plumpton college

Last Rural Pathways session at Baulcombes Barn

By Emma Chaplin

We had our last session with the Plumpton College Rural Pathways students at Baulcombes Barn on Friday. First of all, the group fed the pigs and tended to the hens as usual. Then they came back to the pony field area to clean that (and meet Ben, the new pony) and remove some posts.

They had a break for a drink of Ringmer Community Orchard apple juice first because it was hot.

Emma and Mark Gilbert took students aside one by one to do a feedback exercise. Rhiannan from Bluebell House was kindly there to cook food for our end of term celebration over an open fire by the pond, because she's great at it. She recently did an Erasmus cookery course in France. Rhiannan fried onions and made a fantastic salad with finely sliced fennel and lots of other interesting and delicious ingredients.

Mark, who has excellent skills in this area, helped her with the fire and the meat cooking. Rhiannan has developed an interest in meat and butchery and is talking to Owena about it. Owena had provided sausages and burgers from her own animals, and bought locally made Mamoosh pittas.

First we presented the students with their certificates. Owena and Ivan have been very impressed by how hard the group have worked. So Emma created certificates which told each person what Owena and Ivan thought were their strengths, and then she read all of these out before giving them out.

Then we ate a delicious lunch by the pond. It was a beautiful setting. Niyati had brought Owena flowers and elderflower cordial. Emma had brought a carrot cake by Felicity Ann, sessional worker at Lewes Community Allotment, for afters.

Everyone thanks Owena and Ivan, and Rhiannan. What a lovely term it's been. We wish all the students the very best of luck in the future.

Rural Pathways at Baulcombes

By Owena Lewis

The Rural Pathways group worked again as a great team, catching the weaners in the trailer.

Some of the group mixed the feed while others prepared the trailer. The weaners were enticed into the trailer, and two members kept the gate closed. We sorted out the males and females and then drove the girls in the trailer to their new enclosure.

Straw was put in the ark to keep them warm, the gates were secured so they would not try and return to the boy pigs.

Follow up, no escapes until Sunday afternoon, one girl weaner had got out, but was very keen to return to the girl enclosure. The electric fence needs to be put up!

Rural Pathways do some strategic thinking about.... mud

From Owena at Baulcombes Barn, March 2018

BB RP mud.jpg

Wall of mud

The Plumpton College Rural Pathways students were working very well at the farm on Friday morning.

They are all learning to mix and feed the pigs, collect the eggs, clean the hens out and fill hay nets for the ponies.

One student wanted to clear the yard and suggested using the sludgy mud to create a wall.

Good job they wear such sensible overalls and boots!

Photos from almost two decades at Lewes Community Allotment - from early days to Flourish!

Lewes Community Allotment began life in 1998. It's gone from being an unused plot to the wonderful, accessible resource now enjoyed by many local groups and individuals. We have raised beds, a covered shelter, a pizza oven, ponds, children's area, fruit trees, herbs, flowers and an abundant array of vegetables. 

We will be celebrating 20 years in 2018, and we'd like to thank everyone who has supported the project. All our wonderful members, Common Cause Cooperative directors, Lewes Town Council, the National Lottery, plus all the people, young and old, who have come up to lend a hand, muck in and help, or simply enjoy the space.

Sarah Rideout,

Photos by Sarah Rideout, Emma Chaplin & others

Rural Pathways groups - Last Session Celebrations

It's been a great pleasure for Flourish, running regular sessions for groups of Rural Pathways students from Plumpton College at Lewes Community Allotment and Baulcombes Barn. The young people have all worked very hard and got a lot of work done. So to thank them, we had celebrations of their time with us at their last sessions.

Lewes Community Allotment's group's last session.

First of all we did some work, such as weeding, then we stopped and had a visit from a friendly cat.

Then we enjoyed some Ringmer Community Orchard juice, or water, as well as a lovely feast of cheese, quiche, chopped veggies, hummus and homemade samosas brought by Niyati. Then allotment member Karine came along with a spectacular cake to thank the students for all their hard clearing work at the Allotment, which the members have really appreciated.

Finally, Common Cause director Topsy Jewell presented everyone with their own certificate that Emma had brought along.

Baulcombes Barn last session

 

 

At the last session at Baulcombes Barn, first we did some work on the farm. So we split up into groups and either collected eggs or fed the pigs.

Then we went back to enjoy some burgers in rolls or pitta made from Owena's pork, as well as freshly boiled eggs from her community hens, washing down with apple juice from Ringmer Community Orchard. 

It was a lovely way to say thank you and goodbye to the group, who have all been brilliant.

News from the Allotment

See the slideshow below...

By Sarah Rideout

Last week, we enjoyed the lovely blossom coming out on the crab apple tree by the gate.

