Category Archives: What’s on

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.

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.

Apple Pressing 2017

Sunday 15 October     [10am to 4pm]

For the third year in a row we are hiring an apple press from Ashurst and Colbury Community Group.

Come along from 10am with your apples to press. Or just come along and join in! We pause at about 1230 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 have to collect, clean and return the equipment and we donate £10 to Ashurst and Colbury Community Group for the loan of the equipment.

Kefir – Prebiotic | Probiotic | Postbiotic – what and why?

Do you know your prebiotic from your probiotic and your postbiotic?

[CLUE: it is something to do with the good bacteria that live in our intestines and are vital for healthy digestion]

One of our volunteers (Mark – pictured below) has been making his own probiotic for a while now – he makes kefir from kefir grains. He is going to lead a course to further our understanding of this and show how to make kefir from kefir grains.

Volunteer Mark puts finishing touches to washing up station

This is Mark who will lead the course, on the day he helped make our kitchen sink!

Mark will run the course from 1100 to 1230 on Saturday 30 September. After the course we invite you to stay and join our regular Saturday bring-and-share lunch.

There is no charge for the course, but we would appreciate what you can afford as a suitable donation to support the work of the farm.

To book a place, please fill out the form below:

Permaculture Southampton 2017-09-16

3. Obtain a yield.

[Please book in further down the page]

Last time we looked at catching and storing energy to rebuild nature’s capital. This month we are looking at the more immediate issue of designing our systems to give us a reward in the short term.

Put simply, it’s no good planting a food forest for our grandchildren but in the mean time not having enough to eat ourselves!

We will look at what kind of yields are important, and how we obtain a yield without betraying our ethical principles or the second principle to catch and store energy.

  • [optional] 1000 Volunteering: Come and do some work on the farm to immerse yourself in what we have been learning about permaculture.
  • [optional] 1230 Bring-and-share lunch
  • 1330-1700 Obtain a yield: We are working through the 12 principles of permaculture as defined by David Holmgren. The hosts will introduce the topic and help us as a group consider how the principle applies to us here in Southampton.

Please book in here:

Permaculture Southampton 2017-06-17

2. Collect and Store Energy
This is the second principle of permaculture. We thought about this on 17 June 2017.

We live in a culture where energy is consumed in all sorts of forms and often without a thought to where it comes from and where it goes, or what effect we are having on future generations.

As we delved into what we mean by energy – what it does for us. We went beyond the physics of the fuels and energy sources that underpin our lifestyles to also consider the energy that is needed to get things done in a wide range of contexts. We looked at issues of wealth and waste.

We considered where energy is wasted and could instead be stored in all areas of our lives.

Here are some outputs from our time:


Previous Meeting – where we looked at the first principle: Observe and Interact
Permaculture Southampton – the home page for our meetings.

Permaculture Southampton 2017-05-20

1. Observe and Interact
This is the first principle of permaculture. It is the foundation of design.

These are some notes (taken by Leesa).

We have a rough recording of the main session, which you can download here or play here:

Observation is collecting information, usually directly. Our culture is filled with opportunities to let others collect information for us – indeed others may now apparently report to us “alternative facts”.

Interaction in this context means to make some kind of change to what we are observing in order to influence it towards the outcome that we want. This process is at the heart of gardening, but can be applied in any context.

Design thinking guidelines

  • all observations are relative
  • top-down thinking, bottom-up action
  • the landscape is the text book
  • failure is useful if we learn
  • elegant solutions are best – simple or invisible
  • make the smallest intervention necessary
  • avoid too much of a good thing
  • the problem is the solution
  • recognise and break out of design cul-de-sacs

What next?

This is an idea for digging into this principle.

  1. Choose a topic to focus on – something you are interested, a problem or a new thing to do
  2. Summarize your observations about it
    1. what patterns do you recognise?
    2. what details can you appreciate?
    3. where are the boundaries of this system?
    4. what other systems influence it?
  3. Let the design thinking guidelines help you analyse what has already been done and suggest actions for the future.


Previous Meeting – where we looked at the ethical principles of permaculture.
Permaculture Southampton – the home page for our meetings.

Open Days

Our open days are designed to introduce local people to the farm and make an enjoyable time for all. We choose to do them on bank holiday Mondays so that can have a good day out in the country without having to go too far!

