A unique two-day fundraising ‘weekend in the woods’ is to take place on June 23 and 24 in aid of a pioneering new ‘roundhouse’ outdoor classroom and community building at Harting Primary School.
At the heart of the event will be a one-time opportunity to view a round timber-frame eco-woodland house in Elsted, home of charcoal producer Chris Wall-Palmer, his wife Lucy and their four children.
Debbie Pattinson, co-chairman of Harting School PTA and roundhouse designer, said: “Over the past few years, the school has grown in the number of pupils and classes. We have worked hard to build community links and have actively promoted ‘Learning Outside the Classroom’ (LOtC).
“This roundhouse development will continue both traditions, forging new links with the community, extending learning beyond the classroom and helping to develop the grounds to enrich the children’s education. At the same time, it will be a model of sustainable building involving local craftsmen from the school and village community and will provide a space for use by the community beyond the school.”
She said the roundhouse, which has been designed by volunteers and would be built by renowned eco-builder Ben Law with his team and the local community, would be available to be used free by Harting village youth groups and organisations.
“We would also like the building to become an obvious location for community initiatives such as the South Downs proposed mobile apple press, enabling villagers to work with children to process the year’s apple harvest.”
In addition it would be a social focus for the school, providing a place at playtimes, as well as space for class circle time, school council meetings and performance space for drama and poetry.
The event takes place in Ingram’s Copse woods at Elsted Marsh, owned by the Wall-Palmers. It will include tours of the Wall-Palmers’ cruck frame straw bale home built using local materials and traditional techniques by Chris Wall-Palmer, with the help of renowned natural builder Ben Law from Lurgashall.
Lucy Wall-Palmer said: “Three of our children attend Harting School which has always impressed us with its attitude and policies towards sustainability.
“Chris and I have been planning and building our own sustainable home in our woodland for four years. We are delighted to be able to support the school by hosting this woodland fair.”