Open Events - come & meet us!

If you're interested in finding out more about what we do, we will be running a number of open events over the next few months.

Drop-in sessions at Baulcombes Barn

sheep baulcombes

Farmer and therapist Owena Lewis will be offering taster sessions on her smallholding at Hamsey.


If you might be interested, drop Emma an email

Lewes Community Allotment Open Drop-in Sessions


Our regular open sessions at the Lewes Community Allotment take place on the last Saturday of every month from 2-4pm, from March-November. We're based up the Nevill.

Meet co-ordinator Sarah Rideout, have a tour of the allotment, see if you might be interested in coming along regularly to spend some time outside, learning about gardening and growing food in good company.

Contact Sarah on



Calling all photographers!

LOAP We've got what we think might make an interesting project for someone interested in photography, who could commit to doing something over a period of time.

Flourish has a large and very fine community allotment at a beautiful spot, high on up on the Downs by the Nevill estate in Lewes. People with mental health issues and learning disabilities go up there weekly for regular horticultural therapy sessions over the year. They grow vegetables, flowers, fruit, nuts. There are a couple of ponds and raised beds.

We want someone to take a photo from exactly the same spot once a week from 1 March to 1 Nov to see how the plot grows and flourishes! It wouldn't matter when the photo was taken, but ideally a similar day and time each week. It could make a great project for a photography student or someone interested in plants and wildlife.

We could pay expenses, and we'd hope to make a lovely montage at the end of it to share with everyone we work with.

If you might be interested, please contact Emma

Many thanks!

Horsing around - Owena's animal report from Baulcombes

There are five farm animals that have been highly domesticated from the wild; horses, pigs, sheep, goats and cows. All these animals could be domesticated because they have a clear social pattern of behaviour. This can be transferred to humans, with the result that an animal may learn to follow the person rather than the lead animal.




Horses are flight animals, fear is their dominant emotion.

Horses depend a lot on vision and sound, they can be easily startled by sudden, unfamiliar movement or sound. They can learn to accept unusual sounds and movements.

Horses have survived by flight rather than by attacking. A new born foal can get up and run within a few hours of birth.

white horse

Foals will learn from their mother or an older horse,  and so when you brush the mother, the foal will see that she is ok to be brushed.

Foals need to be habituated to new situations and sensations. They should be introduced to new things slowly. These include grooming, picking feet up, putting head collar on, bridle, saddle, fly spray, rugs, being tied up, being led, traffic, cycles, balloons, flags etc.

Work with the foals ‘seeking’ nature, let the foal smell and look at things, let him follow if appropriate. Foals should be introduced to new things in short bursts of time. If he shows agitation, stop and give him a thirty minute break.

When something new is introduced to the foal, and he responds adversely, identify if the foal is fearful from the sight, sound or smell.


Horses may startle when they see a familiar object from a different angle to which they are usually accustomed.

A horse can show fear by switching the tail; holding his head high; sweating when there is no physical exertion; quivering; showing whites of the eye;

If the horse behaves in a difficult way, identify if it is fear or pain that is causing the problem.

Owena Lewis, farmer and therapist, Baulcombes Barn

LOAP allotment planning meeting 2016

planning mtg feb 2016.jpgAround 20 LOAP members came along to the Sanctuary at the St Nicholas Day Centre for an allotment planning meeting on 3 February 2016 to discuss what to plant this year. LOAP co-ordinator Sarah Rideout facilitated the session, and also present were St Nick's support worker Bisi Alaba and Flourish project manager Emma Chaplin.

Sarah began by explaining that the purpose of the meeting was to look at what to grow and do at the allotment during 2016.

She said the best way to do that would be to discuss what had grown well in the last year at the allotment, think about what didn't do so well and why, which would help everyone to think about what they'd like to be grown on the allotment this year.

She had brought along a large box of seeds and seed catalogues for people to look at, as well as planning plans to be completed.

seeds loap.jpg

Sarah also had some big sheets pinned up with pictures showing possible special session ideas (willow weaving, bird box making, bee-keeping, storytelling, mosaics, outdoor cooking, manual handling and food hygiene) so everyone could let her know what they found most interesting. 

