Washkers the most environmentally way to wash your clothes

Buy Washkers on our store https://store68776081.company.site/products/

Washkers – prepared conkers for you to wash your clothes with

Using conkers or horse chestnuts is a free way for you to make sure your washing chemical free and will do no harm to our world.

I have used them for four years now, and every year I get to have lots of conversations with people helping them start this journey.

The one thing I found was that even when people really loved using them, preparing enough to last a family from session to session was quite hard for many.

Pressures of modern life, working, parenting, or not having anywhere close to collect conkers, and for many not having the physical ability to chop and dry was the biggest barrier to having enough for a whole year.

So WASHKERS was born.

I will always provide the instructions and help people prepare their own, but for those that can’t I hope that by offering washkers for sale I can help them on the journey of regenerative modern living.

Here is my post on how to make your own – and how the journey started

https://thewatercressqueen.wordpress.com/2021/07/12/conkers-for-clothes-washing/

When someone buys washkers from me, they are directly supporting a UK based, non profit that works towards putting more back than it takes from the biosphere.

Every year we plant a minimum of 30 horse chestnut trees, more if we can plus other spices of trees.

Our packaging is upcycled 100% cotton material so it can be composted when you have finished using it – although they make great produce bags, or storage bags. You can even post back to us to refill if you wish, all before it heads to the compost pile.

So what are you waiting for ? why not try some today, see if you like them before conkers session gets here – October – and then you can either make your own or keep supporting New Forest Aquaponics cic with our regenerative work supporting our local community.

Until I work out how to add a shopping cart please could you use this link to purchase the washkers.

https://donorbox.org/washkers-natural-clothes-washing-with-conkers

Please note to reduce our impact, as we have to travel by car to visit a post office we post all orders once a week.

Happy washing 🙂

A Riot on my Doorstep…..

Or was it more of a kerfuffle ?

Or was it an insight to the state of the UK right now. 

I live in the New Forest, not a rich part, but a safe place, with little trouble.  There is an assumption that there is little poverty in this part of the world, and compared to many places there isn’t. But that is changing, and fast. 

Through my non-profit I run  – New Forest Aquaponics CIC – we work alongside a charity and a community group to help to save food waste from supermarkets.  All of us aim to help those who need some extra food to help them through the week (first and foremost), and then to make sure none of the food gets wasted.  

I have a big blue box on my drive. It is an old freezer box that was taken out of a cruise liner at some point.  It works like a giant cool box and works really well as a place for local people to come and help themselves. A little bit like a community fridge, but on my drive. 

What we have found is that over time more and more people are joining the WhatsApp group we use to notify everyone when foods are added to the box. This is great, but is very sad as so many of the people who join it are doing so not to save food waste from the bin, but because they really need some help to make it through to the next payday. 

Last week we had a fairly new volunteer go and pick up the food; she then brought it to our box and in an attempt to give us a night off, didn’t let us know the box was now full.  All of this is my fault for not making sure she knew to let us know the box was full. 

It had some really lovely foods that day, mince and beef burgers, as well as the normal breads and pastries, plus a few vegetables and fruit.  Pictures were taken and shared on WhatsApp, as well as with another food group not too far away. 

We get very very little meat in the collections: it is always regarded as a real treat. I normally freeze any meat, so it can go to those who really need it, either by me (as I see people at the box), or via one of the other groups we work with running  pop up’s, or given out in  a food parcel. 

But because the meat had been put in the box and around 250 people saw the pictures, it became a bit of a race to the box!  And of course it got a little heated, voices raised and accusations of greed flew about.  Not what you would expect on a quiet New Forest road. It took less than 30 minutes for the whole box to empty, disappointing many people. 

All this week I have been answering questions on what happened, and listening to regular users of the box.  

I would like to give my take on why this all happened.   

I do not believe that we are naturally greedy, but I do believe we always are looking for some form of security. Food security is important for us all, and we have a drive to make sure those we love are fed.  For so many the current financial crisis in the UK is hitting really hard. With fuel, electricity and food prices rising, and wages staying the same, fear of how to manage is  taking hold.  Let’s face it, if your budget stays the same, how do you pay all the bills now they have gone up?

About 5 years ago my family hit a point of no money, and to be honest, nothing has improved much financially since then.  But what has changed is our ability to cope with no money, and to learn that however hard it is, we do live in a rich nation, and even with a system that is totally broken, it is 100% better than most countries around the world.  

Through my work in plastic transition, I regularly talk to people from all over the world, including Uganda. They tell me tales of fights over food, and locals who have starved to death. Fighting over food should never, ever happen here in the UK. 

