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Colourful Produce, Upcoming Open Day, and Richard Dunne of Ashley CofE Primary School

Looking at our shop last week, Christine and I think that we are now in one of the most colourful produce times of the year with all the soft fruit coming online, the tomatoes getting riper and lots more for sale which is always good.

We are very busy this week with preparations for Sunday’s Open Day. The girls will be busy baking for the cream tea tent, more jams will be made, including the ever popular fridge jam for the clotted cream and scones. The lemon verbena is growing in abundance so we are drying some for packaging into tea bags. There will be an opportunity to purchase some of our lovely flowers – June is probably one of the nicest times in our flower cutting garden. There will be activities for the children and an opportunity to join either Christine or Adrian for a hedgerow foraging or bee information tour. We have invited several craftspersons who will be demonstrating their crafts. For anyone wanting to berry pick, our soft fruit cage will be open for PYO. Do come and join us anytime between 1 – 5pm. Finally, if anyone wants to donate a homemade cake we would be most grateful.

Looking to the calendar for forthcoming events, on June 30th Chrissie Bush will be holding an English Wine Tasting evening at Tuppenny Barn and has invited both Liz Sagues, local author of “A celebration of English wine” and Alison Nightingale, owner of award-winning wine company Albourne Estates, to assist with the tasting and talk about some great English wines. Tickets can be purchased via Bush Wines website and they will be donating some of the proceeds to our charity.​

This week in Bristol, Head Teacher Richard Dunne of Ashley CofE primary school in Walton-on-Thames (whom I met last year when I attended the Harmony in Food and Farming Conference) is exploring how working with food in schools can transform learning; and why the future of food depends on a more integrated and interconnected approach to learning, so that the food producers of the future become stewards of human and planetary health. Against a backdrop of a heavily assessment-driven education system, and within a culture of over-consumption and exploitation of scarce resources, Richard Dunne believes it’s time to reconnect young people with nature – to bring real purpose to what they learn and how they understand the world. Inspired by the Prince of Wales’s book, Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, Richard has put sustainability and nature at the heart of the curriculum at his school, pioneering an ‘enquiry approach’ to learning based on the seven principles of Harmony. This approach, Richard explains, has enabled the children at his school to start to see the world differently, understanding how natural systems work in never-ending cycles and interdependent relationships. What’s more, this approach to learning is developing a range of other skills in them, including improving their fine motor skills through weekly geometry sessions, paying attention to detail and becoming more mindful and able to better concentrate. Above all, they are developing a confidence in expressing their understanding of how the world works, how they are an integral part of it and how they can align their practices to enable them to live more harmoniously within it. Projects at the school have included setting up an organic vegetable garden, improving the energy efficiency of the school and overseeing the management of closed-loop recycling systems. Richard says,

“Not surprisingly, the children love to learn in this way, and Ofsted like it too – for nearly 12 years we have achieved their ‘Outstanding’ rating.”

I am delighted to announce that Chantelle from Fresh From the Boat will now be with us on 2 mornings a week supporting the produce shop on both Thursday and Friday mornings. We are keen to increase our footfall on a Friday and hope to run a regular pop up cafe on Friday morning as part of this new initiative. We will also be inviting other producers to attend to showcase their produce, details of which we will let you know. Chantelle is happy to take orders and deliver for those who might not be able to get to Tuppenny Barn on either day.