On Tuesday, we had a visit from Victoria Williams, director of Food Matters, who develop Brighton and Hove Food Partnership projects. They do great work, including running cooking and gardening sessions for people with dementia.

On Wednesday, we were very pleased to show off our beautiful hand made tripod and trivet, made by Ian The Luddite. They will be most helpful for future Fire and Feast events. 

We also enjoyed a visit from a four-legged new helper!

Lots of hard work went on at the regular sessions with both groups as you can see.  

We went to take a look at the Rangers putting in a new kissing gate in the adjacent field. Later we rather rather cheekily borrowed their drill and some screws to fix one of the raised beds!

Making willow hurdles at the Allotment

A slideshow of our willow weaving session

On a wild and stormy afternoon, with Hurricane Doris on the way, the Plumpton Rural Pathways group arrived at Lewes Community Allotment, carrying bundles of willow they had cut two weeks ago at Owena's smallholding, Baulcombes Barn. Local basket maker Sarah Lawrence was on hand to show them how to weave the willow into hurdles to edge the flower and vegetable beds, to keep the soil in. 

She began by talking about health and safety - particularly with sharp secateurs and working with long pieces of willow that tend to whip about and can damage eyes.  

We split into different groups to do different tasks.

Sarah told the weaving group that we needed to find the fattest lengths first to slot into the wooden frame that Neil Merchant had kindly made for us to allow us to make the willow hurdle structures. These pieces of willow were then cut with loppers to equal lengths. 

Sarah said we needed to be careful to keep the outside structural ends straight and upright whilst we wove thinner pieces across them so they don't pull together and make a triangle. We then took turns to weave the willow pieces across between the uprights, turning at the ends, doing it in pairs at each end one at a time, changing which side of the hurdle we started with each time for stability, and pushing the willow down each time. 

We loved the different colours of the willow. We all had a go and were really pleased with how it worked out.

Sarah had also brought a paint tin lid opening tool for making holes in ground to make a hurdle straight into the earth, and she showed another group how to do that!

The other groups got on with some excellent tidying and trimming back work.

Emma Chaplin

Rural Pathways group at Baulcombes

Feb 2017 Because of the current risk of Avian flu from wild birds, all the chickens are shut in a polytunnel, and we all needed to dip our wellies in disinfectant before entering the yard.

dsc_2247

Then we split into three groups. Some of us filled nets with hay for the ponies, with one person holding the net open, the other stuffing the hay in. This caused much interest for Frankie, who put his head over the door and tried to eat the hay as we worked. After the bags were full, we put them on the gates for each of the three ponies to eat. A couple of sheep came for a nibble too.

Another group mixed up the pig feed. Owena was putting the food into the open trailer which she'd placed in an opening next to the field for them to eat inside. This is because one of the pigs is going to the abattoir next week and she wanted the pigs to get used to going in and out of the trailer before taking one of them away in it. It took a bit of getting used to, but they got there.

DSC_2270.JPG

The third group went to clear horse manure from the pony field.

Then, some students went off with Ivan to trim brambles in the sheep field, and Owena showed Connor, Natalie and Ebbie how to lead Buster and Frankie on the head collar in such a way that they don't push you off the path you want to follow (you sort of have to lean into them).

Owena also explained that, although the ponies are very muddy, it wasn't a good idea to groom them when their hair is wet. Ponies can get mud fever if mud gets brushed into their skin.

DSC_2252.JPG

Finally, the whole group gathered for some hot chocolate to warm up.

Emma Chaplin

Plumpton Supported Interns - Day Three of our Apple Course - Pub & (Sea)Cidery visits

5 December 2016 When we met up last week for the last part of Flourish's work with them on our apple-themed course, it was clear that the two groups of Plumpton College supported interns had all been working very hard since we last saw them at the Fruit Factory in October.

Here's a video we made at that time.

After they'd taken their bottles of pasteurised juice made from apples picked at Ringmer Community Orchard back to college, they had a talk by the Plumpton marketing lecturer about how they might best come up with way to promote, market and sell it, as well as a talk from a visiting graphic designer. With the support of their own lecturers, they then began generating ideas, thinking of possible names and creating label designs for marketing the juice.

So, for the last part of our work with the interns, we arranged visits for them to two local businesses, whose work relates to apples in some way - Huw from the Elephant and Castle pub in Lewes and Matt from Seacider in Ditchling - both of whom were also kind enough to comment on the label and name ideas.

Both groups had prepared some label/ideas boards and a short presentation for these trips.