When we are in a state of fear, caused by not knowing how we are going to provide for our loved ones, it can bring out what looks like greed. It is almost impossible to put others first when your mind is plagued with worry over how to cope. I do not blame anyone for trying their best to provide for their family, I have been in that situation, and at times still find myself there. 

Thinking of others has been lost in the stress of modern life; strong communities are too rare these days. But I do believe we can turn this around, by remembering to think of others, and help create an abundance of community. 

My little part in this is The Waterside Food Project, and helping make sure everyone can access at least something to help them get through each day.  What is your part in creating community abundance?

And to the people who use my box – no one needs to be hungry – we will keep doing what we are doing for as long as we can. Please always think of others and only take what you will use, and never fear asking for help if you are in real need.  

I love you all and the joy it brings me to hear your stories of how you are helping others who can’t get to the box. Every time you do this you are creating community abundance.

A full box – it is not this full very often.

Conkers 2022

It’s October, time for conkers !!

My favourite time of year. 

2022 looks like it is going to be a good year for conkers as well as other tree seed collecting. 

It feels like I am reconnecting with old  friends as I travel around the New Forest visiting the  horse chestnut trees I collect conkers from. 

Asking them how they have been over the last year?

How did they cope through the summer, was it good for them?

Are they ready for winter? 

Is there anything they need?

The last question is always answered with please ask the  rest of the humans to stop killing those of  us who share this home with them. 

If you have never been to talk to the trees I urge you to go, have the conversation, and then check in with  yourself, what part you can play in halting the destruction. What is your positive action going to be?

Your action could be to swap even just some of your washing powder or liquid to one that not only does no harm, but actually puts more back into our biosphere. 

October is the month to collect conkers, to give them a wash if they are dirty, and then chop them up, smaller the better. Then it is time to dry them so you can store them all year. For a  family you will need to do around 5 kilos of fresh conkers. How much will last you till next October is down to how many washes you do. 

I will post the link to where to find my instructions on how to make the liquid from them to add to your washing machine in the comments.

If you for any reason are not able to collect and dry your own conkers you can support our regenerative work by purchasing some of our washkers. 

https://watercressqueen.company.site/products/Washkers-conkers-for-washing-your-clothes-p421141597

What calls me to do this every year? I certainly started because we had no income or money and needed to be able to reduce our costs to the absolute minimum if we were going to keep our house. 

I also wanted to live in a way that connected me as much as possible to our natural world, to be as green and as eco friendly as I could be. It seemed as though you needed money to do that, it was out of my reach. 

Now I know that if we look at the  beautiful resources we are gifted by our home ( biosphere) there are many changes we can make that can save us money, save us from harming our world and help us put more back than we take. 

So every year we will collect enough conkers for ourselves, and enough for those who can’t collect conkers but wish to use washkers. We will always make sure we never take more than ⅓ from a tree, we will thank the tree, and continue to commit to growing a minimum of 30 trees a year.

First conkers of 2022 collected 1st October.

The Waterside Clothes Swaps launch.

Clothes swaps – at last!!! 

Been on my list to get going in my area for so long and now they are here!

I love clothes swaps, with a passion. Let’s face it, we all love new clothes, but our planet doesn’t, so clothes swaps are the answer. 

They are also the answer to many other issues we face in our modern society.  So what part do they play in regenerative culture?

On 29th January a team of people came together in the waterside, New Forest UK for the launch of Waterside Clothes swaps.  Under my guidance as the only member of the team who had been to a clothes swap before, and with the help of Natalie Haigh, who is a passionate crafter and bag maker, we wanted to test the water and see who would come. 

The hall was quite small, to keep the costs down for the first one, we then got sponsorship from the waterside women – a local community group to help cover the costs of running the first one.

The volunteers numbered around 15, and everyone got stuck in to help make the day run perfectly! The Waterside Party Kit hire came along, although Katie who runs it spent more time helping out than promoting her party kit, but it becomes addictive seeing what clothes are coming through the door!

So how do we run the clothes swaps? 

During the week before we collect clothes from the community, so some presorting can take place and for those who can’t make it on the day, but wish to contribute. 

In the morning of the event we take clothing donations, we get as many of the clothes on rails as we can, so it has a shopping feel to the swap. 

Once we are open, it is free to come in – all our welcome – and then everything is free, regardless of whether you have anything to swap.  A team of volunteers sort clothes as they come in, and help people find their way round the different sections. A changing room is available, so much fun can be had trying things on!