We open the gates at 10am and provide special activities for all the family. We recommend bringing a picnic (although sometimes we are able to to provide a lunch) and allowing yourself plenty of time to wander around, exploring and enjoying.

  • Monday 17 April – Easter Hunt and Picnic
  • Monday 29 May – Grow Your Own –
    • this open day will be with only minimal extra activities as we are short staffed.  There will be shop, plant sale and refreshments with a few simple playthings put out for you.
  • Monday 28 August – Harvest and Preserve
  • Sunday 15 October – Apple Juicing

Permaculture Southampton 2017-04-08

Saturday 8th April – the first meeting of Permaculture Southampton.

About 25 people attended.

We spent some time sharing our personal contexts for permaculture and then considered the 3 permaculture ethical principles.

Ethical principles

Permaculture has foundation of values expressed in these ethical principles. The principles guide us towards good and right outcomes and away from bad and wrong outcomes.

  • Care for the earth – rebuild nature’s capital
  • Care for people – self, kin and community
  • Fair share – set limits; redistribute surplus

Our natural inclination is act in our own interest. These principles help us remember that we are part of something bigger, something more long-term that our immediate self-interest.

These principles acknowledge the ecological reality of our needs – we depend on the earth for our very survival. Yet in our culture we are generally disconnected from the living earth.

These principles are unashamedly human-centred and do not neglect our personal responsibility. Yet as I take care of myself I am actually reducing my dependence on a global economy, which is a good thing. I am growing up through self-reliance.

These principles tackle both abundance and scarcity. If you apply permaculture principles you will learn the word abundance and will create a surplus of resources! We have it is an ethical principle to redistribute that surplus. We also acknowledge the ecological reality or our existence and set limits to our consumption of resources. This is quite counter-cultural!!

Feedback and Comments

If you would like to add your feedback from the session, please feel free to contact us with it.

* Just wanted to share with you how much I enjoyed meeting you all today, how much it means to me to find like-minded individuals in the city where I live. Sometimes it seems everyone is all (kept) so busy it’s impossible to make that level of contact these days. So, thank you for the opportunity, and it was great to reflect about what we it means to us and what we would like to achieve.

* Thank you for setting up the project, it will be interesting to see how it develops. I’m with the person who said they’d like to see practical examples of the principles in action. Possibly each of us could take on one aspect on our sites but the farm is the obvious candidate as we will continue to congregate there over the next 12 months. A great deal to think on but how about 10-1 working on the land and then 1.30- 3.30 on the theoretical side?

* Thanks for a most enjoyable session at the farm on Saturday. The session provided exactly what I needed: relaxed atmosphere in delightful surroundings; getting to know a range of people who all seemed to share similar values – wonderful; a slow pace of introduction – listening carefully to everyone; a small group activity which got me closer to three other people and helped us share deeper insights; a plan of action – using the chapters in the book as a focus each month; a close up look at the ethical underpinning of permaculture – I’ve already used those in a discussion during lunch on the Walk the Waterfront walk on Sunday! For me, the session was sufficient entirely and of itself and very good for me. For the people who hadn’t been to the farm before, I picked up some curiosity about wanting to know more about what you’re doing there. Very much looking forward to the next session.


Volunteer with us and you could be: weeding, picking fruit, cutting spinach or chard, sowing seeds, planting out baby plants, weeding, harvesting coriander, upcycling old timber into posts for our chicken enclosures, digging new duck ponds, skimming duckweed off the pond, wheel barrowing compost onto beds, watering things, pruning hedges, (and so the list goes on!!)

We start at 1000 and run until 1600. You can join for all or part of the session. It’s best for us if you arrive either at 1000 or 1330, but we are flexible!!

We currently have volunteering spaces on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

If you need gardening gloves we can supply them.

 Lunch on the terrace!

If you are still here at 1600 we will send you home then!

You will need to dress for the weather, and wear suitable things on your feet – it might be wet and muddy underfoot. And when it is hot, it is really hot – we are a bit of sun trap.

Who can volunteer?
No prior experience or knowledge is needed. If you can get about outdoors and are fairly mobile you will be able to join in with what we are doing. Children are welcome to join in if they bring a responsible adult with them.

We have safeguarding arrangements in place for teenagers aged 14-17 to volunteer on Saturdays unaccompanied, which we set up on a case by case basis.

Please contact us to arrange a visit so you can some and see us to talk further.