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!

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.

Sorting Ecobricks

Don’t assume you know how to make them!

It has become time for Ecobricks UK ( at New forest Aquaponics cic ) to sort out the underweight ecobricks we have been sent since 2018. 

It has always been our intention to be able to use these to insulate some of our aquaponic ponds. Sadly we need to reduce the number of them before we can get that far, as we have to find a new site before we can dig any ponds. 

So a dedicated team of passionate ecobrickers came to start the process of sorting and remaking as many as we can so they are usable in modules

We decided to make a video to help you understand why we need you to make really good solid, dense ecobricks that fulfill plastic sequestration principles and earthen ethics, rather than underweight ‘ecobrick’ attempts that can’t be used.

We do understand and appreciate that every underweight ecobrick represents an attempt by someone to express their feelings about plastic, the desire to see change from a plastic dependent society.  It also shows us the dangers of social media, how messages get spread without detail, and how we forget to research for ourselves the information we find on a facebook post. 

Thank you to everyone who cares enough to try, thank you to everyone who has and is reducing the plastic that comes into their lives ……we know it isn’t easy! Regardless of if you make ecobricks or not – just keep working on not consuming the plastic, the earth will thank you for it. 

Here is the transcript for the video. 

It has been put together under the directorship of James who is 10 – and who leads by example and follows the earth’s ethics. 

Ecobricking is a way for anyone anywhere to take personal responsibility for their plastic. Together we can keep it out of the biosphere and out of capital and carbon intensive industrial processing. 

Ecobricking follows the Earth’s example towards cycling and sequestration. Based on indegenous wisdom, extensive evaluation and earthen ethics, ecobricking isn’t just about packing plastic– it’s about petro-capital transition.

This can be quite a lot to take on, but it is so important,

 This short video is about why it is so important to  follow the principles of ecobricking and make really good solid and dense ecobricks. 

Underweight ecobricks cause problems for those who end up looking after them.

Have you ever wondered why?

At ecobricks UK we were caught out when the idea of ecobricks went viral october 2018, we had 1000’s of poorly made ecobricks sent to us. Every underweight ecobrick  is a well meaning  attempt to do something about plastic, but if we do not follow the principles of plastic sequestration we are failing our biosphere. 

We have looked after these ecobricks, but we can’t not use them as they are and still uphold the principles of plastic sequestration. So a team of volunteers came and spent a day with us to start the process of sorting them out. 

We are going to remake as many of the ecobricks  as we can so the plastic is taken care of. This means opening them, and chopping up the plastic.  As we opened the poorly made ecobricks we came across so much that should not be in an ecobrick. 

And some were just too dirty to even think about opening……

We found paper, compostable plastics, metal, full teabags, paper, lots of bits of food and a nappy……..

An underweight ecobrick that contains materials other than plastic can become compromised, we want the ecobricks to last as long as the plastic. Excess air, organic matter and any moisture can cause the ecobrick to become weak which will affect  any structure it might be part of or even burst the top off.

We ask you to wash and dry your plastic for good reason, not only will any  dirt in the ecobrick slowly break down leading to bacteria and fungus to grow and this can lead to methane gas  forming inside your ecobrick.

When ecobricks are used to  make home furniture you  want to avoid unsightly ecobricks or bloated bottles. It has been known for dirty wet plastic to cause the lids to pop off. 

Logged ecobricks are the best  reassurance that the ecobricks can be used in many different projects throughout its lifetime.

One of the reasons we advise anyone running a project to only accept ecobricks that have been logged and authenticated on gobrik is to stop underweight ecobricks being given to the project. 

For more information www.ecobricks.org/how

I hope you like James video, and I hope this will help you understand that a good well made solid, dense ecobrick is a building block, a poorly made one is no good to anyone. 

If you would like to book a starter workshop for your community, join our ecobrick trainer network or have any other questions pop me an email watercressqueen1@watercressqueen1

Where will we work?

To create a regenerative aquaponics farm in the way we would like, one that will serve all of the other parts of the plan, one that is there for the community and helps real depth of change, we need security.

We need to know that our work will survive far beyond us, will be there for the peoples that come after us, that the community will be there for the peoples to come.

 The last page is about being able to buy some land to put into trust to keep safe. So the trees we plant will provide oxygen, shade, food, and grow to reach their full potential. 

The aim is to do this as a community benefit society, offering a democratic share offer – one member, one vote.  There will be a management committee, to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. And as we aim to provide space for children, we will also run a children’s management committee so the children can be heard. 

We would welcome ideas and conversations about land / farms that are available. We would love to stay in the Forest, our friends are here, and there isn’t anything else similar for a long way. But land is very expensive here,  if we have to move we are open to it, but then the locals here would miss out again.

I really hope you are inspired to join us, if you haven’t already please fill in our survey, if you want to hear more, especially when we launch the share offer do fill in your email. 

 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 last two  pages of our working ethos, where?  – you can read the rest on our website ( open source development of the website brings 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. follow the link or use the QR code

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

Life Skills

One of the things I hear so often is – that ‘it’ should be taught in schools, doesn’t matter what the ‘it’  is, that’s the line that everyone comes out with. 

But sadly that’s not what happens, when I was at school, we did learn some of the skills I have needed in my adult life, but not in depth enough, and I can assure you I have forgotten a lot of it since then!

I have gone out and re learnt to help me remember, and taken it upon myself to gain many more skills. Not everyone is able to do that, there are many barriers to access hands on skills, not all of them are obvious as barriers. 

We want to listen to people, find out what they would like to learn to help them, and find out what skills they can bring to share with the community. What’s your skill?

The list we have made as part of our working ethos is only a fraction of what we could do. And who knows what the long term benefits will be as our society changes, and we head towards a more regenerative way of living in our modern world. 

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 tenth page of our working ethos, life skills  – 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. follow the link or use the QR code

https://forms.gle/otCaze6JDjL3LzmG6

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