Teas, coffee, and cakes were also free, and the Waterside Food Project brought along supermarket surplus bread, cakes and flowers, all again free. 

How many things do you go to where it is totally free? 

We did have a donation pot out, a give what you feel approach, and we ended up with just over £200!  I think people really loved the clothes swap. They are asking for the next one. 

So back to regenerative culture.  If we wish to really ‘save the planet’ to ensure this beautiful world of ours, for there to be a place for us within it, we have to dramatically change the way we do things, the way we demand things, and value everything and everyone. 

What does that have to do with clothes? Everything, there are enough pieces of clothing produced each year for each person to have 14 new items – or 100 billion items. Each one involving fossil fuels in the manufacture, even natural fibres, have far more connection to the fossil fuel industries than is commonly recognized. Of course all of these items of clothing are not evenly distributed around the world, with many never ever seeing a brand new piece of clothing with others seeing far more than their fair share. 

We often see talk of food poverty, but very rarely is clothing poverty talked about, but both go hand in hand. The drivers behind social media and fast fashion also can have very serious effects on our mental health. 

If we can change the way we view clothing, and understand its impact on our world and all the lives that inhabit our biosphere we can all win. 

There are far too many issues for me to cover in this blog post, and really I wanted to start by celebrating the success of our first Waterside Clothes swap. Please do some research if you feel you would like to understand more about the impact of textiles. 

And if that feels too much for you, then at least try to make your next purchases from a charity shop, or search out your local clothes swap – and if there are none, MAKE IT HAPPEN in your area!

Soup Dragons

Soup Dragons, sounds interesting – tell me more!

That was my reaction when I heard one of our local parish councils would be starting to run these local community events.  Sounded right up my street and it was!

The very first event was planned for 24th Feb 2022 and I was lucky enough to be chosen to pitch on behalf of The Waterside Food Project. 

This is what we do – https://thewatercressqueen.wordpress.com/2022/02/28/the-waterside-food-project/

The idea is that everyone buys a ticket, gets to listen to 4 pitches and then eat soup. The pitches can be a start up local business, or a community group. Whilst soup is being eaten everyone talks about the pitches and then the votes are cast. £5 from each ticket sale goes towards the prize money and the winning pitch gets the money to help them move forward with their ideas or work. 

As it was the first event we only had 3 of us pitch. Christine Bennett who runs the Healthy Haven garden at the Waterside medical practice. They are creating a beautiful place for people to come and meet outside in the garden. As with any new project they have a long list of things they need help with, if you are able to help them at all contact Christine through the facebook group, they would love to hear from you!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2698592857082670

The room then heard from Ivor, a local resident who writes funny books and paints pictures to sell.  He was hoping to be able to put the prize money into sorting out his garden which has gotten out of hand and is full of brambles. 

And then it was my turn, I am used to public speaking, but this felt really important as I was not doing one of my normal talks, but pitching for the benefit of our community.  

Here is my pitch 

***********************************************************

Hi I am Lucie Mann, known online as The Watercress Queen. 

I run along with my family, New Forest Aquaponics CIC  – a regenerative culture hub challenging the way we impact our biosphere.

I can waffle on about many of our projects for hours, but I only have 4 minutes, and I want to talk about one of the most important parts of our work. 

I was told this presentation should be fun, well I am sorry I don’t think I can find anything funny about food poverty and food waste in the UK.

The Waterside Food project aims to tackle both of these in the local area.  Many people who live on the waterside do not see how much food poverty and inequality we have in the area. Just because it is not seen does not mean it is not there. 

And things are going to get worse. covid , rising cost of living, cost of fuel have all impacted on people’s pockets. Many have to choose between heating and eating. 

The heating is not quite so easy to sort out, but the food we can help with!

What are we doing so far?

At the beginning of 2021 fate brought a small group of local people together, through surplus food collections, and it became an obvious thing to work together to help as many people as possible.   In our core group we have 3 different groups working together, with the waterside food project being one of them.  

One helps a charity and their service users by using unsold flowers to provide learning opportunities and unsold drinks and snacks to raise funds.

The other group works tirelessly and with a dedication second to none  to provide pop up food distribution  across the waterside, connecting with people on a very personal level. Picking up where people may need  financial help, or someone to talk to at a time of need. 

Between us all we identify the best use of the foods, so groups who cook for the homeless, or  other groups who provide food are always offered things they can turn into meals. 

The waterside food project  are at the beginning of setting up community fridges. 