Emma spoke to the group briefly as a reminder of what Flourish is, and how the different parts of Flourish (Baulcombes Barn and Ringmer Community Orchard) all fit together. She had brought along some leaflets and photos. She mentioned the Project User Group, mentioned that met for the first time before Christmas, and told everyone the next meeting will be held at LOAP in March. She hopes lots of LOAP members will come along to it to meet other project users.

pumpkin dec 2015What grew well this year

Pumpkin - although best not orange, they can get stolen before Halloween.

Big red beetroot and leeks. Garlic. Chard. Perpetual spinach. Carrots.

Mizuna. Corn salad. Achocha. Tomatoes (before blight arrived).

Herbs around bed edges. Soil improvement - compost and manure.

What didn't grow so well this year (and why)

Tomatoes  - too close to each other?

Structures a bit rickety, could be better

Beans - not many

Radish and strawberries - problems with lots of woodlice

Need more pest protection and successional sowing (peas, salads)

What people want to grow this year

feedback form



Garlic, carrots, purple ones (heritage seed). Shallots and or red onions, spring onions, salad potatoes, spring and other cabbage, non orange pumpkins, squashes, pattypans, peas, tomatoes (plum, cherry), courgettes, cucumber, spring greens, parsnips, perpetual spinach, chard, celeriac, mizuna, purple frilly brussels sprouts, kales, salad leaves, land cress, pak choi, rocket.


Sweet potato, asparagus, aubergine, kohl rabi, chilli peppers.


Grapes, plums, strawberries, cherries.


More edible flowers - nasturtiums, marigolds, borage, violas etc. Water iris, sweet peas, poppies, sunflowers (multi-head and red), bee and butterfly flowers, cottage garden flowers.


Plants to make tea eg chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint etc.

Chives, parsley, thyme, more herb bed edges.

Companion planting, dandelions, milk thistle, calendula.

In general - fewer potatoes and onions as these don't cost much in the shops.

Extra activities feedback:

Topic and Number of votes 

Story telling 6

Outdoor cooking (bread oven) 9

Hazel weaving 6

Making bird boxes 7

Making mosaics 7

Bee-keeping 3

Safe lifting/manual handling and food hygiene, with certificates 12

Extra suggestions (that incur costs):

Making a book that we could all design - recipes (some gluten free), photos and drawings of allotment, done by St Nicks group (or all)Extra suggestions (that would need money):

  • Invest in plant protection/structures/cloches etc.
  • Making bunting for the allotment
  • Buy plastic trug buckets colour coded for different things
  • New benches to be made by St Nicks craft group
  • Crop rotation plans colour coded plus coloured ribbons on beds to match
  • Planning calendar
  • Blackboard for task list
  • Extra shelter for cold/wet weather plus seating
  • Kettle, pans and trivet for the fire
  • New boards/deck for pond area

Extra suggestions (that don’t need money):

  • More birdwatching
  • Make cold drinks at allotment with fruit and veg
  • Sharing recipe ideas
  • Foraging edible weeds/wild plants and fruits eg rosehips
  • Learning more about composting, green manures, making natural plant feeds, generally improving soil
  • More adventurous cooking - courgette flowers in batter
  • Fluorescent strips on tool handles to make them easier to see


Information about our animals from Baulcombes Barn

sheep baulcombes Sheep facts                                                                             

  • Female sheep are called ewes
  • Male sheep are called rams
  • Young female sheep are called tegs
  • Rams are also known as tups
  • Sheep are most fertile in October and  November
  • Sheep have a rumen stomach
  • Sheep are herd animals
  • They like to be in a group, if one sheep gets separated it will panic
  • Sheep can be rounded up by walking slowly
  • You can tell the age of sheep by their teeth
  • You assess a sheep’s condition by feeling the amount of fat around the back bone at the shoulder

pigs at baulcombes

Pig facts 

  • Pigs can live outdoors
  • Pigs are omnivores
  • Pigs can’t sweat, in summer they get hot
  • Pigs have sharp teeth
  • Pigs go in water to wallow and cool down
  • Pigs make lots of identifiable noises


Hen facts                                                                                           

  • Hens are omnivores.
  • Hens lay about 200 eggs a year
  • Hens like to scratch the ground for bugs
  • Hens like to live with other hens. and grow a thick winter coat
  • Hens have a pecking order
  • Foxes like to kill and eat chicken
  • Hens can take three weeks to hatch a chick
  • Hens moult for about 9 weeks and stop laying eggs
  • Groups of hens only need one cockerel


Pony facts 

  • Ponies can be groomed and led
  • Ponies loose their summer coat in autumn
  • Ponies like to live in a herd
  • Some ponies will try to dominate and need to be clearly handled
  • You can tell how old a pony is by its teeth
  • Ponies can easily be frightened by sudden noise
  • Ponies can sense sounds through their hooves
  • Ponies have worked with humans for hundreds of years


Poems about Baulcombes Barn, Hamsey by 'everglades'

shetland sheep baulcombes

Gathering Sheep, November 2015

 What do you see,

when I hold my hand to you,

through your world wary, slip-shot eyes?

