Compost

Composting – nature’s way of keeping the planet healthy. 

Just imagine if nothing ever broke down? We would be in a real mess…….

Our biosphere works in such amazing ways with processes to keep itself and us healthy and clean.  It does this by breaking down all natural materials, and reusing them in an endless cycle. 

When us humans get involved it becomes composting – and although it is super simple, if it is organic it will break down to feed the earth – we like to make it complicated!

Composting gets forgotten as something we should do ourselves. We chop down the growth in our gardens, pay for it to be taken away, and then spend more money buying compost wrapped in plastic…….

Although it is very simple to create your own composting, because of the way we live, we need to look at all the different techniques, so we use the best for our homes or communities. And composting can help rebuild our soils and space for other species to live, however small. 

As part of our regenerative work we will be running community composting, teaching how to compost, how to use different methods depending on the situation, combining methods, and using the compost to grow good food (we use decoupled aquaponics as well) and build soil health. 

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

This pictures is page that explains our working ethos around compost  – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

Please do fill in the survey – it is really important we can show we have the support to get to the next stage. follow the link or use the QR code

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Fish

Ever since humans have watched other species eating fish – birds, mammals, reptiles, insects and microorganisms,  we have got ourselves wet in the process of catching fish.

Then we learned how to trap fish to make it easier to catch them, then we learnt the amazing skills of breeding fish. 

More than any other animal the conditions have to be right for this to be successful. Fish react really badly when the water quality, oxygen and temperature is not right, at best they are sluggish, at worst they  die.   When we are talking fish, they can all die in a couple of hours!

Modern fish farming methods are increasingly becoming high tec, monitors for this and that parameter, all reducing the need for contact with the water and the fish. The skill of being able to use your senses to prevent problems before they affect the fish are being lost, so many young people starting to work with fish who can’t tell through observation that there is an issue. Did you know you can smell if water is good for the fish?

We have the skills and knowledge to share with communities to bring aquaponics into their community food growing projects.  It is really important to us that the right aquatic species are kept in relation to the space available.  We will have different models of different set ups to teach good husbandry  – which will produce good plant foods grown without stress to plants  or fish. 

Of course you do not have to eat the fish, they can just be kept as companions, fish bring healing by their presence. Good water energizes our food, good water keeps the fish healthy and happy.

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about. 

Sharing our working ethos, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

These two pictures are the two pages that explain our working ethos around fish  – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

And our survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

Please do fill in the survey – it is really important we can show we have the support to get to the next stage. follow the link or use the QR code 

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Aquaponics – what’s that then?

Aquaponics – What’s that?

Aquaponics is a food production system that combines aquaculture – raising fish, crayfish prawns etc – with hydroponics – growing plants in water – whereby the nutrient rich aquaculture water is fed to hydroponic grown plants

As existing hydroponic and aquaculture farming techniques form the basis for all aquaponic systems, the size, complexity, and types of foods grown in an aquaponic system is really only limited by imagination. 

Aquaponics is not new, it is one of the oldest farming methods, one practised by indigous cultures around the world for thousands of years. It is another one of those skills that has been forgotten. Our aim is to bring those skills to life in a way that will work to help regenerate communities. 

Imagine your local community farm being able to provide you with fresh and tasty vegetables and fish. 

Imagine your food being produced in a way that puts more back than it takes out. 

Imagine your food being climate positive, local and good for you!

And it goes without saying that our method of aquaponics puts the fish, their health and welfare at the very heart of what we do.  Teaching the skills we have lost and learning new ones along the way.  Our methods are chemical free, growing tasty nutrient dense food, I can’t wait for you to taste it!

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

These two pictures are the two pages that explain our working ethos around Aquaponics  – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

Please do fill in the survey – it is really important we can show we have the support to get to the next stage. follow the link or use the QR code 

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Why?

New Forest Aquaponics cic want to build a community owned farm.

Why?

My wake up call. 

I have always been aware of the damage we are doing to our biosphere, and ourselves, what I hadn’t quite been aware of was what was happening to our communities.

Whilst I had been busy working, and bringing up my boys, with my head in my own bubble of interests something had happened………..

I didn’t realize what that was till I had my stroke, when not one single person knocked on our door…….

We had lived on our road for 21 years at the time, and it was quite obvious that something serious had happened in our family, but yet no one even asked if we were okay. 