A community fridge is a free and accessible place where the community can access food.  The first one is outside my house, it is a simple box on legs with tins and bread for people to help themselves.  Within a week a friend had set one up in totton, and the really amazing thing is, people are now checking the boxes to see what is there, but also adding food to it to share the food around.  We would like to get more of these up and down the waterside. 

On a slightly larger scale, the next stage will be to get an actual fridge and a freezer in at least one location on the waterside. This will allow foods that need to be chilled or frozen  to be available to prevent waste. At the moment these types of foods are the only ones that we can’t always get out to people. And although we compost them, we really want people fed. 

Food we cannot hand out or simply have far more than we can hand out is  used to feed animals – did you know cows like bread? 

And if it is not suitable for animals then we compost it. over the two weeks of Christmas I composted 100kgs of processed food waste, about 10% of the food collected. This spring the compost  will be used to grow food for the community. 

Where does all this food come from?  All supermarkets have unsold foods, and at the end of the day as a team we take it in turns to go and collect from many of the supermarkets between here and southampton.  If you know of a store that would like to offer us food do get in touch!

Now you may be wondering if we win tonight, what would we spend the money on? 

Well between us we cover a minimum of 168 miles a week , which is around £75 per week providing this service to the local community. 

  Being able to provide fuel cards will make sure we can keep going in these times of rising fuel costs

Next on the list would be Improving and creating more community fridge boxes in the area. 

Our future plans we would like to have access to a kitchen where we can cook and process excess produce – thinking of the 400kgs of carrots and the same of potatoes and brussel sprouts at christmas……….and let’s not mention the 120 fresh turkeys ( thankfully all turkeys were eaten!)  

And how wonderful if we could find a place to teach cooking, to complement teaching growing food, and community composting. 

The very big picture for New Forest Aquaponics is to create a community owned farm which would be able to house all of these elements, you will see information on the tables about this, but until then can you help us? 

I hope you enjoy your evening, I might just have to recommend the watercress soup !

******************************************************

I am really pleased to say we won! The pot came out at  £185 which will be used to support the fuel costs. We will do this by purchasing fuel cards to share with the group we work with. 

With the rising costs at the fuel pumps this won’t last long so if you would like to help us we would be very grateful.  

And to make sure that the soup dragons effect goes further than just one night, Christine and some of the volunteers are coming to visit New Forest Aquaponics CIC to see our work. We both felt it would be great to see how we can support each other on an ongoing basis. 

Having met Ivor previously I had already seen his garden, and it really does need a sort out. So we are going to put together a team to do a garden makeover Ground Force style for him.  Ivor is very excited about this. If you would like to join us we will be fixing a date and sharing as an event on Facebook very soon. 

A huge thank you to Helen Hythe and Hythe and Dibden parish council for putting on the event, just what the community needs!

The next soup dragon event is 26th March, it will be wonderful to see who pitches next, I hope to see you there!

The Waterside Food Project

Food is central to life, without good nutrition we fail to thrive, for many reasons the UK is in crisis around food. Seems a silly thing to say, after all we are a rich western nation, but with depleted soils, overuse of industrial chemical fertilisers, the drive for ever increasing profits around food, ready meals, palm oil and other fillers, laziness on our part, climate in crisis, and that’s before we get to poverty, and the wastage of food that seems to be part of everyday life. 

At New Forest Aquaponics CIC everything we do connects to food in some way or other, after all we grow food!  Even though at the time of writing we are looking for our permanent home, that is not stopping us progressing with our work. Let me tell you about The Waterside Food Project. 

This part of our work will cover 

Food waste, collecting surplus and unsold food from supermarkets.

Food poverty, getting the food we collect handed out to those in need. 

Growing Food, encouraging others to have a go at growing some of their food. 

Cooking, inspiring more cooking and less takeaways. 

Knowledge, empowering people to understand where and how their food gets to them. 

Compost, we compost anything that cannot be used by people or animals to ensure no waste at all.  And of course that takes us back to growing food!

It was by chance that four families have found themselves working together on the first of these issues, the food waste. Starting with just one day a week, and one supermarket, to 7 days a week and 6 supermarkets collected from at different intervals. 

As a working group we have 3 different groups at our core, New Forest Aquaponics CIC is just one small part of the surplus food group. One is a charity and has service users, who benefit from the flowers and snacks.  The other group  does an amazing job by handing out food at pop ups reaching 40 to 50 plus people a week. Between us we work out the best route for the food to have maximum positive impact. 

We also share with groups who cook for others, two who cook for the homeless, one cooking meals for families during school holidays, providing ingredients to make cakes for fundraising, and food bags for emergency needs.  It really does show when we work together truly great things can happen, and we can strengthen communities. 

