Author Archives: Richard Pitt

Shop Volunteer

Fancy being a shop keeper for an hour or two each week? Looking for a short-term full-time work experience in retail?

There is a place for you here:

We are looking for enthusiastic people who can help with the following:

  • being friendly and outgoing as you serve our customers
  • maintaining a well-stocked tidy shop – which may include a range of different tasks as you gain experience
  • helping the shop team with behind the scenes tasks, necessary to keep things running smoothly.

We have multiple volunteering slots available, which may suit a range of people.

  • Looking for something part-time to increase your confidence before returning to the workplace?
  • Looking for a short-term, full-time placement as a useful addition to a your CV?
  • Looking to offer a couple of hours a week to keep active during retirement?

Whatever you seek from volunteering, we would like to work with you to make this a positive and fulfilling experience.

To get started, please call in or email or call us on 023 8218 2716. Thank you!

Full details here:

April 2024 – Volunteering

Stats for April: 421 hours of volunteering by 34 volunteers over 17 sessions; 3 new volunteers.
Stats for 2024: 1688 hours, 49 active volunteers, 67 sessions; 11 new volunteers, 2 work experience placements.

This month the apple blossom exploded all over the farm, but the oaks are slower even to show their leaves. Suddenly we had a polytunnel full of seedlings to look after. A bed of lettuce was planted out in the first week of the month – will they survive the snails and slugs?

The soil has warmed up and we are seeding carrots and parsnips directly into the soil. Before the planting out begins in earnest we had a week of dawn and dusk slug/snail patrol, catching 100+ of each every time we go out. This works well just before the clocks go back – it feels like a last opportunity to use the hours of darkness before the days are just too long.

Our second batch of chicks and duckings require daily transfers from the barn to their outside run, a chore that brings a lot of pleasure.

A volunteer built them a new house from donated wood and towards the end of the month they made the transition to be permanently outside, neighbours to our ducks. They are a great attraction and everyone marvels at how quickly they grow.

We continue to improve our compost bays and sort the compost yard. And we are working through logs donated from local tree surgeons to split them for next winters firewood.

March 2024 – Volunteering

Stats for March: 409 hours of volunteering by 32 volunteers over 16 sessions; 1 new volunteer; 1 work experience placement.
Stats for 2024: 1267 hours, 44 active volunteers, 8 new volunteers, 2 work experience placements.

This month we were looking ahead to our Spring Celebration (Sat 23rd), making preparations and tidying up. We had a big load of wood chippings arrive just in time to finish off some of the muddy areas. Spring bulbs were in full swing by now.

The celebration was wonderful, with a cake, crafts and day-old chicks which were especially appreciated.

Music and yoyo tricks were provided by friends David and Guy (one of which appeared as Albert the Lion).

This month we were also running a £10k matched funded Crowdfunder, which hit the target in the last week. It was amazing to receive generous support from so many members of the farm community.

On Wed 27th we had 27 pupils from Oakwood primary for a tour. They were looking especially at birds so we talked about the wild and the working birds on the farm. It was pouring with rain as they walked here from the school – they bravely and keenly persisted with their tour, and the rain eased off.

Cari Stewart, our volunteer animal lead, took volunteers onto her land, improving drainage and maintaining things for the ponies and lambs. We created a gap in the hedge by Chickens 1 so that visitors can look through to see the lambs in their shelter.

We rationalized our goose and chicken housing to release houses for the second batch of ducks/chicks, which arrived in time for the open day. We have five chicks and 3 ducks in this batch. The chick with a bad leg from the first batch is now with second batch, getting around ok. The chick and ducking from batch 1 are going out into a day hutch each day now.

Pots of perennials like currants, gooseberries, strawberries and day lilies were smartened up for the shop. Our chilli seedlings were all eaten – the slugs beat us again. We set up 15 potato sacks and planted our first early potatoes. Our first direct sow of carrots, parsnips and turnips was hampered by the prevalent rain. On 20th March at 9.30pm we picked about 100 snails off bed 1, mostly making for the newly planted radish seedlings. Many of these snails were small.

The oriental leaves and over-wintered lettuce in the polytunnel began to really produce and give us 10 bags at a picking. Delicious!

We continued the routine tasks of processing logs, clearing sand from the spring and irrigation system refurbishing the compost yard and building up the hot boxes. We started getting horse manure from the ponies next door.