As I recovered and started talking about this to people, I  found that although people have lots of friends, most of those now are connected via social media or clubs and very few met with people who lived locally to them.

Now I know that that’s not true about everyone, some are lucky to have really good local connections, but others have even less and don’t even have the supporting groups on social media as back up. 

The intention is to create a place where people can come and find connection. And yes for many that will still be online, but we are setting up our own communication channels that will feel more inclusive,  the aim  to connect online with in person.

By looking at the bigger circle of how all of this connects together – food, community, lifeskills, and all of the ways these inteconnet and bring them all together we can start the work of real forward change to a community that puts back more than it takes out. That heals and nurtures, both us and our home, the biosphere. 

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

This picture is the third page of our working ethos   – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic  (one member one vote) share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. https://forms.gle/gHNjuYggDpJAnMTs5

New Forest Aquaponics Working Ethos

I would like to introduce you to the New Forest Aquaponics working ethos. 

This document is the foundation of our journey and we would love it if you would like to come with us on this path of regenerative culture.

What does that mean?   

After spending time as a family healing and recovering from some quite traumatic events we are ready to take a huge leap and share what we have learned with others.

What is always at the heart of recovery?  Food! 

Good, healthy, local, nutrient dense fresh food. 

What do you need to access good food like that? 

A farm, and in this case an aquaponics farm, in fact a regenerative culture based farm. 

Er a what? I hear you say? 

Took me a while to work it out as well and I am living it! 

Everyone talks about sustainability  – but sustainability means to stay or keep the same – and I don’t want to keep the same! 

If we all just keep doing what we are doing our biosphere is going to continue to suffer, life for all – that’s anything that is made up of atoms within our biosphere in case you are wondering what’s included in the biosphere – will get worse. 

Is it just about the way our climate is changing? No, it is how we as a species are on a path of destruction of ourselves and taking everything with us. 

Can we change the world? No but we can help create a better way of living for all. 

Inclusive, thoughtful, kind, healthy,  – regenerative. 

To do that we need somewhere to act as a demonstration model of the hows.  

And that is what this series of posts are about.  

Sharing our working ethos, so you can understand the why, to inspire you to be part of that journey. 

These two pictures are the first two pages  of our working ethos – you can read the rest on our website ( the open source development of the website is part of bringing community to work together ) www.newforestaquaponics.com 

We also have a survey which we would love to get your opinions on how much support we will have for a democratic (one member one vote) share offer to be part of our regenerative farm community. 

Please do fill in the survey – it is really important we can show we have the support to get to the next stage. foloow the link or use the QR code

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Washkers the most environmentally way to wash your clothes

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

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 🙂

Missunderstanding

#plasticfreejuly21

I spend a lot of time talking to people about plastic. I wish I didn’t have to, but we seem to have a bit of a problem with it so I will keep talking about it until that problem goes away – or my dying day, and sadly I think I know which will come first…….

Ecobrick trainers here in the UK often comment between themselves how hard it is to get people to actually listen to what we are saying, or read the huge amount of information we have on plastic and why we need to take personal responsibility for the plastic that comes into our hands. 

I have been trying to understand why we are struggling here in the UK to get the conversation beyond passing the results of our plastic consumption to others to deal with –  the shorter name for that is recycling btw.

And last night on the course I am doing on soil health ( soil advocacy with Kiss the ground) one of the other students came up with a phrase I hadn’t  heard before 

Committed to misunderstanding

And yes I think that’s the why , the public are totally and utterly committed to misunderstanding, and I am not even sure it matters what the subject is, people just don’t want to think in depth, and question, and research anything.

So why is this and what is the connection to plastic and ‘recycling’ or industrial downcycling as I prefer to call it. 

For a long time now we have been told that ‘recycling’ is the answer, and for some items it is, aluminium for example, tin cans, cardboard ( to a certain extent ) and in more recent times we have been told plastic is ‘recyclable’ as well. 

But we  know  that it isn’t, that plastic ‘recycling’ is more complicated than that, and that I think is where the ‘committed to misunderstanding’ comes in.  

If we remain committed to misunderstanding we don’t need to think about, or research, or listen to anyone else. Those all require effort, whereas keeping on as we are, is the easy option. 