Community fridges take on many forms, we are trying to get a community fridge local to us. While we are working on finding a suitable place to house a fridge and freezer that people will be able to access, we have a food box outside our house. In it is always bread, and then tins and packets from the surplus food collections, and if possible fresh produce. Sometimes we get huge amounts of one type of food, sharing out over many routes makes sure it will get used. 

Slowly people are beginning to put foods they will not use into the box, we have many neighbours who use the local food library  – paying a minimal amount for a huge bag of foods, but with no choice as to what is in the bag – they often get far more of one thing than they would ever use themselves, or foods they don’t know how to use, or like. Instead of those foods sitting in the cupboard they can share with others, and take foods they will use and eat.

A friend was inspired to set up a box in Totton, and another is being planned for Hythe. We hope we can get a network of them going across the area. 

The food boxes can also be a way for seed, seedling, and plant sharing and a few have already asked if they will be able to bring home grown produce to the box. 

The answer is always a huge big YES, and if there is lots we can help get fresh foods to others who might not always be able to have access to it. Of course this will only work with community engagement, I am looking forward to seeing how this develops 🙂 

The composting part of the project is developing well, we have 7 pallet sized compost bins for any vegetables and fruits that cannot be used by people or animals, and cooked and processed foods are being composted using bokashi composting methods Over a two week period at Christmas we bokashi over 100kgs of processed foods, that was around 10% of all of the food we collected and handed out during Christmas.   Things we were able to get out to help people included 120 fresh turkeys, 400kg of carrots, and the same of potatoes and brussel sprouts! 

One of the two cars of turkeys at Christmas. it took 3 car loads to deal with the veg. Everything got eaten, many people who got a turkey had not been able to afford to buy one this Christmas.

If you’re wondering why the shops thought the vegetables were no good?  Christmas branded plastic bags…………and what happens when we don’t collect? It all goes in the bin. 

Composting is a perfect community action, one we can all take part in.  This year we will be running courses on how to compost in your own home, using the best method to suit your situation, and also help others get community composting sites up and running in the waterside.

The cooking side of the project will take a little time, but if you know of anyone with appropriate skills who would be interested in helping move this side forward please put them in touch with us.

We are just one little part of the cog in a whole system surrounding food. Huge numbers of people across the UK are doing their bit to make the system a little bit better There needs to be a gear change on how we as a society think about, grow, and consume food. I hope our work can go a little way to shifting towards a more regenerative system that is fairer to people and our biosphere. 

Can you be part of that shift too?

The Virtually Real Forest

Children naturally take care of things precious to them, a favorite teddy, a special pet, and so often a treasured stick ( I have yet to meet a child who does not wish to bring a stick home from a walk in a forest!) 

As adults it is easy to forget the connections we have with trees, the importance of those sticks we brought home as a child, it becomes too easy and cheap to chop  down that tree that’s seen to be in the way. The value of the tree gets forgotten. 

Tree planting exercises with children are run every year. There are many really good schemes to get children to help plant trees, and thankfully we continue to see those initiatives increase. If you have taken part or run one of these projects you will know we either see hopeful little hands pop an acorn in a pot and stare with expectancy to get it to grow, or dig a hole for a sapling’s roots in the middle of a field far away from the child’s home. 

But then what happens? 

How does that child connect with that tree, how does it know the journey the tree takes? How will the child watch the tree grow with them, how will the child help look after the tree in the long term? And let’s face it, children really love looking after precious things. 

Thinking about the experiences we have witnessed in our lives, what happens next we believe is a vital step in how children and the adults they grow into interact with trees and our biosphere in the long term.  Teaching the value of trees to the individual can only truly be achieved if we can create deep connections with trees. How do we do that if the trees that are planted the child never gets to see again?

David Green, part of the New Forest Aquaponics CIC core team, planted trees as part of the ‘plant a tree in ‘73, plant one more in ‘74 ‘ tree planting campaign.  One of the trees he planted was in his parents back garden. A silver birch that grew  big and strong.  All through his childhood he could see and connect with that tree everyday, he had other trees that he had planted around the same time, but they were all in pots, just the silver birch was in the ground. 

When he moved out to start his adult life, David took the trees in pots with him, but the Silver birch had to stay. It didn’t take long for his dad, not known for being a fan of anything alive and green, to chop it down, ending that tree’s life. 

The trees in pots are all still safe and growing, doing what trees do best, helping us breathe. 