We had a lot of rain to contend with, and the month ended very wet and extremely windy. We closed the shop early on Thursday 28th because the wind was lifting water butt lids and other objects and throwing them around the farm.

By the end of the month the apple blossom was showing. And of course the ducks were still working hard…

February 2024 – Volunteering

Stats for February: 398 hours of volunteering by 32 volunteers, over 17 sessions; 3 new volunteers and 1 work experience placement.
Stats for 2024: 865 hours, 39 active volunteers, 7 new volunteers, 1 work experience placement.

February was still cold and wet, but the first cherry plum blossom appeared on the 1st! A sure sign spring is coming.

The barn saw a lot of changes this month as the shop was finally moved to the cabins with a big effort at the start of the month. Our first day trading in the cabins was Tue 6th Feb.

Immediately we reorganised the barn to create a designated storage and prep area for the shop and leave the rest of it clear. This was just in time to host the February edition of Southampton Clothes Swap on 10th. After that we were able to reinstall the Pre-Loved Shed in the barn. And then at the end of the month our first batch of chicks and ducklings arrived, hatched by our new animal care lead, Cari Stewart.

Produce from the land was still coming in small quantities – leeks and a few salad leaves. The watercress was going strong still and we unearthed some lovely Jerusalem Artichokes.

Visiting or serving in the shop was a miserable experience in the rain as both doors opened directly to the outside and it was a wet walk from one cabin to the other. At the end of the month we managed to fit a marquee between the two cabins. We had to cut some poles down to fit the last section, but with a bit of jiggling it worked and we have a rainproof space from door to door. A great relief. We weighed it down with our homemade sandbags, using coffee sacks and the sand that now flows from our spring. Thankfully the whole structure was tested by heavy winds a few days later and we were relieved to discover it stood firm.

The raspberries that had been growing under the apples and pears (bed 25) were transplanted to make a new bed near the outdoor kitchen and we mulched under the trees with a large wool carpet, hoping to keep it much tidier than in previous years. We also enlarged the rhubarb bed by the outdoor kitchen.

We created a new path around the back of the outdoor kitchen, giving a lovely way to go around the perimeter of the farm. We levelled the heap of compost beside PT3 (from the cucumber beds last year, just before they became the wildflower bank). The team saved about a dozen sacks of compost for use in potting-on later in the year.

Around Valentine’s day the frogs converged on the pond for their annual spawning – a busy time! We had to work hard to keep the ducks away – several times they broke through our fences, but eventually we seem to have won.

We had a surplus of garlic which was determined to grow and not be eaten, so Gordon created a new garlic bed on the bank at the top of the farm.

In the polytunnel, tomatoes sown in January were ready for repotting.

Routine work continued: refurbishing the compost bays and filling the hot boxes; pruning fruit trees and currants.

And Sonny Boy our cat kept his cool, dozing in the tool shed, favouring our basket of string.

January 2024 – Volunteering

Stats: 460 hours of volunteering by 31 volunteers over 17 sessions.
4 new volunteers joined us.

Tuesday 2 January was cold and wet yet we had a full house of volunteers, keen to get on with the winter jobs. Christmas festivities over, we had a busy programme of activity from the very beginning.

We have been going as fast as we can to get our shop moved into the two shipping containers (cabins) that have been with us since 11 December. On new year’s day the farm manager was digging up the concrete outside the barn for the cables to carry electricity to the cabins. On 2nd January we were laying the cables whilst Henry (a local builder and volunteer) didn’t have any work so came and spent all day designing and fitting the shelves for the new shop using wood reclaimed from pallets. Over the next few weekends he also built our beautiful veg display shelves.

Out on the land we moved on from Christmas, shredding Christmas trees returned by customers and taking down our extensive collection of Christmas lights. The farm was bare again, but still producing leeks, watercress, Jerusalem artichokes and some salad greens for the shop. The ducks loved getting out and about and always seemed to find rewards for their persistent foraging.

We sowed onions and planted out some elephant garlic we had been given.

