Afternoon Tea at The Bakehouse

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By Helen Martin, privileged guest

Last Thursday saw the gastronomic highlight of the Easter Term; Afternoon Tea in the Bakehouse. Organised by 6.1 Food Enrichment students Lola, Charlotte, Nancy, Sam, Tiger, Lilly, Fleur and Isi, the event was the culmination of two term’s hard work.  Under the guidance of ODW teacher and culinary whizz, Feline, students rose to the challenge of not just feeding 20 members of staff and parents, but making us feel welcome and thoroughly spoiled too.

DYWk3X0X0AIIQHNThe menu included miniature quiches, meringues, scones with rhubarb compote, chocolate orange truffles, cucumber sandwiches, vegan cardamom cookies, chocolate eclairs and Portuguese custard tarts. Furnished with starched linen tablecloths, bunches of spring flowers and platters of exquisite homemade food, the Bakehouse looked more like the Hampshire outpost of a chic members club than a classroom.

A huge amount of work had obviously gone into the event, but it was a relaxed, happy occasion. Creative, heartfelt and unashamedly Bedalian. As Lola says, “You wouldn’t be able to do this at any other school.”

“People were amazed that we were able to come up with it all in such a short time, with so few of us,” continues Fleur. “The sun was shining and everyone was so thankful for the food, it felt like spring was finally here.”

DYWk3XzWAAAWc-TLola, who admits she wasn’t even able to cook before taking the course, says that Food Enrichment hasn’t just been about food: “It was great to cook together; we all worked really well as a group. We learnt about organisation and how to stay calm in the kitchen.”

“It was enjoyable, fun and friendly,” adds Fleur, “I got to work with people I wouldn’t usually hang out with. We learnt that cooking the food can be just as enjoyable as eating it.”

So what’s the secret to a successful afternoon tea? “Practise, organisation… and Feline!” says Lola. “We’re very lucky to have her.”

 

BAC students learn stewardship skills to improve Bedales working farm

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work

As the Block 5 students near the completion of their BAC projects I thought now would be a good time to share some of the fantastic, challenging work they’ve been up to.

This time last year students were busy discussing possible projects and forming groups based upon shared interests, rather than friendships. Encouraging students to work in such groups enables them to develop important life skills, such as teamwork, listening, tolerance and resilience. Students are judged on their journal, the outcome itself, and, most importantly, their approach and attitude towards their work. The common thread running through all the projects is that each must give something back to Outdoor Work or to the community and estate: a form of stewardship where they learn about the importance of looking after the land for the next generation.

For example, Olav, Carter and Oscar have created a meadow between the new Art & Design building and Outdoor Work (above). To do this the boys learned how to split and shape chestnut poles to make ‘post and rail’ fencing. The meadow will soon be home to our two South Down sheep, Sammy and Saoirse.

ODW chicken pen crop (Large)Other projects include the creation of another chicken pen (right) and the restoration of a polytunnel. This will allow us to cater for an additional 20 Sussex Rangers and 20 Amberlink chickens, in order to increase our free-range egg supply (we are constantly being asked for more eggs!). The shed previously known as the Pineapple House has been converted into a potting shed . To do this, Hannah, Annie and Hanna had to learn a range of skills, including brick-laying, blacksmithing, carpentry and leaded window making. Neri, Jo and Aria have been busy continuing the development of the Bakehouse; adding a considerable amount of storage as well as ensuring our new wood-fired bread-oven, built by Keir Rowe, is completely sealed and weather proof in the new Bakehouse extension.

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Our pizza shack has been further developed with a new floor, rendered walls, and the addition of many fixtures and fittings. Flora, Max, Dylan and Cameron have managed all this whilst running it as a business every other week, making on average 45 pizzas each time. A number of chestnut and oak framed outbuildings have been built by Max, Archie, Gus and Finn, to store wood alongside all the reclaimed material that we pride ourselves on recycling. An exciting interactive map has been developed by Michael and Jamie, as well as a bespoke orienteering course around the estate. Thanks to Jamie, Olivia and Oscar there is a new terrace around the ODW office and lots more seating around the barns.

