Sustainability Centre & Woodcraft School

Back in May the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire was hosting its May Fair. I decided to take my kids down for the day with one of their friends and I was joined for the day by my friend Rick. Thankfully the rain kept off until it was time to go home.

I love going down to the Sustainability Centre as there is such a wide range of things for both kids and adults to do. They even have an area for hammocking which is always a bonus for me.

Rick arrived on his motorbike and the kids all got to sit on it. I think Finlay was most taken with the bike though.

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Arrival and already thinking of his future

We went for a good wander around the woods and had a few finds through the day. Catherine was a little bit sad to find a dead wood pigeon. I was more taken with the stove than the kids I think but we were all fascinated by the squirrel print that my friend John Rhyder pointed out.

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Our finds

The centre has a number of tipis and yurts for hire which were all open for the day so the kids were straight in there.

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Best Friends Forever

There were many stands displaying alternative technologies and lifestyles but the kids loved the Dream Catcher lady the most.

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Dream Catcher Construction

After finishing their Dream Catchers we found a bug hotel and its little sign.

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Dream Catchers and Bug Hotel

My friend John runs Woodcraft School. I trained under John on his instructor programme back in 2008, a course I thoroughly enjoyed and got a great deal out of – I would recommend it to anyone.
At the fair John was leading a walk looking at the different plants that were starting to come through that month, both edible and medicinal.

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John Rhyder of Woodcraft School leading a walk on edible and medicinal plants

We looked at quite a number of plants such as wild strawberry and ribwort plantain.

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Edibles – Wild Strawberry and Ribwort Plantain

Other plants included silverweed and nettle. Finlay was a bit dubious at first even though he has eaten some before but did venture a little nibble of nettle.

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Nettle tasting

A plant that was covered in a lot of detail was herb bennett – also known as wood avens. Its root has a very clove-like smell and so was hung up in wardrobes to ward off moths. It is a plant still used today in some areas to flavour beer and has many medicinal uses. A good site that goes into more detail on the plant is Dals Wildlife site.

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Discussion on herb bennett

Next on the list was burdock, a great plant for the carbohydrates found in its root. The whole plant is edible but the leaf is a tad on the bitter side (in fact to be honest it’s absolutely horrible). I don’t think the girls were taken with it. It was good to hear John covering these plants again and it reminded me that I needed to get my books out again.

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Burdock tasting

Ever seen a greenhouse made out of plastic bottles? If not come down here and see for yourself. We were all gaping at this thing – so simple but at the same time so complex.

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Plastic Bottle Greenhouse

One of the reasons the kids love to come down here is the circus area. I must admit to trying and failing miserably on the unicycle πŸ™‚

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The Circus

At the end of the day it was a tractor trip to the carpark and home.

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End ex and off home on the tractor (well to the car really)

This is a great place to visit for the day or to camp over. There are areas dedicated to the growing of wild plants and to displaying sustainable ways of living. There are bushcraft and green woodworking courses on offer and there is a beautiful Natural Burials woodland to stroll in.

Maybe see you there next year.

Cheers

George

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