Archive for the ‘Skills Sharing, Workshops and Learning’ Category

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The date of the 2018 Off-Grid festival has been set, ticket sales are on and the organisers boast a larger site with about 50% higher capacity.

Previous events were held at Goffin’s Land, Exeter in Devon, now they have moved to Tapeley park, Christie Estates, Instow in North Devon. Click here for a Map of the area.

I first stumbled upon this event last year a mere week or so before the actual event! No money and not having enough time to prepare, as well as not being able to request in such short notice for holiday leave put an end to the possibility of going. I made sure that 2018 will be the year to attend and it seems like I will definitely be able to go, even if only for a day using their cheaper day pass tickets…

It looks like a great event especially for Children, giving them the opportunity to spend quality, fun time away from their phones, computers and tablets.

Switch off, tune in, turn on …

 

The above video is footage from the 2016 event as a promotional for 2017’s event.

Below is more of the 2016 event and shows a little more including all of the entertainment side.

If one is interested in Off-Grid methods, even just out of interest sake or to learn a thing or two, take a look below at the extensive workshops list for each day from 2016, I can’t believe a 3 day event was just so jam packed ! ! !

 

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In a quest to try find out what happened to my childhood and to see if there are any alternatives for the future Generations, I stumbled upon something which I suspected existed but was not entirely sure how or what it would have even been labeled, let alone whether it would be clear from all too common government bureaucracy !

Well it does exist, mostly in Scandinavian countries but also across europe including Germany, Austria and is now being spread across the globe from Australia to the continental North America – even England is finally catching on (Although upon searching, there are quite a few listed individuals online but the ones anywhere remotely near my residence are only offering days-out sessions, it is not an actual school type Monday to Friday setting).

The Forest kindergarten is quite a popular theme and is growing in demand – 10% of all kindergartens in Denmark are Forest kindergartens, in this >12 minute quick documentary ”Kids Gone Wild” from an Australian media group (SBS Dateline), they visit a kindergarten in Denmark and get the chance to interview parents, the Pedagogue (teacher) as well as a teacher from a general primary school where kids from both normal kindergardens and forest kindergardens will converge to continue with their education.

Pedagogue: Only once I had to drive a boy to the Hospital with a big injury in 17 years, so I’m not worried,
Interviewer: And what was the injury?
Pedagogue: It was a parent who drove over the foot of a kid

Below some kids are having great fun building sculptures in the snow whilst being educated about famous Art:

 

Testimonials I have seen from people online discussing the difference between their own kid’s and friends or other family who went to forest schools / kindergartens is quite intriguing, the forest educated kids always want to be outside no matter the weather whilst the ‘normal’ kids seem to be more concerned with Television or other indoor technology such as tablets, smartphones or TV / Computer games which they spend countless hours on.

As a child who grew up in the eighties, I was there when the first TV gaming systems came out and subsequently get every console that came after due to a sibling being completely obsessed, however, we at least only spent a couple of hours at a time playing, we would then on our own accord, go outside to play. These days kids can spend up to 16 hours playing only stopping to rush to the toilet or boil a kettle to make unhealthy pot noodle soups!

For any of my UK followers or viewers who may want to see if there are any nearby, visit the Forest Kindergardten Association’s site.

This is kind of my own invention (The Design), I got the idea from the mirror strings you can buy from some garden centers which sell them as pigeon deterrents. The issue with the latter is that they are cheaply made (small mirrors glued to fishing line – that’s it!) and they don’t last many heavy wind sessions before you see them broken all over the ground (I have seen this happen probably around 20 times in the last 4 years).

So I decided to design my own – with the emphasis on lasting, and not really as a pest deterrent but more as a Garden Ornament. I also took some inspiration from a Permaculture book I read which had a reflection chart (depicting the reflection values of various objects from Aluminium foil to wood, rocks etc.).

Tools:

  • Timber Saw
  • Wood Glue (PVA) or Silicone Glue if preferred
  • Drill and Screws
  • 4x wood screw type vine eyes (screws with a closed loop on top)
  • Strong Fishing Line or Thin Cable / Wire
  • Wire Cutters and Pliers

Optional:

  • Some Colourful Outdoor Paint / or just wood varnish
  • brush / es
  • Sealant spray paint (if you use indoor paint instead of outdoor)

Materials:

  • Long-ish piece of Timber (square profile – about 4cm x 4cm x any length you like), you may need to use the same piece to cut the supports to hold the Charm
  • Small Mirrors, get mixed shapes if you like (known as Mosaic or Tile Mirrors)
  • Sea Shells (optional)
  • Glass Gems (also known as flat marbles) – (optional)
  • Pool Tiles (optional)

In the following diagram, you merely cut out a couple of wedges from two of the sides of the timber, these you will stick to the other two sides to create angled surfaces to place more mirrors ( we want many mirrors reflecting in various directions and angles, so please don’t be regimentalised when you are cutting – let go of the OCD for this project ! )

Jeff's Garden Solar Charm 1

Garden Solar Charm – Diagram 1

Now go ahead and glue your various mirrors onto the angled surfaces as well as on the flat areas, you can decorate the rest of the free space with Glass Gems, maybe a few flat sided crystals, sea shells and pool tiles (create patterns, you can get very small mini pool tiles which are about 1/4th the size of the standard small pool tile).

gard solar 2

Garden Solar Charm – Diagram 2

Once all is dry and happy, you can paint around the decorations and mirrors or varnish (I prefer to paint / varnish later, I didn’t want the mirrors etc. to be glued onto paint – this was a personal preferance) then go on to taping the mirrors with edging tape or electrical tape so you can spray it a few times with sealant spray – this helps to protect against environmental wear as well as an extra barrier to hold the objects on and reinforce them a bit more.