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The continued development of the ODW Shop (below) by Helena and Keziah is particularly exciting. Not only does it look amazing, it also provides a permanent space for us to sell products from the farm and our kitchen. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, because every penny of profit goes back into the development of the farm. And secondly, it allows students to display the end product of all their work. This could be meat from our livestock, bread or baked goods from the Bakehouse, or craft products from the spinning room and forge.

We are having a mini launch/opening for the new shop during the last week of term, on 21, 22 and 23 of March. Please, please, do come and visit. Your support makes such a difference to the students, and really helps them feel that all their hard work has been worthwhile.

We look forward to seeing you then!

ODW Shop peak (Large)

A sneak preview of the new ODW Shop

Creative coppicing – the Bedales way

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By Carter Clothier and Oscar Goldblatt, Block 4

On Wednesday, we, and seven other students got an amazing opportunity to take part in a workshop with The Creative Coppice Company. It was a really fun and productive day and we now have the skills we need to carry out our final BAC project.

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Carter Clothier

For our BAC, Oscar D, Olav and I are making a post and rail fence to surround a new meadow which we will create between the Art & Design building and Outdoor Work. We started the day by learning how to split a piece of chestnut using a hammer and wedges, and we all managed to complete this with ease. We then progressed a little and learnt how to split a much longer bit of chestnut using the same method, but this time we had to split it into four. This was a little trickier and we all ended up with a lot more wasted wood than we would have liked, but nevertheless we all got the hang of it after a few hours.

WP_20170510_14_29_59_Pro cropAfter a well-earned lunch we went back to learn how to finish off the posts and rails. For the posts we had to mark out the location of the mortice and drill 12 holes into the post, this then needed cleaning up with a very sharp chisel. We created six slots for the rail to go into.  This brings me onto the most difficult bit – making the tenons, which is basically a practice of shaping the end of the rail to make it fit into the post. This is usually done with a chainsaw, but in true Bedalian fashion we had to do it the traditional way: using an axe and draw knife.  This slow and painful process consisted of chopping the corners off the quartered bits of chestnut with an axe and then shaving of vast amounts of leftover wood with the draw knife.

This took a long while to get the hang of, but we eventually got it down to about one rail every 25 minutes. By the end we completed around five or six rails. Only 98 more to go…!

Oscar

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Livi, Jamie and I are building a terrace / balcony around the new ODW office as part of our BAC project – the office was refurbished from a grain store by last year’s BAC students.

WP_20170509_10_53_50_Pro cropWe began working on our project by showing Dave, from The Creative Coppice Company, some of our rough sketches and ideas and then we started measuring out some of the sides. Once we had all the sides measured we then calculated that we needed six poles for our design. As a group we started to scrape the bark off the 2 .75m chestnut logs in preparation for marking-out and cutting. Getting set up and trying to ensure all measurements were in the correct orientation on a round pole is very satisfying, yet quite intensive and time-consuming.

However, we feel we picked up enough information to start our projects with confidence. The next step in our project is to dig the holes and position the poles so we can start putting the decking on. We all benefited a lot from this day and I think we would all agree that we would do it again.

