The South Downs Green Fair 2017

Permaculture magazine
Tuesday, 16th May 2017

The South Downs Green Fair in Hampshire is a fun family event, with local food and drink, eco stalls, crafts, bushcraft and kids entertainment. It features workshops and talks from experts such as Charles Dowding and Stephanie Hafferty, and stalls from many sustainable businesses including Permaculture magazine.

Leading ‘no dig gardeners’ and authors Charles Dowding & Stephanie Hafferty launched their new book No Dig Organic Home & Garden at this year’s South Downs Green Fair (SDGF) Read on for their top observation on raised beds, slugs and snails.

The South Downs Fair takes place every May at The Sustainability Centre’s 55 acre site in Hampshire. Around 3,000 people attend. There are hands-on activities for all, alongside craft and woodland stalls, local food and drink, children’s activists and demonstrations. A medieval style bushcraft village featured fire-lighting, blacksmithing and campfire cooking. There is also bow drills, chalk carving, willow weaving, coppice crafting, plant and seed swaps and informative talks. 

PM asked Stephanie if Charles and her both enjoyed the South Downs Green Fair 2017, and what their impressions were?

"Yes, we had a great time. It is such a lovely festival, a great venue and really friendly atmosphere with so much to see and do. It was great to see so many people there, a real family day out."

You launched your new book at the event and gave two talks during the day, what questions do you find yourselves being asked the most at such events and at courses you host at yours?

"The questions are usually very varied and depend on a person’s situation,” said Stephanie. “Market gardeners may want to know more about optimum yields, profitable crops and marketing ideas; home gardeners want to know more about growing to feed their families all year round. We are mostly asked about different kinds of mulches, composting methods, what to do with all of the delicious home grown veg, how to start no dig and, of course, how to deal with pests. I also get asked a lot about different ways of using plants to make potions for the home and garden."

During your talk you mentioned the ‘slug’ word and people always seem to want to know what to do about slugs. Could you talk about the pros and cons of raised beds and slugs in your experience?

"Most of our raised beds do not have wooden sides,” explains Stephanie, "which can provide a habitat for slugs and snails who like to live next to the timber. Our beds are made with compost and are just a few centimetres higher than the earth paths. Our methods of using composted mulches and keeping the plot weed free reduces habitat for slugs, lessening the problem. Organic methods and wilder edges in the garden help encourage a good balance of natural predators too."

It was a bit of a coup attracting Charles and Stephanie to the event and we hope other prominent names will visit in future years. No Dig Organic Home & Garden is a masterclass, offering to save you time and work. The book explains how to set up a no dig garden large or small and describes how to:

  • Make compost and enrich soil
  • Learn skills you need to sow and grow annual and perennial veg
  • Harvest, store and prepare food all year round
  • Make natural cosmetics, cleaning products and garden preparations

“This event gets better and better every year. Organised by a small team of staff who down tools from their normal day job to put this fair together and a mass of volunteers it is a special day for all. The funds raised enable us to take another step in our Leaves for Learning fundraising campaign,” said Christine Seaward, the Sustainability Centre’s manager.

If you are interested in having a stall or attending in 2018 please contact:

The Sustainability Centre is the home of Permaculture magazine and we have our book stall at the event each year. It is a great way to meet us in person.

To advertise your event, course, services or products within the pages of Permaculture (print, digital, online) contact: [email protected]

Useful links

No Dig Organic Home and Garden