It is this experience and the desire to help create deeper connections with trees, that lead us  to get children looking after trees at home. From this the Virtually Real Forest was born. It is a forest of trees grown in pots. Each tree will be registered on our database, so the tree can be tracked as an individual tree, information on the life of that tree can be recorded.  Once the guardian of the tree is able to put down roots themselves at a permanent home, the tree can be planted in the ground. 

The trees will be given to people via workshops on trees, starting with oak seedlings, at a workshop all about wonderful oak trees. Then as we grow more species we will have workshops on trees in general, or tailored to individual species. 

The database will show which areas the trees are growing,  and how well they are doing, and where they eventually end up. 

New Forest Aquaponics CIC hopes to gain funding to provide larger pots, and bioactive compost as the trees grow, so there will be no financial restraints on the tree being cared for.  If the tree can no longer be kept and there is nowhere to plant the tree, it will always be welcome to come back to our care. 

Workshops will be provided by the amazing team at Blackwell Bushcraft CIC, starting in Hampshire, please get in touch if your group would like to be involved via the contact button on New Forest Aquaponics .

If you have a trees and would like to add it too the forest, please let us know you wish to take part, fill in the form so we know about your tree and we will allocate you a registration number. Register your tree

The little palm we grew.

David has a love of big exotic and spiky plants. Our front garden at home is full of them, all shapes and sizes, and the garden is full!

So when Dave found a  baby Washingtonia robusta palm at B & Q in the reduced section it just slipped into the trolley. Needing tender loving care to get this tiny palm that had not been watered or cared for back to health would be a challenge we thought. But as we were just starting out on our journey of aquaponic farming, we had a secret  weapon. We had all the quarantine systems left over from our ornamental fish shop, we had added plenty of plant trays and were seeing what would grow and what wouldn’t inside our huge greenhouse. 

The poor little palm was plonked into one of the plant trays and left to get on with absorbing as many nutrients and as much water as it could. Would a palm tree grow in an aquaponic set up, would it be too much water, would it cope if it got really cold? All of these things we would find out over the next few years. 

After the first year we were confident it was going to do well, in fact it seemed to be doing really well. It was in one of the raised plant trays, fed by our main system, stocked with sturgeon,  grass carp and koi, all really heavy feeders. By the third year it was beginning to touch the ceiling and was going to need to be moved down to floor level. 

Now that sounds easy – just lift it down. But being grown aquaponically meant if we took it out of the system, we would have to replace it with the same amount of plants able to use the nutrients up to keep the water healthy for the fish.  It was also really interesting to see just how big we could grow the palm. 

Work started to change the plumbing to allow the palm to be on the floor and still be in the main system. 

Dave spent some time making sure he had got everything ready, a cut down IBC as a pot, and all the plumbing to make sure the water flows correctly round the system. 

Whilst he was getting all of this ready the metal stand the plant tray was on collapsed! 

Panic stations! 

Our older son Robbie and Dave had to get it moved.  If you have ever handled a big palm you will know just how dense and so how heavy they are to move. This palm has 3 stems which at this point had grown into a mighty 6 ft at the crown of the tallest stem.  You can see how hard it was to move from the video – we have edited out the swearing…..

Fast forward to 2021 and we have a couple of  issues. The palm has done so well and grown so fast, proving how well trees do in aquaponics, that it is now touching the top of the greenhouse.  

We are worried it will damage the greenhouse glass. 

The second issue is that New forest aquaponics CIC is going to have to find a new home for our aquaponic farm and we cannot guarantee we will find anywhere with the space to house the palm, or have the finance to take it with us. It will need a hiab to move it,  which is not cheap to hire. 

So we have decided to see if anyone would like to buy our little palm!  At this size they adapt well to being moved and as long as it is well watered will be able to be planted in the ground. 

We will be very sorry to see the palm go, it has been a good friend and a great talking point with visitors. 

We have managed to find a little one, the same size as when we got this one, so it will be interesting to see how quickly it grows this time. 

We have put together a short video of the palm, it is old footage we took when we moved it to floor level. It is now so big it is impossible to get a good picture to show how big it has got as the greenhouse is so very full of fish and other plants!


If you would like to make a sensible offer for the palm – remembering that the money goes towards supporting our regenerative non profit please get in touch watercressqueen1@gmail.com.

Genius Cleaning cloths

A little bit of zero waste genius.

When I had my first son 18 years ago I was very determined to use cloth nappies, which I did, along with cloth wipes.  Of course I did the same for my second son. 

The reusable wipes were the thing that really inspired me, cloth wipes can be for anything not just cute little faces!