Outdoor Work: reaping the fruits of their labour…

In Outdoor Work we have been very busy gathering the harvest produce on our doorstep and making it into all sorts of delicious winter goodies. Just some of the things we have been making are: Apple and tomato chutney, pickled rainbow beets, poached pears in elderflower champagne, elderberry cordial, hay cordial, hay salt (trust us, it’s delicious with roast lamb – Maldon sea salt with smoked hay from the Bedales fields), jam, hedgerow jelly using crab apples and hawthorn berries, plum compote, cider vinegar, apple pies, cakes, bread, pizzas…. The list goes on. There will be a selection of this produce available at reception after half term, and then before Christmas (after the 6.2 Christmas Pudding Bake) there will be mince pies and puddings. We are also expecting the lovely Jacob fleece we sent off last term to be delivered back to us before Christmas as beautiful shawls, scarves and blankets, woven by our mill in Wales. We will also be busy planting up winter bulbs and making other crafts which will make lovely gifts! Available this Saturday from 12.30 -1.30 at the bakehouse: handmade sausages from our very own Oxford Sandy and Black heritage pigs. Two piglets are for also sale – please contact Andrew for more details (amartin@bedales.org.uk).

 

End of term news from ODW

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On Sunday 12 June, Rob the shearer came to Bedales to give our 45 Jacob sheep their annual haircut. This gave us over 50kg of fleece which we have been busy sorting and combining with last year’s in order to send off and have spun into yarn to make blankets and shawls ready for Christmas.

Including this year’s lambs, we currently have over 80 sheep – some of which we would be happy to sell should any parents be interested (please email fcharpentier@bedales.org.uk).

On the pig front, Cher had her first litter of seven little piglets on Tuesday 21 June; mother and babies are doing well – she’s a natural! We are currently fattening four of the February litter ready for butchering in September. If any parents would like to discuss ordering a whole or half pig for a special event in the autumn, please get in touch.

Thanks to the BPA, our first incubation project has gone well: producing 7 chickens from 8 eggs, five are cockerels. On behalf of everybody at ODW, thank you for your support in buying our produce this year. Year-on-year we and the students hope to become more self-sufficient, learning new skills and giving back to the school as a whole.

 

Block 4 fire-up new pizza oven

ODW boys dismantle old oven

The boys dismantle the old oven

Just before the half term break, Jay Emery from Bushman Wood Fired Ovens came to Outdoor Work to build a pizza oven with Raffy Henry and Goose Milton from Block 4. The oven forms the basis of the boys’ BAC project for ODW, where they learn about building and using a traditional clay pizza oven, growing the chillies and tomatoes for the pizza sauce, and learning how to make the right dough. Baking in a sealed wood fired oven is a unique experience, imparting unique flavour and texture to the food cooked inside.

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Materials arrive

Jay spent the whole day with us, assembling a base and then layering different insulators over the basic oven shape. We finished the oven in a clay/vermiculite, and will paint it with a lime paint. We fired it up with a gentle fire (reaching around 200 degrees) last week to allow the layers to set, and will have an inaugural firing-up this Saturday evening. The oven will then reach a top temperature of around 350-400 degrees – perfect for cooking crispy flavoursome pizzas in around 90 seconds!

To honour Jay’s great day with the boys, he has a special offer for Bedales parents and friends: a family sized Bushman Wood Fired Oven with a rustic wooden stand, basic toolkit and free delivery, £2799 incl. VAT, saving £450. In addition for every oven he sells to someone quoting ‘Bedales’, he will donate £100 to ODW to help pay for the boys’ project. Email fcharpentier@bedales.org.uk for more information.

By Feline Charpentier, Teacher of Outdoor Work

Spring in Outdoor Work

Here in Outdoor Work we’re smack bang in the middle of one of the most exciting times of year.

Lambing began last week, all safely delivered and thriving, all of them preposterously cute. There are now only three ewes left to lamb. And these are not our only new arrivals. Thanks to the BPA’s generous gift of an incubator, our chicks are now nearly a month old. They are all doing well, in fact they seem to be growing by the minute and we can’t wait to get them outside. See photos below.

Angelica with pigletsHowever, spring also brings some sad news from the sty: Angelica sadly passed away last week, not long after her piglets got their first taste of freedom in the woods (pictured right). Watching them race each other around the enclosure was lovely; they looked so excited and inquisitive, Angelica will be sadly missed.

Keep up-to-date around the farm with @BedalesOutdoorW on Twitter.

 

 

By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work