Is it my demeanour,

or the smell of my mortality

that makes you shy away?

Nothing sits right,

my mind tortured

by its fractured wrongness.

Yet in your simplicity

I seem, perhaps, whole!

Sharing spaciousness

you follow,

I follow,

we follow.

Our mutual path

binds us.

Penned in

your trust swells me –

Your stillness offers out

that I am part of that ‘Same’, as you.

by everglades

Written following weekly visits to Owena’s farm during autumn 2015.

To Cassie and Tallulah, February 2013



filled with freshness,

alert to your surroundings.

What is it you are saying

with your wide eyes

and ready mouth?



We have so little shared,

Yet what it is you have,

I would die for.

Your needs, instant and direct,

grounded as you are

in the very ‘Now’ of life.

Your rested mind watching

as Time rolls his trials

before you.

You are loved;

Held in the infinity

of Nature’s embrace.

Loved for the essence

that shakes from your mane,

clatters from your hooves.

Loved for your wholeness,

your strength,

your purity.

Loved for your hurry

and your pause.

Tomorrows hold no torture

to your heart,

Weakened as they are

by your wide wonder

and ready acceptance.

Hope, turns her head

towards you,

and smiles.



We have so little shared

Yet what it is you have,

I would die for!

by everglades

Written during a long stay in Langley Green hospital, following leaving home. She says, "Weekly visits to Owena’s farm were a lifeline".




Fire and Christmas Feast at LOAP

Wednesday 16 December corn salad dec 2015 loap

It was a blustery day. Various tasks were done, such as planting corn salad (above), and weeding.

Then we stopped for a fire and a Christmas feast. The weather felt a bit mild for just before Christmas, but that didn't stop us having a wonderful time and enjoying the cracking fire. People had come along with food to share. There were delicious sausage rolls, a beautiful pumpkin from the allotment, some wonderful pumpkin scones, vibrant red cabbage slaw and mince pies galore! Bisi had made some blinis with rosemary from the allotment and smeared them with cream cheese.

Sarah, sporting an excellent penguin hat, toasted pumpkin seeds over the fire and added tamari, which is a kind of soy sauce. They were very tasty. We also had marshmallows that we toasted on hazel twigs.

We finished the morning and the feast  by singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas and we do indeed wish EVERYONE a merry and peaceful Christmas and a very Happy New Year from Flourish.

Sarah's regular Wednesday morning LOAP allotment drop-in will be back in January 2016.


Apple juice label - final design from Plumpton

plumpton label on the bottle.jpgApple Juice Label Final This is the final Ringmer Community Orchard apple juice label, designed by the Plumpton College supported interns with the assistance of the wine department. Read all about how it was produced here. We think it's great. Well done all.


Our three day course with Plumpton College Supported Interns

  Ringmer orchard plumpton group sept 2015

Ringmer Community Orchard, under the guidance of Common Cause director Katharine Finnegan, has become a thriving orchard over the years, with many varieties of apple trees and other fruits. Flourish came into being in September 2015, and one of the first tasks of project manager Emma Chaplin was to create and carry out a three-day course based around these apples for the class of fifteen Plumpton College supported interns.

This Emma did in consultation with apple expert Peter May, Plumpton supported interns course leader Mel Simmonds, and others.

Day one

This took place at the end of September at Ringmer Community Orchard. The day was run by Peter May, supported by Emma and several Plumpton support staff, including Mel and Nikki Sanger. During the day, Peter talked to the group about how apples grow, how many different varieties there are, plus offering advice on safe handling of heavy items. From Peter, the interns learnt how to pick, grade and weigh the Red Falstaff apples. There were also discussions about what working in the fruit picking industry might entail and what qualities you might want for such roles.

