Real Work – Growing
The young people have prepared ¼ of our one-acre walled garden for cultivation, clearing out vegetation, laying bio-degradable mulch sheets and high-grade compost over the quadrant. The field is going through Soil Association Organic Certification. As the young people grow older they will manage the certification process as well.
Over the past year, under the guidance of Pete Dollimore who is Grower at Hankham Organics, we have planted broad beans, strawberries, spinach, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, a variety of herbs such as coriander, dill and parsley, and a whole range of edible flowers such as borage, gypsophila, calendula and mizuna.
Each of these was sown in an indoor environment to exacting standard, carefully recorded. An indoor propogation area was created with artificial heating and lighting. Temperature and humidity were recorded and plotted on graphs. At the right time, saplings were moved out of the indoor propogation area into the polytunnel, where their care continued before being planted in the open.
Real work – Marketing
Our vegetables are harvested and packed daily. Research has been done on each of these plants, and information slips prepared. Each plant has a webpage created, by the young people, with QR code stickers that connect mobile phone scanners with a webpage for that vegetable. The produce is supplied primarily to a shop in Hove that sells organic produce. The edible flowers are supplied primarily to a company that caters for weddings. Further outlets are being explored. We are currently negotiating the terms for a stall in Needlemakers, Lewes where we can sell our artwork. The process of designing a website for our products has begun.
Real work – Animals
We have a small flock of 5 ducks, and we keep 5 beehives. The young people take care of these animals under the supervision of trained adults. We plan to register as a packing centre so we can sell eggs. For now, duck eggs have been incubated, and through the various minor calamities one duckling made it through and has received a warmer reception than Prince George did when he was born.
The young people have also worked to transform a disused swimming pool into a wildlife habitat, and have with the help of our ecologist Tracey Younghusband, have created an environment that smooth and palmate newts can thrive in. A mallard-couple recently laid 6 beautiful eggs in a floating island the young people built.
Two of the young people have recently embarked on a mice-breeding programme that they have project-managed from the start, including persuading their partners to fund this (guaranteed money-spinner) through their earnings from the sale of their produce.
Real work – Domestic
The young people help the chef manage the kitchen budget for the school. From time to time they also help the chef in the preparation of meals. Naturally they also lay the table for lunch, serve and clean up.
They are responsible for all house-cleaning jobs including dusting, sweeping and mopping, emptying bins, and cleaning out their toilets. In addition, they manage the school’s composting systems of which we have two: aerobic and anaerobic.
Real work – Construction and woodwork
The young people have been involved in the building of a wood workshop. This involved participating in preparing the foundations of the workshop, laying the floor joists, putting in the insulation and eventually painting the inside.
Various young people have been involved in minor repairs around the building – repairing chairs for the Children’s House, fixing door latches, putting up shelves, or repairing windows.
The young people have built a gate under the archway in the walled garden to keep the rabbits and deer out. They have recently finished a series of exquisite hand-carved brackets for a large shelf we made for the Elementary classroom in Hove, to store finished artwork.