Hockerton Housing Project is celebrating 20 years since the first residents moved into the project back in those cool days of 1998. Not only have the houses worked but we have gone on to help other people design their own energy efficient homes all over the country.

Our educational tours seem to be as popular as ever as does our work using the natural environment to help nurture mental health. Community engagement in renewable energy project and conservation also continues apace. Our latest edition to our armoury is a thermal imaging camera which will help us to identify where a home is leaking the most heat energy.

We had a very busy July with many schools coming some from as far away as Solihull. Thankfully sustainability is now on the GCSE curriculum for both Design and Technology and Geography and a visit here covers all the relevant outcomes for the students. It is great to see how engaged the young people are, hear how many questions and ideas they have, and feel hopeful for the future with their enthusiasm to make a difference. Some previous students are now coming back as young teachers which does make me feel a bit old!

We have managed the recent dry spell well. A lack of water was always planned for when our houses and the landscape were designed. Our reservoir at the top of the site supplies our washing water; we had 150 days in reserve at the start of the drought with no shortages so far. This weather has been multiplying the algae growth though, so the filters have been working overtime.

"Make hay whilst the sun shines..." well that is what we did at Hockerton Housing Project this year and thank goodness we did! If the sunshine continues we will need the hay sooner than we thought to feed the sheep as there is very little grass left.

We were really lucky to have a Permaculture course run here over the last few months with Luke and Joy Justice facilitating the course. Luke is the son of one of the founding families of the project. He went to the Minster school here in Southwell. Luke, Joy and Paul Paine will be running another course here on 29th & 30th September. This course is a great way to find out more about permaculture. You will learn about the principles and ethics as well as looking at design, observation and practical examples. The cost is £80 (a limited number of subsidised places available at £40). You can book via www.hockertonhousingproject.org.uk/shop or phone 01636 816902. Also a warm welcome to the world to baby Sam, Luke and Joy's son.

Thanks to Veolia for supporting our Sustainable Living Tours this year. It has almost tripled the number of people coming to see the project at weekends and going away with their own ideas of how to live more sustainably. Reducing waste especially plastic is a hard nut to crack. We will be running six more Saturday tours over the next year the first one on 8th September at 2pm – book via the website. NG25 residents it is only £2.50 thanks to a subsidy from Sustainable Hockerton.
Finally, to see us on TV and get a tour for free have a look at Countryfile Diaries which was filmed here in July broadcast on 30th August on BBC One.

Debbie Yates
Hockerton Housing Project