But super soft baby wipes are not very good for cleaning the dishes – just not abrasive enough for stuck on burnt food. So I had a think…….

Using what I have is a principle I stick to as much as possible, and my first cleaning cloths were made from towelling and fleece, and as I did not have an overlocker I had to sew and turn and then sew again. They were bulky and not easy to make and of course fleece is a shedder of micro fibres, I would not dream of using fleece now for anything. 

I needed to think again, so using what I had I turned to t-shirt material, bingo! They work on any surface – soft side for polishing and rough side for scrubbing.  At this point I was just making them for our own use and for friends and family. 

Not long after I had my second son I was able to afford an overlocker and that changed everything !

The cloths became super quick to make and so they could be made and sold in bulk. I then got involved in clothes swaps, and was able to source huge quantities of old t-shirts that no one was going to wear any more, towels sourced from charity shops that were overwhelmed with them and we were in business. 

Genius Cleaning Cloths

Everyone who was given some would utter ‘oh that’s genius’  hence the name – Genius Cleaning Cloths.  And when a school cleaner ordered enough to keep a whole school clean to save on using the planet’s resources as well as the school budget, production increased yet again. 

So apart from being made from upcycled materials what else makes these genius cleaning cloths?

Did I mention that I still have some of the ones I made around 15 years ago? Did I mention they can be washed over and over again – even on hot washes if needed. Or that they can go in your home composting when you finally finish with them? 

We don’t use labels or any other unnecessary packaging and they are completely plastic free!

And they are not perfectly rectangular, we don’t have seconds, working to make the best use of the materials if they need to be a bit shorter, or if I sew a little wonky down one edge we still love them, they still do a perfectly good job. 

Rethinking the need for perfection

We sell them in packs of 10 for £6, to reduce shipping impact they can be ordered in sets of 3 or 6 packs of ten.  

If you would like to try some for yourself you can order via this link https://watercressqueen.company.site/products/Genius-Cleaning-Cloths-in-packs-of-10-p421105244

Any questions please do email me . 


If your local zero waste store would like to be a stockist drop me a email, most zero waste stores who stock them sell them singularly, or you can sell them in packs of ten.

Even the super clean and fussy mother in law would use them when she was still with us.

Fawley Tower

The view has changed from my bedroom window, I watched it change through the rain, my window open so I could hear the change happen.  7am 31st October 2021.  

So what was the change and why am I feeling so sad?

Today the Fawley power station chimney came down.  198 metres or 650ft of chimney who’s building was completed in 1969 (same year as I was born) and commissioned as part of  the oil fired power station in 1971. It has been a landmark ever since, the lights that shone from the top showed the way home, if you were lost – you just found the tower and you knew you could get home. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawley_Power_Station#cite_note-24

Falcons have been nesting there for many years.  I heard them scream this morning as they flew away.

Video credit Paula Cripps

So why do I feel so sad? After all we need clean energy, oil power needs to be a thing of the past,  the power station hasn’t been used since 2013, apart from lots of media projects like star wars using the control room as sets.  You would think I would be pleased to see a relic of co2 producing power gone….. 

But the power station is being replaced by a huge development  – here is a quote from the website 

The Masterplan

Our ambition is to build one of the most beautiful small towns in England. A place with solid economic purpose, that has been very deliberately designed to mix jobs, homes and services.

Fawley Waterside will be a place that is attractive to both people and commerce. This new sustainable community will be home to around 4,000 people with a significant proportion working close by. It will be defined by the beauty of its buildings and places, countryside and coast.

You can read the rest of it on the companies website http://future.fawleywaterside.co.uk/the-masterplan/

You will note they want to build a small town, not just on the site of the power station but over a larger footprint.  To be fair to the people behind the plans, this could be anywhere in the UK. My sadness is not just for this area and is not just about what they are doing, we are doing this all over the UK, as well as the rest of the world, and it is damaging to everything that calls this planet its home. 

Let’s look at why – There seems to be a belief that we need new housing – in the same way we have been building square boxes, with high prices, for years. .  Do we need new housing or do we need more homes? There is a huge difference. 

There is a belief that new jobs will be created,  new shops and other community resources will be built and improvements to the surrounding roads will happen as part of the development. Please call me skeptical but I will believe it when I see it.  Of course the question is, do we need them or are they the sweeteners used to make us approve of the plans. Will they get built or like the planned use of the tower as a tourist attraction get swept by the by as too costly, too difficult or what other excuse was made at the time – after planning permission was given to the building of a town between two very small villages. 