Visit 1, Elephant and Castle

After the Plumpton group came in from a very cold day and bought themselves lunch at the pub - we all went upstairs to the meeting room where landlord Huw Jones helpfully answered lots of questions put by the group about his job - what's great (the sociable aspects) and what's hard (late nights, long days).

He told them what his job entails (employing and managing staff, doing a lot of admin, banking, sorting rotas, social media, making sure the place is clean and well-stocked). He also talked about the Elly's busiest night of the year - Bonfire.

dsc_2038
dsc_2038

Huw sells Owlet's apple juice, so he talked a bit about that. We discussed the recent rebranding of Harvey's brewery, general pricing of products he sells and what different staff roles there are in a pub, how the shift patterns work and who gets paid what.

He tried the juice the interns had brought along and pronounced it "truly amazing".

dsc_2032
dsc_2032

The interns gave their group juice presentation to him, one by one, including explaining that they'd decided to call their juice Liquid Sunshine.

Huw liked the name, the vivid, eye-catching designs, how creative everyone had been, the fact that the main variety of apple they'd picked (Ashmead's Kernal) is mentioned.

He really liked the 3D design work, but wondered if it might be hard to make into a flat label - but thought it might work as a special edition label that could be hung around the bottleneck.

He left the interns with a lot to think about.

Flourish project manager Emma explained that Ringmer Community Orchard would like to adapt and use one of the designs for their own juice, if possible.

Trip 2, Seacider

Matt at Seacider

Matt at Seacider

On a sunny but also very chilly day, the second group took their own blend of apple juice (made from different apple varieties than the first group - Red Falstaff, for example) to an industrial estate near Ditchling for a visit to Seacider, a fascinating and relatively new cider-making business run by Mark and Matt.

Mark had to dash off delivering cider, so Matt talked to the group about what they do. He explained that they used to make beer, as Goldstones brewery, but got into trying to make cider - and within five months went from being the smallest 'cidery' (which the cider version of 'brewery') in Sussex to one of the largest!

Matt told us about his own background, and the fact that his route to doing what he now loves hadn't been an academic one, because he'd struggled at school. He went and lived/ worked for some small cideries in the West country for a few months. He talked about his working day and the need for flexibility - if you're starting up your own business, it's a lot of hard work. He went into a lot of interesting detail about the manufacturing process, mentioned that fact that they make their cider out of apples rejected by supermarkets for not being perfect (see below).

Then he told us how their funky branding had come about. "We're not really interested in the kind of labels that feature an old man under an apple tree - we wanted something different and modern". His girlfriend Lauren Bartlett came up with the distinctive Mexican skull design, which includes images of apples, seed, leaves and Brighton Pavilion. "We're very much Brighton-based".

Fantastic logo

Fantastic logo

He talked to the interns about how you want your branding to both fit in, yet stand out - you need to think about your target audience - and it needs to entice people into buying it.

The group did their presentation to Matt, then he tasted their juice, which they've called Sweet Sussex, "it's really good", and commented on their designs.

All in all, both groups had two great visits and learnt a lot. Many thanks to Seacider and the Elephant and Castle for their time and hospitality.

Emma Chaplin

Useful links

Interested in becoming a member of Ringmer Community Orchard? More info HERE

Want to know more about the Plumpton Supported Internship programme? HERE

For more about Flourish, HERE, and Common Cause Co-op HERE

And here are links to the Elephant and Castle and  Seacider websites.

Plumpton College Rural Pathways group at Baulcombes Barn

15 November 2016

I went along to meet the Plumpton College Rural Pathways group at Baulcombes Barn last week. It was a beautiful morning, Owena and Ivan were moving Penny the sow into a field waiting for the arrival of Happy the boar, since her piglets have now been weaned.

2016-11-11-09-29-57.jpg

Claudette and Tash brought the nine Rural Pathways students along in a minibus. Everyone was wearing very smart overalls.

This is Owena's report of the session:

"I was with the group who took care of the hens; Kira, Bethany, Savanah, Clianne, Jake and Mikey.  They seemed unsure about how to open the electric fence, I think this is because normally *Gabriel has done it."

*Gabriel, we're very pleased to report, enjoyed his time with us at Baulcombes so much, he's gone on to start the Plumpton agricultural course!

"On the way out Jake and Mikey were able to do the electric fence gate and test it. Bethany and Savannah knew about collecting eggs and putting them in the trays, they needed reminding how to open the door, but were able to close it later.

Collecting eggs

Collecting eggs

We found an egg which hadn't hardened, which looks very odd. We removed it because we do not want the chickens to start eating eggs.

A strange egg shell

A strange egg shell

Clianne, Jake and Mikey cleaned the hen house. Mikey was able to prepare the paper lining with help from Tash; Jake and Clianne removed the paper and muck from the house, and removed the muck from the paper and lit the fire to burn the paper.