It is not just with plastic we take the easy option, it seems to be with everything, and that means others in our biosphere suffer.

This signed picture hangs on my wall to make sure our family always remembers to make the effort to understand

And who doesn’t want the easy option?

Don’t let August 1st be when you take the easy options again!

You can find out more about ecobricks on the Global ecobrick Alliance website – start with the FAQ’s and we will lead you through the journey. www.ecobricks.org/FAQs

And do check out www.kisstheground.com

Our Journey with ecobricks and aquaponics.

Why I put nothing in my recycling except tins…..

1 April 2020|Ecobricks

Why I put Nothing but Tins in my Recycling

So your passionate about saving the world from plastic? Surely you recycle everything you can? I am often asked this question

Well no I don’t,  I am working towards living my life in a very different way, taking inspiration from how things used to be along with some very wise people from around the world. 

I have always been a bit of a hippy, and always felt that the way we lived was wasteful and it felt as though the only way to avoid this was to be a hoarder, keeping everything “in case it will be useful”- and then that has its own issues, I have had to clear hoarders homes who keep everything for a rainy day and I don’t want that for my children. Nor do I wish to live that way.

I used to recycle everything, and believed as most people like to think, that I was quite good at it.

Most people in the UK have the ability to recycle tins, glass, paper & card 

And these processes are fairly straight forward, with a high percentage of recycling happening – ie a tin can become a tin, a glass bottle can become a glass bottle. And it is easy to get right, put the glass with the glass etc. 

I remember the start of glass bottle banks in 1977, and slowly we have been provided with many ways for the result of our consumption to be whisked away from us so we do not have to give a second thought to what happens with it  – the magic recycling fairy will wave a magic wand…..

Let’s look at the recycling  – or to give its correct name – reprocessing of plastic.

To be truly circular plastic would have to be able to become oil again, back to its original form which of course can’t happen as plastic is made of one part of oil ( we are also now using gas from fracking ) – the once waste part  – now turned into a resource, IF used wisely……..

The journey  of the oil goes from the rigs collecting the  oil  – to the refinery – to the factory – into the products we use ( how long for ) and then we pass them on to where?

Depending on where you are in the world will depend on the exact route  into the biosphere.

– burning in fires or incinerators gets the toxins into the biosphere.     Fires directly,  incinerators indirectly.

– landfill or open dumps a very quick route to the biosphere

–  or back through factories and processing plants where we have no way of knowing how careful they will be, a huge exercise in trust

I am sure you have all seen the numbers on plastic to tell you what type of plastic it is, all of which need to be processed using more resources to become something else. At the moment this system be it council run  – via our bin collections or through our own actions via collection schemes is all geared up to make money, and to support our consumerism. It all has the magic reprocessing fairy waving a wand to take the responsibility from our hands.  Her wand takes a huge amount of energy and biospheres resources to wave.

Each time plastic is reprocessed it is in effect downcycling to end up where?

Trees are a good way to look at how nature works in a simple form, when a tree loses its leaves they fall within 10 metres or so of the tree, they decompose back into the soil and provide nutrients for the tree to grow its leaves next year. Our biosphere is a wonderful clever system. 

When did I stop sending things for reprocessing?

I live in the New Forest and we have a set number of council bin bags given to us each year.  We have bags  – plastic of course because the forest is very pretty and a tourist destination and wheelie bins would look unsightly apparently

Black ones for general use, and clear for recycling, they don’t take many things  – 6 in all cans, tins, PET plastic bottles, aerosols, paper and card.  Plus a glass bottle box.  And I tried to be good with what I put in, making sure I got it right, and then slowly I realised that things were not as they seemed. Our black bags go for incineration, and so do large amounts of our reprocessing bags. The council have tried to tell us it is just when they are contaminated, but then it was found out that if they ran out of room for the reprocessing bags or they ran out of things to burn, the reprocessing was sent to the incinerator. This happens with other councils as well I have been told.

Christmas day 2017 I discovered ecobricks, I saw a picture on facebook, and saw the amount of plastic in my living room, and something clicked, I made my first one, and that sent me on a journey of living differently. I have become an ecobrick trainer. I run workshops all over the country and have looked at people’s plastic consumption. It horrifies me, and made me realize how we had changed our consumption already as a family. We have almost no income  – life events and along with being self employed meant we had already changed our shopping habits through lack of money. 

