The advantages of eating fresh, organic local produce have been well documented – as have the benefits, both mental and physical, of ‘growing your own’. Combining both then can only be a good thing for everyone.
With that in mind, Tuppenny Barn is an inspiring charity that provides learning experiences on organic growing, healthy eating and cooking, and general countryside skills.
Based from their beautiful smallholding in Southbourne, West Sussex, where they grow a vast range of organic fruit and veg over almost 2.5 acres, they welcome everyone from schools and colleges to trainee chefs.
“Here at Tuppenny Barn, our main objective is to teach children where fruit and vegetables come from, the benefits of eating nutritional food and give them the skills to grow and prepare their own meals,” says the founder and CEO, Maggie Haynes.
“As we all know, the battle against obesity is forever growing, with around a quarter of children now leaving primary school overweight. However, by teaching them first-hand about the benefits of eating fresh organic produce, we can hopefully play our part in changing this.”
It’s not only youngsters who benefit from the scheme, however, but the wider community as well. The charity also provides educational experiences to help adults to develop their growing and cooking abilities, alongside countryside skills such as foraging, wreath-making and willow weaving.
“We also have a horticultural therapy project where everyone from veterans and the socially isolated to dementia sufferers can enjoy the benefits of gardening in a safe, supportive environment,” adds Maggie.
One of the highlights of this innovative enterprise is the eco-build education centre, which is home to a professional kitchen, so that visitors can experience a ‘fork to fork’ visit. After learning about the organic crop production, they can then participate in cooking seasonal produce and finally sit down to eat the delicious results.
Designed with sustainable principles at its heart, this striking building also provides a beautiful space for everything from music events and art exhibitions to cookery demonstrations. To give just one example, they recently hosted a seasonal food evening with the eminent food writer Rosemary Moon.
Then there’s the popular shop, open every Thursday and Friday, which sells the fresh organic fruit, vegetables and cut flowers grown on the site, as well as organic fresh bread, cakes and bakes plus eggs and preserves. And for those who prefer home delivery, there is also a veg box scheme – in which you may well find a few surprises.
“We pride ourselves on growing some of the more unusual things that you might not necessarily find in the supermarket,” continues Maggie. “For instance, we produce some 30 different kinds of salad leaves, including specialist varieties such as Namenia, Serifon and Red and Golden Frills. Then there’s our heritage tomatoes, peppers and chillies. We also have a range of different squashes and herbs, and even edible flowers.”
Finally, no trip to Tuppenny Barn would be complete without seeing the soon-to-be expanded wildlife pond with its newly constructed boardwalk; the 134-tree orchard, providing apples, pears and plums; and the onsite beehives – which also provide honey to sell in the shop.
“At the heart of Tuppenny Barn’s approach is the promotion of sustainable living in all its forms,” adds Maggie. “This underpins all that we do and our aspiration is to be a beacon of sustainability for the community that we serve.”
- For more information on Tuppenny Barn, click here