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Brighter Outlook

The rhythm of life on the smallholding has increased considerably over the past few weeks and it hasn’t all been due to the rare appearance of the sun

It was quite a treat to get out and about without wellington boots and thermals, albeit for just a few days before the cold and damp weather returned.

Having endured one of the coldest March for many years, let’s hope that conditions improve and we can look forward to a great fruit harvest later in the year. Last year with an unseasonably hot March, followed by frosts and prolonged rain, the pollination of the fruit was very poor and we had a much reduced fruit harvest.

Optimistically, the signs are looking better for this year but always at the back of our minds is the requirement for adaptability. This is paramount in how we take our growing forward as the weather patterns are changing by the year.

There have been sightings of Red Admiral and the vibrant sulphur yellow Brimstone, both of which hibernate as adults over the winter. The first ‘new’ butterflies of the year will be Orange Tips, which may start emerging this month

Some 15 children joined us for a lively and fun-packed “Build an Insect House” workshop during the Easter holidays. Our site manager, Iain had made the wooden house kits beforehand but assembly involved much hammering to create probably one of the noisiest workshops we have held.

Sadly I wasn’t able to join the action because on the same day we had our annual Soil Association inspection and, together with a SA inspector, I spent an intensive day going through all our mandatory records including plant rotations, yields, numbers and varieties of all organic plants grown, pests and diseases incurred during the year composting records…. and so on. These are all important data that go to make up how we conduct our day to day working practices at Tuppenny and will give a thorough audit trail from seed to shop. In this age of traceability this gives our customers confidence in knowing what they buy from us is from an accredited source that has been inspected for its standards.

But the hard work was worth the effort with a positive outcome and re-accreditation for another year.

For the next few weeks I have cleared my diary in order to concentrate on grant and fund raising for the education centre build. It is extremely difficult to find sufficient time to do this along with all the other tasks with the organics and educational sides of the business. But we need to keep our fund-raising at a high level if we are to complete the new building by the end of the year.

So it was particularly gratifying to hear in March that we that we were to receive another £30,000 from the Roddick Foundation. This will fund, amongst other items, the bespoke windows and doors that are being crafted for the project.

It will be really good to be able to finish off the main structural parts of the building and be able to shut a main door. We are now completely waterproof and the last of the Rockwool insulation in the roof area is in place.

Finally for this month’s blog, Tuppenny Barn had a stand at the South Downs Education Forum as one of the 30 education providers within the National Park area.

The event was attended by 120 teachers who heard a key note speech by the eminent environmentalist, Jonathan Porritt. His message was one of a stark warning of the disconnect that many children have these days with their natural environment and the dire consequences they will see in their life time if they don’t embrace conservation in its broadest terms.

We hope that we can play our very small part here at Tuppenny Barn in showing our young people what a wonderful environment we have here on our doorstep and providing practical ways in which we can engage and interest them in their natural surroundings.