So as a family we had already cut out all the beige plastic wrapped pretend food from the middle isles of supermarkets.  But a few things persisted. Gradually as our family ecobrick adventure took place and we embedded the ecobricking as part of our normal daily routines  we were able to explore in more detail all aspects of the leftovers of our consumption.  Our food consumption had become the component parts – as in, we cook from scratch, and our lack of income had got us out of the habit of buying anything that wasn’t a total necessity. 

One thought I hold close to me when I am tempted to buy something I don’t need is 

“There are people in the world who do not have the privilege to express greed. “

The rules we now live with in our family are 

Consume less

Avoid plastic

Go organic – as in only things that can become part of the biosphere again

Ecobrick

But I felt I needed to go further, to really understand what my personal impact  is, and I wasn’t totally sure how, just buying something that was organic – as in not plastic – felt like it was adding to the problem.  I constantly get people saying to me if we all change just one thing it adds up to a big impact……..

One thing didn’t feel like enough, so I sought inspiration elsewhere

I remembered an essay I had read during my ecobrick training and went back and read it again and again, and then I was lucky to have an in depth conversation with the author Russel Maier,  I knew that this was the way I wanted to live my life, it was the thing that made sense.

Ayyew, a way of living within the biosphere 

As Russell states  

“It became clear to me that this was an important Igorot virtue, a word used to describe the attribution of value to the tighter cycling of an object.  The closest we have in English is ‘thriftiness’– but its emphasis on saving money, and slightly derogatory connotation mean it is not the same. Ayyew, is entirely positive and exults and praises the maximizing of cycles of utility.”

We have become so far removed from our connection to living naturally,  things that we just “did “ as the circles of life turned have long been forgotten.

We wrap up our children so they are protected from our biosphere and live a  life afraid of connection. If we are to solve the many problems we have with anxiety and mental health we need to find our place again. 

From Russels essay – 

Children are encouraged to be more Ayyew and finish their meal down to the last grain of rice — not because it will be ‘waste’, but to respect their place in the cycles of harvest, season and sun that made the rice possible. Sure, the leftover food could be given to the pigs.  However, the cycles of life are even more enriched when the rice is eaten by a human, who can then tend the cycles of the pig and garden.  It’s a subtle, yet powerful, distinction and affirmation.  This exultation of Ayyew, leads to not only to the prioritization of  maximizing ecological cycles in Igorot culture — it enables the Igorot to know their place in the cycles, and work towards enriching them at every turn.’

Sounds idyllic and maybe impossible to apply to our modern lives? Well that became my challenge! 

It was important to me that I needed to be responsible for everything that left our lives  – I had to be able to trust where the result of our living went, I had to know what effect it would have long term on our biosphere.

I was already ecobricking plastic, so I started there, re-examining the plastic that was coming into the house, and what we did with it.  We eat lots of cheese, it comes in plastic, so now we select the bags that are resealable, these get washed and used as sandwich bags over and over again, or as freezer bags, and only when they can no longer be used as bags they will be ecobricked.  

This is just one example of many of how to reuse the plastic before it is ecobricked. 

I ecobrick because I know where the plastic is, I trust myself and my family to look after the ecobricks and to use them responsibly. The plastic becomes useful and valuable to us as a family instead of passing it on to others who may not be careful with it. 

Cardboard, paper, organic materials like food peelings, hair and fur, egg shells, tea leaves all get composted. I am lucky that running New Forest Aquaponics gives me space for lots of compost bins  – 5 pallet sized bins. 

Cooked food waste. The solution for this is a work in progress as we still need to refine some of the process but we will be using black soldier flies to eat leftover cooked or non compostable food. Black soldier flies can eat anything, and once they have pupated they can be fed to chickens and more importantly to us, fish. 

Clothing – everything is 2nd hand, as a family we buy no new clothing. The only exception is shoes,  My shoes are all from the charity shop but my partner has size 15 feet and my older son is a size 13 already, these sizes  just do not appear in charity shops! But we have given a lot of thought as to how we can minimize the impact of our footwear with wellies being turned into planting spaces, and out clothes have repairs on top of repairs

I could go on – but you will have far better results if you work out the things you can do and how you can do them from your heart. It is your responsibility how you impact our biosphere 

This should lead you to AYYEW !