Now screw in one vine eye on each end (top and bottom) to attach your swivels to and then the wire / fishing line or cables. It is now up to you to decide where and how you will hang your new ornament in your garden, I attached it to a fence pole by cutting two timber pieces (+- 35cm long each with a 45 degree cut on one end), attached these to the pole and then screwed one vine eye subsequently on the end of each of these supports. The charm was first tied onto the top support with about 10cm of fishing gut between the vine eye and the swivel, the next was tied whilst the charm was hanging, this gave me a chance to decide on how taught I want it tied, I went for only slightly with a bit of give.

gard solar 3

Garden Solar Charm – Diagram 3

An that’s it! You can be as creative or simple as you like, you could even cut the timber into more than one section with an assortment of swivels so that each can rotate in different angles, at different speeds etc, the options are pretty much endless …

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I know this is a little late as the event was almost two weeks ago, but things are a little busy on the allotment and others.

Upon arriving at the festival and moving on into the Garden, I was a little worried that the event this year was watered down a bit or at least will have far fewer people attending, But, within an hour or so and after attending the first workshop, things picked up rather nicely.

For anyone who would like to attend the event in the future but have been holding back due to the distance, just keep in mind that to make the journey worth while, the event is held just minutes walk away from the Camden Market area, Regent’s Park and the London Zoo as well as the local Regent’s Canal. If one does not want to walk the entire distance to Camden Market just for a bite to eat, there are many restaurants and Cafe’s between Camden Town Station and the Cecil Sharp House.
Although, the event together with all of the various workshops should keep you busy for the whole 6 hours!

The book stand operated by Permanent Publications was, as usual, one of the busiest stalls in the Market at the festival (no surprise there), the Rare Plant Nursery Edulis was there also as usual but with what seemed like fewer plants this year when compared to previous years yet still with a good variety available (or is it perhaps that I arrived a little late and much of the stock was already sold?)
They source, grow and sell rare edible plants including bulbs, climbers (vines), nitrogen fixers, berry plants, herbs and more, if you missed this year’s event and like what Edulis stocks, they now offer delivery so you can order in an online / mailorder type setting. I currently own about 8 various shrub, berry and edible plants from them and can highly recommend their stock including two of my favourite berry plants Japanese Wineberry (Rubus phoenicolasius) and Chokeberry (Aronia prunifolia)[ 2-3 varieties offered]. The owner of Edulis is a Permaculturist himself and therefore many of these plants will have more than one function in a design.


I further found hand crafted teas, soaps, agricultural tools for sale, hemp health products, moringa health products and the ever present Cake Stand with it’s attention to the various diets of festival attendees. There were protest and awareness stands, childrens activities from storytelling, bug hunting in the garden etc.

Permablitz London were also there doing some work, I unfortunately didn’t manage to go see exactly what, but a general idea is mentioned on the Timetable image at the top of this post  article. Permablitzing is a very good eay to learn and get some real practical experience in Permaculture with some insight into how designs are implemented and function. Once you attend 3 Permablitzes, you can get one done at your property, allotment / community garden or even nominate a friend / family members property to receive a ‘Permaculture Overhaul’.

In conclusion, this was honestly the most successful one that I have attended over the years having met loads of people doing very interesting work not only locally but internationally as well and I shall be attending these events every year onwards …

I will post again when I know the date of the 2018 festival.

I came across this festival via a pamphlet I got at the London Permaculture Festival last week and decided to help promote it, unfortunately the date of the event is just next week and is far too late for me to be able to even attampt to attend. I will now hopefully be able to book it for next year if possible …

This years event will be held between Thursday 10th to Saturday 13th of August 2017 and you can still book tickets on their website.

o g f 2017 ao g f 2017

Watching the video (3.5 mins long) this is definitely an event which is worthwhile to go to, I’m sadly going to miss the opportunity this year, it looks excellent especially for kids!

For those who are unable to watch the video or stream it for some reason, the following are some of the events and things to do at the festival based on last year’s video:

  • Archery,
  • Off Grid College,
  • Crafts and Tech area,
  • Well Being Area,
  • The Wildwood,
  • Off Grid Kids Area,
  • Live Music Barn,
  • Eco Build Demos
  • Organic Food and Drink,
  • Family Camping.

Another World Is Possible

Off Grid Festival Website (Click Here).

Other courses / talks on offer are:

New Economy – Permaculture – Eco-Build – 12v Technology (solar / wind power) – Bushcraft – Growing Food – Low-Impact Living – Land – Social Enterprise – Community Housing – Energy – Forest School – Conflict Resolution – Foraging & Wild Medicine – Yoga – Dance & Meditaion

Honestly, I’m contemplating faking a semi serious illness to get off from work now …. đŸ™‚