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Education centre takes centre stage

The pace of life at Tuppenny Barn quickened considerably during September but between the mini monsoons and difficult working conditions there were several welcome golden shafts of good news.

Those familiar with the pattern of life at our organic fruit and vegetable enterprise will know about the ups and downs of our hopes and plans. But I can place on record in this my first official blog on our new website that I have never been so confident – and happy – with recent developments that will greatly enhance our progress towards our aims and objectives for the future.

Sourcing funding has always had a major effect on our education centre building project and resulted in regular reviews of our timetable to match money, materials and labour.

However, we have recently been fortunate to receive important financial contributions from local organisations that will have a major impact on our progress towards a fully functioning education centre.

First came the wonderful news that the Roddick Foundation had agreed to support us with a donation of £30,000 for the roof and floor structure of the quadrant and rotunda. We have conveyed our thanks to Gordon Roddick for giving us the opportunity to start the completion of works required for the education centre.

Then came news that we had secured £30,000 from EDF Energy Ltd towards the renewables such as our rainwater harvesting system, underfloor heating, the air source heat pump for heating & solar photovoltaics that form such an essential part of the energy-efficient, low carbon nature of the new centre.
And finally for our funding, we are extremely grateful for the £5,000 grant from the Sustainable Development Fund, Chichester Harbour Conservancy towards the build project.
It has also been a busy couple of weeks in terms of events at the smallholding. We welcomed the Chidham and Hambrook Sustainable Network ‘Grow Your Own Group’ on one evening for a tour & shared supper followed by two days in Chichester at the local Food Fayre. Lots of interesting stalls and a real “buzz” within the stallholders area.

Despite uncertainties about the weather we were able to host visits from Southbourne Brownies and pupils from Westbourne Primary School. It’s only as the education centre nears completion that we realise how important it is going to be for our schools and local organisations to be able to visit without being beholden to the vagries of our British weather affecting our educational programmes.

Our most high profile event, certainly in terms of local press coverage, was the WemsFest picnic on Sunday 23rd October when it soon became apparent that we would not be able to operate outdoors.

Torrential rain and a thunderstorm greeted our guests, including two famous actors, Albert Finney and Tom Courteney, who are recent supporters of Tuppenny Barn. The education centre was made weather-tight through the use of straw bales and tarpaulins and the picnic and entertainment went ahead as planned.

Visitors tucked into a sumptuous picnic lunch that was provided by the talented Lawrence and Julia Murphy from Fat Olives restaurant, Emsworth. using Tuppenny Barn’s fresh organic produce. They were accompanied by music from the Chidham Ukulele Junction band who invited the audience to sing along and also try their hand at playing a ukulele.This was the first time we had been able to use the education centre for an event and set the scene for the education and local community events to come so we were thrilled to see so many enthusiastic supporters turn out on such a dreadful day.

Later this month we will start to build the straw bale walls as a permanent feature of the centre and we were pleased to welcome Mark Saich to the smallholding. Mark is an expert in straw bale and lime rendering and will be passing on his skills at a course in mid November. It is our intention to use one of the centre’s walls as a perfect practical way of course attendees gaining experience in this traditional art of building a natural wall.

Anyone who is interested in attending the course can get in touch for further details via