You will notice there are some words missing from blog post

Trash –  Waste –  Rubbish

As Russell Maier says 

“The words ‘trash’ and ‘waste’ are essentially linear judgments.  The act of “trashing” an object is a condemnation. We are judging the object to be worthless and no longer fit for a place in our world.  Is there any difference between a piece of plastic before it has served its purpose, and after? The molecules and atoms are all still the same. The only difference is the word “trash” we’ve labelled it with. 

A glance at the highly evolved civilizations that came before us, and in particular those still with us, shows us that solving the pollution crisis, has little to do with technology and way more to do with our way of looking at the world.”

Let’s be positive in our thoughts towards our biospheres resources. 

I went looking for some slides to illustrate the negativity of the words trash etc.

All the ones I found were like this one,  what does it tell us about our view of the world that the words environment, ecology and conservation and mixed in with all that negativity 

Change the words, change the story.

When you need a little help

June 2019

This weekend saw me have a rant in our Facebook group for New Forest Aquaponics, I don’t often do that but I needed help and I get so frustrated that we seem to struggle to get people to help at this end of our project – the hard work messy part – I know we will get people to help harvest food when we get that far, but we need help to be able to get that far in the first place!

Here is my rant, well it is a story really. 

So on a mad mission this weekend. For those of you who don’t know why here is a little story.

So we used to own Greenmann Aquatics at three legged cross Verwood,, for many many very sad reasons we had to close the shop 3 years ago. Wyevale who owned the garden centre decided that they were not going to allow us to take the aquariums from the shop. This prevented us from setting up another shop,  that was the viable brilliant part of the business.
It has taken us 3 years of battling with them through my ill health, through trials and tribulations with our family to get access to the aquariums.
Very sadly because of our economy and the way the Garden Centre trade has gone due to Wyevale owning all the garden centres and because of things like Amazon and the internet there are very few aquatic shops left. No-one one wanted to buy the tanks, no one is really setting up shops, no one is improving their shops because they’re fighting to keep in business – you get the picture!
We were very kindly given some temporary storage for the aquariums, but that now has come to an end and we need to be able to move them very quickly.
We’ve been trying to sell them, and been trying to work out what to do we could to still use them.
Dave has a desire to be breeding axolotls and the tanks would be very very useful for that. I think we could breed all sorts of fish for what part of the aquatic trade is left but also to keep the skills, to encourage people to keep fish.
Fish are amazing things for anybody they bring something to our mental health our consciousness our connection with nature that nothing else can do in the same way.
When we’ve had co-workers from other farms come and visit I have seen the change in how they behave, how they interact with people when they spend time looking at the fish.
I know when we had the shop people would come and just be in the the fish room to spend time immersing themselves in a little bit of escapism for many reasons.
I have said ever since we got hold of the aquariums again how amazing it would be if we could provide that experience for people without it being something that they had to spend money on, somewhere that they could just come and be with fish because I know it healing and calming.

This week I realised that we do have space, the part of the greenhouse I’m clearing could actually be a place where we set the Aquariums up. We could actually do this, but do you know what I cannot do it all by myself I need help and support for this to become a community where people can come and connect with the biosphere with each other with the fish.
The vision I see is a beautiful, but I need help and support to do this right now at the nitty gritty dirty horrible it’s too hot stage then you’ll know that you’ve been a part of making something wonderful that can be shared with everybody.
Rant over – love and peace to you all 💚💚💚

And guess what? I had four people turn up and help, Four amazing people who can see my vision, who believe that there is magic happening and want to be part of it. 

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

2021 Update

We got the tanks moved, it took about four days of Dave and my son Robbie going back and forth with our trailer moving aquariums, stands and pipework. We had put them up for sale as financially we didn’t have a choice. The second hand value of the complete set up was a tiny fraction of what we had paid. As Dave and Robbie lifted the last few tanks into the greenhouse, my phone rang, it was someone making me an offer on the whole system!

So two days later Dave and Robbie started to help the new owners of the aquariums load the van to take them to the shop they were setting up. They were not really impressed at doing it so soon, but it was good to be able to draw a line under that part of our lives.

Dave is breeding axolotls now, having worked out a better way than using the tanks, and they are now a really important part of our work.

The space that was cleared had to be used to store more equipment left over from the shop when we lost the storage for that. Once again we needed a hand to get it clear and put up some racking to store what we were keeping on it.