We also sliced the last green luobo winter radish, and kept the top to grow to flower and seeds:

Our winter maintenance jobs were underway – harvesting compost from last year’s hotboxes in the polytunnel and beginning the cycle again, filling them with compostable materials. In the compost yard we did the next turn on various batches of compost and began a serious refurbishment of the compost bays. This was possible because we had been given a quantity of large pallets saved by our neighbour from a hotel refurbishment in town. We also made a new culvert below the blackcurrant patch, as the surface water in that area was becoming a problem.

We began pruning currants and gooseberries and our apples and pears. This was early for us – it’s good to be organised.

Our water supply comes from a spring which has started giving out a lot of fine sand, especially after heavy rain. We have added to our maintenance schedule the clearing of the spring box and irrigation lines of sand.

In a new job for us, we started cleaning bricks from the old shed on the farmhouse that had blown down in the autumn. We hope to sell them to a reclaim business.

On rainy days we spent a lot of time stapling 10% off vouchers on shop leaflets, ready to encourage new customers for Jan, Feb and March. These were delivered by friends and volunteers, including the very enthusiastic guys from Good Gym:

Mid-month it was very cold at -5C in the barn on 18th January. Yet in this time our duck and chicken eggs were fertile and the first batch went off with Cari, our volunteer animal lead, for incubation.

In the background the farm manager was busy with budgeting and funding applications, taking time out from practical work. To facilitate this Liz took on an extra day of leading the volunteers and Eddie took Tuesday afternoons in the shop.

Plan your Veg Garden

Date: Saturday 27 April; 1000 – 1600
Cost: £45 each (£35 students/unwaged)
Booking: fill out the form here (you have to book in advance for this workshop)

Would you like to kickstart your veg growing efforts this year?

Come to the farm for the day and we will help you plan it all:

  • plants – what to grow, when to sow your seeds, when to plant out seedlings.
  • beds – where to put them, what size, the ‘no dig’ method
  • compost – how to start/improve home composting
  • weeding and watering – strategies for looking after your plants
  • pest control – making sure you get to eat your veggies

This workshop is suitable for absolute beginners, or those just wanting to plan and prepare better than in previous years.

During the day we will teach you permaculture principles that help you design your garden. You will choose what to grow; learn how to prepare your beds and set up your compost system. We will show you how to start off seedlings and give advice on planting them out.

You will leave the day with a plan of action for growing your own veg at home this year.

Lunch will be provided – hot soup and cake made by our very own Pam.

Advance booking is required – fill out the form here.

Apple Pressing

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.

We have all the equipment – maybe you have all the apples?

We have sessions where you can book the equipment in our Outdoor Kitchen and come along and use it to make your apple juice. We support you with instruction.

What you need:

  • lots of apples. About 3 carrier bags full is the minimum to make it worthwhile.
  • clean containers to put the juice in. If you don’t have glass bottles with lids, how about milk cartons, fizzy drink bottles.

We will show you how to clean up afterward. There is no charge for hire, but we would appreciated whatever you can afford to support the development of the Outdoor Kitchen.

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.

DATES for 2023
Please phone the shop during opening hours to book a slot:

  • Saturday 16 September: 10.00am; 11.30am; 1.30pm; 3.00pm
  • HARVEST FESTIVAL!!! Saturday 23 September: 10.00am; 11.30am; 1.30pm; 3.00pm

Shop on the move

Do you remember what it is like in the winter in our shop?


Not this winter.

Local company Storage on Site ( are lending us a shipping container converted into a cabin. This will allow us to move our shop out of the barn while we make improvements (subject to planning permission).

The cabin is supplied ready to use with electric hook up. This winter our shop will be warm and cosy – such a change from previous years!

Here is an example of what we are getting:

And this is inside the cabin:

We are very grateful to Storage on Site for this generous support, and we are sure our customers will also be grateful as we all know how cold and damp the barn gets in the winter.

First we have to clear the space. The Pre-Loved shed is going first!

And here is a video showing a bit more detail:




WORKSHOP: Intro to Permaculture

Next course is Saturday 9 December.
Thinking of coming?
Please fill out our online form to reserve a space.

Permaculture is a powerful set of ideas that we have used to help us establish the farm. Would you like to know more about it? Come and find out in our introductory workshop that sets a foundation for your ongoing learning and application of permaculture principles.

The workshop will be led by Richard Pitt, Farm Manager. Using the farm itself as a story-book I will mix story-telling with activities designed to allow participants to relate the Aldermoor story to their own.

