CHILDREN will be able to learn about how to grow food sustainably as a £300,000 eco-friendly education centre is nearing completion.
Tuppenny Barn, off Main Road, Southbourne, near Emsworth, is a 2.4-acre smallholding, providing organic vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers and plants for local people.
Since 2005, when the land was bought by Maggie Haynes and her husband, it has gone from strength and strength and now the not-for-profit social enterprise wants to provide more facilities to help schoolchildren learn about the environment.
The project has been boosted by a donation of £2,500 from the Portsmouth and Havant branch of Hampshire Friends of The Earth.
Mrs Haynes, 54, who spent 21 years in the intelligence corps of the army, said: ‘We were delighted to receive a contribution from Friends of the Earth.
‘The money is going towards education and information technology equipment. The project at the moment is about three quarters of the way there.
‘We are still fundraising and we still have about £85,000 to go.
‘We hope to get it finished by January 2014. It’s very much a green building in every shape and form – all the materials are natural or recycled.’
The centre features innovative features, such foundations made from 400 recycled car tyres, lime-rendered straw bales to insulate the walls, a large cedar shingle roof and a living plant wall.
As well as school visits, the centre can be used by the community. Courses will include planting a fruit orchard, establishing a flower garden and bee keeping.
Ray Cobbett, a member of Friends of The Earth, said it was a very worthwhile project to support.
He said: ‘It’s aiming at the next generation of schoolchildren and that’s where it all starts. This is teaching children about how nature works.’