Discover Tuppenny Barn this summer and step into a wonderful world of organic, sustainable gardening
Founded in 2005, the ethos of this Sussex-based educational charity is simple: to help educate children, and the wider community, to love the great outdoors and to grow their own food organically and sustainably.
“At the heart of Tuppenny Barn’s approach is the promotion of sustainable living in all its forms,” explains Maggie Haynes, Founder and CEO. “This underpins all that we do and our aspiration is to be a beacon of sustainability for the community we serve.”
Passionate about food and knowing where food comes from, at Tuppenny they grow their own fruit and vegetables the organic way because it’s better for our health and our planet as it works with nature not against it.
“Cultivating and harvesting organic produce, to create learning experiences for all ages that promote the benefits of growing, cooking and eating organic produce is key to what we do,” adds Maggie.
The enthusiasm of the students comes across in spades; ‘Tuppeny Barn is a place where we can see and touch nature,’ says one. ‘I loved cutting the spinach to make our muffins,’ adds another. ‘I now know that a ladybird can eat up to a hundred aphids a day!’
Sharing the ethos of the National Garden Scheme’s Gardens and Health campaign, the Tuppenny team also provide facilities, information and advice of the benefits to physical and mental health through engagement in organic horticulture. While their sustainable Education Centre is used by the local community for meetings, lectures, classes and other recreational and leisure activities.
With sessions for pre-school tots to teenagers, Tuppenny Barn offers a wonderful, hands-on learning experience.
“Each school term brings young people on school and college trips,” explains Abi, the Senior Education Officer. “Students have an opportunity to learn about the outdoor environment and our Education Centre has a professional cooking facility so they can experience a ‘fork to fork’ visit, where they can crop produce on site, participate in cooking seasonal produce and then sit down to eat it.
“We also run after school clubs, work experience and Duke of Edinburgh placements and work with students who have special needs. During holidays we run workshops with an environmental theme, and Tuppenny becomes an outdoor classroom.”
As well as children, Tuppenny Barn also caters for adults that might have physical disabilities, be socially isolated or have mental health issues and runs weekly garden therapy sessions. Clients attend either by GP referral, social prescription, other NHS groups or self-referral.
“We have recently undertaken an exciting new project developing a Social Horticulture Therapy facility Nuture Nature. There is increasing evidence of the benefits of gardening therapy in improving emotional wellbeing as well as physical health, social functioning and vocational opportunities. We feel that Tuppenny is perfectly suited to provide a safe and encouraging environment for vulnerable individuals that would benefit from this support,” adds Maggie.
In June and again in October, for the first time, Tuppenny Barn is opening its doors for the National Garden Scheme offering visitors a taste of the good life on offer. As well as visiting the eco-barn where they teach kids about healthy cooking and eating, visitors will all be invited to explore the outdoor classroom. There is also easy access to the Heritage Orchard and the flower and vegetable beds.
“Our soft fruit cages will be bursting with berries ready for the Pick Your Own in June and the wildlife pond, beehives and bug hotel will be buzzing with life. And our famous organic homemade Cream Teas will be served in the marquee. There’ll be plenty to see and do for all the family,” says Maggie.
Tuppenny Barn opens for the National Garden Scheme on Sunday 30th June and Sunday 6th October. For more information click here.