Organic Horticulture

Speaker: Maggie Haynes
Date: 26th February
Year: 2019

Maggie and grower Antonio

Maggie Haynes, the founder, Director and project coordinator of Tuppenny Barn Ltd. in Southbourne, established an organic business in 2005 after 21 years’ service with the British Army Intelligence Corps and a further five years as a Security Consultant.

Her belief and passion are for promoting the benefits of organic fruit and vegetables grown without the use of any artificial inputs, chemicals or pesticides, which led to the building of an eco-friendly education centre as a focal point for local organisations and the community.

The project operates as a green and ethical not for profit company, a local Charity and tries to be kind to nature. Maggie is also a member of the Soil Association.

Maggie’s talk was in four sections, which are:

  1. History of the project
  2. Areas of interest
  3. Cultivation
  4. Future of the project

 

History

The 2.4 acres site was purchased in 2004 and a small flock of Jacobs sheep were run on the land. Native hedge trees were planted to thicken up the existing hedges, and rabbit protection added.

The existing barn was cleared of brambles and green oak sleepers obtained for the 12 raised beds. The beds were dug over and crushed concrete was used underneath the wood chip paths and the first crops of green manure grown. A Hornbeam hedge was planted around the raised bed square.

Children from Chidham Parochial Primary School were involved from the first on a partnership basis.

 

Areas of interest

In January 2006, children from Chidham Parochial Primary School planted 15 fruit trees and there are now 134 fruit trees in the orchard including apples, pears, plums, cherries, quince and a mulberry.

There is a pond with aquatic creatures that the children find fascinating and they five bee hives. Other creatures such as slowworms, ducks, moles and dragon flies are also seen.

Soft fruit is grown in the fruit cage re-made in 2014 by “Right Man” and the solar greenhouse is used to extend the vegetable growing season and is fully planted up all year round. The plants are blanketed with straw mulch which also helps retain moisture.

Pupils from Lyndhurst junior School from North Portsmouth helped make a greenhouse with 1500 plastic bottles.

A produce shop is run in a newly installed portakabin open Thursday and Friday, Produce includes preserves and juices as well as fruit and vegetables. Veg Bags are made up on Wednesdays, they buy in from local suppliers.

For her 50th Birthday Maggie went on a River Cottage jam making course and discovered Bergamot oranges, marvelous for marmalade.

 

Cultivation

Maggie uses the “no dig” method of cultivation which involves growing the crop, harvesting, adding more manure/compost to the bed and replanting.

Maggie told us the top four inches of soil has the most nutrition. Composting is critical to her philosophy; there are three composting bins and a giant wormery and the worm casts are used as compost as well.

There is also a rain water harvesting system containing 2000 gallons of water. Some living willow fences have been installed and the flowers are used in bouquets from the cutting garden.  Herbs are used to edge the raised beds and sweet peas and nasturtiums grown for insect control.

 

Future of the project

The Education Building has a teaching area including a workshop, a plants and produce area, and a local arts and crafts display space.

The building is circular in plan which has straw bale walls and a wood shingle roof, and looks stunning!

Maggie told us about the courses they run for children and adults, inside for art and poetry for children and wreath making for adults and outside for the medicine garden and use of herbs and hedgerow plants for example. Sustainability is key.

See www.tuppennybarn.co.uk for more details.

In future Maggie is working towards getting the shop outside, growing more flowers and doubling the number of children involved.

Maggie’s talk was inspirational as usual and shows what a determined and committed woman can do in a few short years. There are volunteering opportunities,

Maggie also welcomes donations, and we are encouraged to attend events.

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