Early 2021 two of the same friends came back to help – still believing in our vision

You know who you are THANK YOU !!!!

Coding and Film making for home ed children

28 August 2019|community, Our amazing youth, Social

Coding and Film making for home educated children with  Lights, Camera, Code 

Hosted by New Forest Aquaponics cic.

Kevin teaching coding.

One of the things we are passionate about is learning , and learning takes form in many different ways.  Sometimes that’s school sometimes that’s at home. But learning in groups is always fun. We help support an informal group of home educated children within our local areas of SO45 and SO40 by providing the space for group learning. If we have spaces we then offer these out to other groups in Hampshire and Dorset. Everyone is always welcome, no matter where you live, but places are always open to the local community first, as we believe in helping the children make long lasting friendships that will carry them on through to adulthood.

Friendships happen when we interact with each other in a safe and welcoming environment, where “doing” as a team and adding our own contribution helps us find our place. 

For 5 weeks during June and July 2019 the first test of  getting a group together took place in Blackfield.  We asked the talented Kevin from Lights, Camera, Code in to deliver one of the coding courses he runs.  It was amazing!  The starting point was to see how coding is fun, and is a useful tool to be able to help others. Kevin’s courses all incorporate a social or environmental message along side skills, in this first course we learnt how to code a doorbell for a deaf person. It was wonderful to see the children come to understand why this would be needed, and how they could solve a problem for someone else. Here Kevin takes up the story…..

When we first discussed the idea of putting workshops on for children during the holidays, my business partner and I were both full time primary school teachers with hectic schedules. We were also computing lead teachers for Islington (a north London borough with an excellent record of supporting schools in implementing the computing curriculum) and had seen a real need for children to be allowed to explore coding at length and not as a ‘one hour a week’ stand alone lesson. We wanted children to be completely immersed in coding for a longer period of time. In the same way we learn to read and write (by practising daily and making it a part of everything we do) we knew children needed more exposure to coding and its many different languages in order to be able to do it competently. 

As teachers with over 15 years experience between us, we are adept at creating engaging and fun lesson plans with a purpose. It was important to us that children did not just randomly place blocks of code together and hope for the best. They needed a sense of purpose if they were going to become better coders who could potentially end up saving the world – we really do think that big. We want them to be able to collaborate, problem-solve and create. Hence why our workshops are based around in-depth projects and will have themes ranging from social awareness to Minecraft. 

So with Kevin’s guidance so many other skills were introduced, coding (obviously), typing, reading and following instructions, planning, designing, turning a design from paper to the physical, communicating via coding, working together, how computing can be useful, how games are made, how coding doesn’t have to be done via a computer, and how to have fun and learn together!

I am happy to say that all the children managed to make their door bells, and are excitedly  awaiting the next course.  I am even more happy to say that providing a small group for the children helped one overcome a fear of failing due to not being confident with reading, one learn they had skills to share, one to see friends are out there for them, and one can see that they could still learn even though they are suffering from severe school trauma.

Our plans are for this coming year to run as many courses as finances allow, we can only do this with support. The plan is to run 3 sets of 5 week courses during autumn and winter 2019. Each course has a maximum of ten children, This would give 30 learning opportunities, although I suspect it may well be the same ten children each time as they were all so keen! This will cost £1000 to hold the three courses. We would ask parents to cover some of the cost according to their financial ability, many home ed families are on a reduced income (due to not having education choices suitable for their children), I hope between the families we can cover at least half of each course, enabling us to run at least four courses and with help we could run so many more.  I truly hope we will be able to carry on offering these in the long term,  Lights, Camera, Coding have many many lesson plans they can offer.  Including film making courses, which we would run from our aquaponics farm in Cadham.  With the right backing we could also be able to offer these courses to disengaged teenagers, and groups from further afield get into coding and filmaking……..How can you help us?

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

2021 update.

We ran two courses, and then had a break whilst we tried to get funding. We had chosen to wait for funding to come through before starting up again, that took us into 2020 and covid. The funding sources we had hoped for were diverted to school children, and we now cannot use the hall space we had. Many of our families income has been affected, so we are not sure when we will be able to run coding and film making again. But we keep trying to provide this for the children.

Could you help us do that? either with funds or a space to run from.