 that is encouraged! We send everyone home and lock up after lunch.

In May and June we will be potting up germinated seeds, such as basil. Then we will be planting out and potting on various things. There will be seeds to plant in our various beds.

No doubt we will be digging more swales and shaping new ponds at some stage.

And there is always some weeding to do, if you like taming the land!