Day two

This took place at the beginning of October at Brighton Permaculture in Stanmer Park. Peter May and Emma Chaplin brought along the apples the students had picked at Ringmer Orchard. Stephan Gehrels of Brighton Permaculture led the day, demonstrating and supporting the interns in how to wash, macerate and press the apples using the hydropress. He also answered any questions the students had about the process.

Everyone tasted the freshly pressed juice - and said they thought it was delicious. The interns poured half of it into cartons. A passer-by bought a carton of it from intern Gemma.

Stephan talked about bottling apple juice, adding flavours, what labels are added. He also showed the interns the cider press. Then the interns bottled the rest of the juice into 19 bottles, which they then pasteurised, to make the juice longer-lasting. The interns took these home with them.

The day ended with a Stanmer orchard tour by Peter May.

This was some of the feedback we got after days one and two: "Grading of apples, picking and storing was really interesting." "The orchard tour was really good". "The fresh apple juice was much better than shop bought". "Learning the different names of the apples was interesting". "I liked learning how to make juice and tasting it".  "The people were passionate about their project, this was contagious".


The interns went back to college to design labels for their bottles with their resident expert graphic design tutor. They had advice and examples from Stephan and Emma about what the bottle labels needed to include, and graphic designer Neil Gower (who has designed beer bottles, amongst many other things) contributed advice on good label design.

Day three Plumpton interns arriving in Lewes by bus

This was split into two. The interns came by bus to Lewes at the beginning of December with Nikki Sanger and Mark Gilbert as support staff plus others, where Emma met them off the bus.

They visited the Elephant and Castle pub, went upstairs to the function room where landlord Huw Jones spoke to them about running a pub, how he came to be a pub landlord, what jobs there are in pubs and what qualities you need to do them.

The students had prepared a large number of questions for Huw, which he was able to answer very helpfully.IMG_20151202_135823 Sara Grisewood from Pleasant Stores came and joined the group and told them about her local vegetarian cafe/shop business. Then Huw and Sara tasted the apple juice, gave incredibly positive feedback about the taste and how good a product it is. They said there were so many factors that would work for them as buyers – the fact that it's made by Plumpton interns, is limited edition, from a single variety of apples grown locally, that no chemicals used in the process or used on the apple trees. They said they would definitely stock it if they could.

They also explained how much they’d pay for a bottle, and how much they’d charge if they were selling it on.

They gave feedback on all the label designs the students had come up with.

Sara talked about products she stocks and, on the way back to the bus stop, the interns dropped into Pleasant Stores, where she showed them some labels of her drinks.

Final half day

The next day, Emma went to Plumpton College and talked to the students about Twitter – what it is, how to use it effectively, how to be safe on Twitter. She answered questions about tweeting, then gave a handout on this. She also presented the interns with certificates of attendance for the whole three days of the apple-based course.


The final outcome of this project will be that the interns will work with the wine department at Plumpton to produce the labels, based on the best bits of an amalgam of designs. Watch this space for that.

The juice will be sold at the Plumpton College Christmas Fair, with all money raised going to Chestnut Tree Hospice.

Hibernation with Michael Blencowe

MB talk It's always a pleasure to welcome Michael Blencowe from the Sussex Wildlife Trust. Recently, he visited our Wednesday morning group at LOAP, the allotment, to talk about what creatures do in winter - such as hibernate. He showed us how to create tightly-packed tubes that insects can use in the winter. We also moved our lovely new hedgehog house to a quieter spot in the allotment.

hedgehog house loap

Last session (for now!) at Baulcombes Barn

Posted by Emma Chaplin. Photos EC and Cath Clayton

It was a pleasure to go along last week to Owena's last session this year to spend the morning with the group from Bluebell House. The last time I went it was pouring with rain, but despite it being November, it was dry, mild and pleasant weather. Muddy underfoot though, so wellies were essential.

We fed the chickens, including the fluffy-legged cockerels and the friendly Mrs Whitey (pictured), then we walked across the fields and along the paths past the sheep to feed some quinces we'd found to the pigs, Happy and Lucky can be seen tasting one above. Some of the group then groomed the horses, Frankie the foal (Cath can be seen stroking his nose), and the mares Tallulah (being groomed by Sue, above) and Foxy. Glenne and I had the less glamorous job of cleaning the horse manure piles from the field with a wheelbarrow.

We then went back to the Barn for some tea and fantastic animal-themed cake made by Claire as well as delicious apple cake made by Tracey.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again in the New Year, if not before.