Now if we are insisting we need more housing, could it be done in a way that does less harm? A way  does not replace the untouched wild land – a place rich in biodiversity, with a managed ‘space for nature’?  Can we build using more natural materials that are truly renewable and fit within the circles of the world, adding more by their use than we take?  

I doubt it, there is one major driving factor behind this and all other developments in the UK, and most of the world. That factor has always been greed. 

If we plan our actions with care towards the biosphere, everyones and every species home,  care for people follows naturally. When we act with care before greed, everyone benefits not just the few.  Care does not stop profit – it spreads it more evenly. 

If you see this happening where you live and you think it is not right, please take action, make your voice heard, find others in your community and act before it is too late. I wish we had.

Update – the day before the tower came down my son Robbie and his friend went to see the tower one last time. The weather was very different, and the Ahoy Shipmate team were filming, and asked for their thoughts.

You can now watch that video on Youtube https://youtu.be/mswPaepDZfw

A wheelchair for Sarah

Joel and Sarah

You may have seen from previous posts, that New Forest Aquaponics CIC is working with Joel Odongo in Eastern Uganda and TANU.  This bit of help I am very pleased to have been involved in. 

One of the people that TANU ( Transformation Agency Network Uganda ) is supporting is Sarah Ajiko. She is 28 and trained in tailoring.  At the moment she has been living with her grandparents, in the Teso region of Eastern Uganda. 

She has a disability that she was born with.  Persons with disabilities account for 8.5 percent of Ugandans. Most live on UGX 2,400 per person per day which is equal to 50p.  The Ugandan government has just produced The persons with Disabilities Act 2020, with the aim of getting more help to people like Sarah. I asked Joel who runs TANU about it and how much help was really available. Joel is a very polite man, I cannot write his reply. 

TANU now have built their youth training rooms, and are excited to start the next phase which is training the young persons who come to them with skills that they can use to earn a living to support themselves, and families and TANU so they can continue helping others to develop skills. 

Sarah has amazing sewing skills, and has the ability to teach the others to sew. using a hand cranked sewing machine. But to do that she needs to have a wheelchair, her grandfather cannot carry her for ever. And she will need to move to TANU from her village, so a plan to achieve this has been put in place. 

I am super pleased to report the first stage of this plan has been achieved with the help of a few people here in the UK. 

Joel had applied for a wheelchair for Sarah from Father Heart Mobility Ministry – who give out wheelchairs for free, check out their work http://fathersheartmobility.org/home

The only problem was that they fit the wheelchairs to each person, making sure they know how to care for the chairs and that the fit is comfortable. That meant a journey of 300 plus miles each way.  To make this achievable for Sarah, they needed to be able to take the faster, better, safer coach.  This was going to cost them far more money than they had, and they had already delayed the journey once and stood the chance of missing out on a chair for Sarah.

So I put out a request on FB, and a few amazing people donated to the cost of the journey. 

Sarah got her first wheelchair at the age of 28.  Thank you to those who made this possible.

On the coach to get the chair.

Joel and Sarah travelled the first day, they treated themselves to bread for lunch, a real treat!  Traffic was bad so they arrived too late to find somewhere to stay. It is not deemed to be safe to walk around many parts of Uganda at night especially in a strange place. So Joel made Sarah comfortable on the coach station seats and made sure she was safe for the rest of the night.  Being in town at first light meant they were first in the queue and by 11 am she had her chair and was fully fitted and shown how to care for it. 

Joel and I talk a lot via fb messenger, sometimes he is sad and worried, sometimes he is happy, but nothing like the call I got from both of them as she received her chair. 

Imagine someone in the UK not getting a wheelchair till they were 28? 

Now think about how much this will change her life. Not only does Sarah have the dignity of being off the ground without someone holding her, she can come to Tanu and work and teach others with the aim of being able to support themselves as a group and individuals.  

Changing Sarah’s life is helping change the lives of those around her. 

Tanu are making ramps to make sure Sarah can get into all the buildings, and have been collecting materials to make her a small home at the skills centre.  Normally for homes they use rammed earth floors, they have made one in the skills centre, but for Sarah and her chair they would like to be able to give her a concrete floor. 

If you would like to help with the next stage of Sarah’s journey the cost of the cement is around £45. You can make a donation here.   

 https://donorbox.org/cement-for-tanu-uganda

We pass all monies directly to TANU, once her home is built we will need to get her a hand cranked machine as hers was stolen last year. Any extra towards the cost (import tax and delivery of the machine has to be paid) would be a huge help.