Cleaning out the community hens

Cleaning out the community hens

Mikey helped me to push the hen house floor back. He wanted to learn how to pick up a hen. I showed him, but was uncertain to catch one himself, he held it from me. Mikey wanted to catch a hen on his own, he was keen, but kept avoiding making the final catch. Eventually he did it! He caught a hen and held it.

The hens are easier to catch when you approach slowly and gently crouch down, as they will crouch down thinking that you are a rooster and they will stay still for a short moment and it is then that you can capture the hen. You need to hold the wings firmly to avoid flapping and damage to the wings.

We observed the hens for a while before leaving them to peck and scratch.

Feeding the chickens

Feeding the chickens

We had the boar Happy brought to visit the sow, Penny. Penny has been weaned from her piglets and she will come in season in the next three days. We watched Happy and Penny reacquainting themselves with each other.

Feeding the pigs

Feeding the pigs

One group cleaned the horse muck from the field, this is to stop the grass becoming too sour from the breakdown of the manure. We collect it up every day and let it rot down in a muck heap, which is emptied every six months when it is well-rotted.

Feeding Tallulah

Feeding Tallulah

In the meantime, another group had been feeding the weaners. They measured out the feed and gave it to the pigs, they observed if all the pigs were eating.

Finally, we all walked to check sheep. The boy lambs were well. The ewes have the tups [ie males who have not been castrated] in and the young people were told that the orange mark on the back of the ewes mean that they have been 'served' by the tup [ie in order to get pregnant]. We discussed the cycle of the ewes, which is three days with 17 days between each cycle."

 

Peter May's Guide to apples.. and more!

1. Some information about the apple varieties we grow at Ringmer Community Orchard  Ringmer Community Orchard

ADAMS PEARMAIN

1826 The origin of the apple is Herefordshire or possibly Norfolk. Its first name was “Hanging Pearmain” because it stays or hangs on the tree for a long time without dropping off.  The apple was later renamed Adam’s Pearmain after Robert Adam an apple enthusiast.

Rich, aromatic nutty flavour.  Orange red colour with greenish, yellow and gold.  The tree is scab (a fungal disease) resistant and tends to fruit one year with few apple the next.

ASHMEAD’S KERNEL

First grown by William Ashmead who lived in Gloucester. A vigorously growing variety that needs lots of space. The apple has a strong sweet-sharp flavour. Greenish-yellow fruit with some russeting.

EDWARD VII  

1902 Rowe’s Nursery Worcester. This is a very late flowering cooking apple with a green skin that becomes more yellow as it ripens. Named after the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902.

LORD LAMBOURNE

1907 raised by Laxton Brothers of Bedford. The fruit is sweet and jucy with a slight strawberry flavour and some acidity.  Bright red skin with stripes over greenish-yellow background.  The skin becomes greasy as it stores

Orleans Reinnette

ORLEANS REINETTE

Probably originated in France and first described by a Mr Knopp 1776.  The fruit has an orange red and gold colours with an aromatic, nutty sweet taste.

RIBSTON PIPPIN

First grown at Ribston Hall in Yorkshire from a pip brought over from Normandy in about 1688. Intense, rich, aromatic flavour.  Brownish orange flush and red stripes over yellow green.

 

 2. A Guide to Apple Picking, Grading and Storage

 Different apple varieties ripen over a long period from August to October.  You will know when the apple is ripe because it can easily be picked from the tree by holding the apple gently and giving it a slight twist. Other signs of ripeness are the fruit developing bright colours and the pips turning from white to brown.  Sometimes you have to pick the fruit early when birds start to peck the fruit.

Apples need to be picked with care with the stalk intact because damaged or bruised fruit does not store well.  Also customers will not want to buy bruised fruit.

the apples should gently be placed in the picking container and then when the container is full, carefully emptied into the grading bins.

The grades are:

Grade 1 Largest fruit without any blemishes or spots.

Grade 2 Medium sized fruit with occasional marks

Grade 3 Juicing grade fruit. Small and marked fruit

in modern orchards there are machines which measure, grade and wash each size of fruit automatically.

Once graded the apple bins should be clearly labelled with the variety and grade, then moved to the apple store.  At Ringmer this is a building in the coolest part of the orchard.  A cool temperature helps to slow down the ripening of the fruit and allows it to be stored for several months.  Some varieties will store longer than others. Edward V11 will store till January while Orleans Reinette quickly becomes soft.

Modern orchards have very sophisticated apple stores which allow fruit to be kept for nine months.  This is achieved by keeping the fruit at a low temperature and then reducing the amount of oxygen in the store which slows down ripening.

More information about Ringmer Community Orchard