I will be explaining how permaculture principles have informed our practices. I include consideration of our regrets – the things along the way we wish we’d done (or not done!). 

I will offer suggestions for answers to the following:

  • What is permaculture?
  • How can it be useful in my garden?
  • How can it be useful in my life?

I will highlight some favourite aspects of permaculture and share knowledge that we have found helpful at Aldermoor. I will also make a bit of time for attendees to reflect on what to take away and put into practice.

After the workshop you are invited to stay for a bring and share lunch, allowing time for further conversations.

Event details

Venue: Aldermoor Community Farm, Aldermoor Road, Southampton, SO16 5NN
[we will be in our compost-heated polytunnel!!]
Date: Saturday 9 December 2023
Time: 09:30 – 12:30
Speaker: Richard Pitt (Farm Manager)
Capacity: 10 people. Please fill out our online form to reserve a space.
Cost: It is £15 per person. Payable on the day by cash or card.


0930 – 1000 Welcome and refreshments
1000 – 1115 Session 1
1115 – 1130 Break
1130 – 1230 Session 2
1230 – 1400 [optional] Bring and share lunch

Feedback from previous workshops

We had a great time at the permaculture course and felt inspired when we left so thank you again.

Thank you so much for running the permaculture workshop I really enjoyed it. It was lovely to spend that time with you and learning about the farm and your own journey, very informative and great to get some reference material too. 

I love what you and your community have done with Aldermoor it is inspiring, and sharing how you achieved it is very generous and helping achieve a better view on the way I use my garden.

About the farm

Aldermoor Community Farm was started in 2014 by Richard Pitt and friends, who set up a cooperative to begin restoring an overgrown acre of land into a sustainable and productive small holding. Over the years since then the farm has become an example of how to grow veg without harmful chemicals, with other features like chickens, ducks, compost making and off-grid toilets. Now a project of Southampton charity Alder Trust, the farm is well established with a community of volunteers working the land and a community of customers frequenting the farm shop which sells a range of produce and homewares.

Coffee Shop Volunteer

We have a new opportunity for volunteering on the farm.

Our shop continues to grow – we now have an espresso machine for making delicious coffees and we offer cakes and teas too.

On Saturdays we need a volunteer to help Liz, our wonderful Saturday shop assistant.

One day we hope this will be a paid position, but for now we can’t afford it, so instead we have created a great work experience opportunity, like a little job.

We will support you to gain experience and confidence. You will get training in making coffee making and the relevant food hygiene training. After a few months we can provide you with a reference that would help you get a job in a coffee shop at a later stage.

We aim to set up a rota of volunteers, asking you to commit to a 3-hour session (morning or afternoon) once or twice per month.

Full details can be downloaded here and are all below as well.

If you would like to become one of our team, please contact us for an application form.

  • Title: Coffee Shop Volunteer
  • Minimum Age: 16
  • Hours: 3 hours per session. We are looking to cover the slots 0930-1230 and 1330-1630
  • Reports to: Shop Manager/Farm Manager


Our shop assistant has an ever-increasing range of tasks to perform and with the addition of an espresso machine for take away hot drinks, we need to provide extra support on Saturdays, our busiest day.

The purpose of the shop volunteer role is to make and serve hot drinks and to provide assistance to the shop assistant, helping to keep the shop running efficiently during opening hours and reducing waiting times for customers.

PRIMARY Responsibilities

  • Taking turns on a rota and being reliable.
  • Communicating promptly with Farm Manager when not available for a session.
  • Following food hygiene procedures, monitoring fridge temperatures
  • Making and serving coffee and other hot drinks
  • Keeping the outdoor seating area clean and tidy

OTHER Responsibilities

Helping the shop assistant by:

Assisting customers with the refill stations:

  • detergent and soap refills
  • milk refills

Keeping the shop well-stocked:

  • making up bags of flour
  • replenishing veg from the fridges
  • replenishing other produce like eggs, bottles, jars, tins

Keeping the shop tidy:

  • general awareness of what the shop looks like and keeping the shelves tidy
  • wiping down surfaces, cleaning the fridges, sweeping the floor
  • breaking up cardboard boxes

Welcoming and showing visitors round the farm:

  • dispensing chicken feed and showing where the chickens are
  • explaining safety precautions

If you would like to become one of our team, please contact us for an application form.