Hayes Urban Teaching Farm: An Educational Agricultural Experience

Claire Hayes Urban Teaching Farm

Claire Hayes Urban Teaching Farm

“In the spring of 2016 , I came home to New Brunswick after 2 months away, getting my hands dirty and learning about small-scale farming, homesteading, and bee keeping in New England. I was ready to find my next calling in the local food scene here at home. While continuing to work part time with a local food retailer that I loved, a long-time customer told me about their goal of starting a learn-to-farm program in the city. She invited me to join in and I began volunteering with the Hayes Urban Teaching Farm project. In February 2017 I was so lucky to start working full time on the project.

Food has a natural ability to bring us together; it is not only a necessity, but also one of the major joys of life. The positive environmental and social impacts a healthy food system can have are impressive, not to mention the health benefits and rewards that come from producing your own food. In working to create more earth-friendly farmers in an agriculturally hungry province, there will be significant rewards and a massive potential for positive change in our rural communities.

I am the outreach coordinator for the Hayes Urban Teaching Farm project, and so have the opportunity to tell our story to anyone and everyone that wants to hear it, keep momentum up, work to fit the puzzle pieces together, and collaborate with the rest of our enthusiastic team to dream this brilliant project into reality!

When the pilot program gets off the ground in less than 2 months (eep!), I will be sliding into a different role and will be taking the farmer training course. I guess that this is the year that I find out if I actually have the chops to be a farmer! It’s been a wild time helping to get the project so far in a relatively short amount of time, and things are looking gooooood! Thanks for your interest and support and keep in touch! ”

You can find out More about Claire and the work that Hayes Urban Teaching farm carry out on their campaign page:

An Inclusive Children’s Story in Auslan (Australian Sign Language)



Auslan Story Image“Hi! We’re Jen and Kerrie!

We’re friends, we love books and we don’t have perfect hearing.

As mothers, and one of us a teacher, we’ve had the privilege of reading to children for a number of years. Not only is it a wonderful bonding experience, but it also creates a foundation for every child’s language development. However, as you might imagine, story time becomes a little different for families with members who are deaf, and we’d like that to change.

We were once deaf children who’ve now become parents, and we’ve always struggled to find books that recognise or engage children who use Auslan (Australian Sign Language) as their language. Based on our experiences growing up, we’ve written and are self-publishing the first of what will become (with your help!) a series of bilingual Auslan storybooks for families with deaf or hard of hearing members.

Our goal is to bridge the gap between the two languages and support the development of children’s language in the early years. It’s also a fantastic introduction to the world of Auslan for both the hearing and deaf communities, and another big step in ensuring every child sees themselves represented in the wider world.

The pages are set up with pure Auslan images on one side, terrifically drawn up by our skilled and deaf illustrator, Shaun Fahey. The opposite page will display the story illustrations, wonderfully drawn by our U.K based illustrator, Janet King, with the English sentences underneath, making it truly bilingual. All our stories will include everyday vocabulary and expressions to support the language development of young children, and display common signs used every day.

Ultimately we’d love our books to spark a sense of pride in children and parents who are deaf, engage the children in story time, and allow them to bond with their parents as they explore the stories. It will make them ask questions, make predictions and take delight in seeing their families represented in these stories.  

Jump onto Chuffed today, and pre-order your copy of the first book .Thanks everyone for your support so far. We’ve reached half of our goal in just 2 days!  

Visit our Facebook page for updates and further information: https://www.facebook.com/tallgiraffepublishing00/ . ”

You can also find out more about Jen and Kerrie’s amazing story on their campaign page:

The 21 Taras Thangkha: Exhibiting the World’s Largest Free-Standing Painting

21 Taras Picture

21 Taras Picture“I wasn’t looking for mental development. I was a cynical materialist when I met a journalist and author of Big Love, Lama Yeshe’s life story. She had a HUGE picture of Tibetan Lama Yeshe, and told me the story of the Actress and the Lamas and how Kopan Monastery in Nepal was born. Anything she quoted from the Lamas made logical sense. In 1984 she suggested I work at Tara Institute to help run a small computer services business there.

One day I got a parking ticket out the front of Tara Institute and came in cursing. My Buddhist nun colleague, Venerable Tsapel, laughed and said, “Rejoice that it was you and not someone else who got the ticket.” I scoffed. She continued, “Think of the pleasure it gave the parking inspector to give you a ticket!” I laughed out loud and she said, “There, it works. You can’t laugh and be angry at the same time.” A few months later I was in Bodh Gaya, India, listening to His Holiness the Dalai Lama teach BIG LOVE, unconditional love for ALL beings, in the company of 8,000 Tibetan monks and nuns, 1500 Westerners, and 300,000 Tibetans from all over the continent.

An occasional student, (a mum and travelling a lot for my work in equal rights training), I’ve been a member of Tara Institute for 35 years. Then, in 2017, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, head of the worldwide organisation FPMT, gave Tara Institute the 21 Taras Thangka! I put my hand up to help crowdfund, with Chuffed.org, to enable exhibitions of the LARGEST STAND-ALONE PAINTING IN THE WORLD.

Working with a team of members, friends and relatives, all fired up with Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa’s BIG LOVE energy, it’s been a joy sharing the context and the enchanting images of Tara the Liberator and her 21 emanations. Tara represents the enlightened actions of all the Buddhas, the wisdom that is the Mother of all the Buddhas, and unconditional BIG LOVE for ALL beings. Just looking at the precise sacred geometry of a thangka calms the mind and is ideal for those of us who find meditation challenging!

In uncertain times, a shortcut to inner peace has been easy news to share.
First chance to see it, even for the artist! White Night Melbourne, Hamer Hall, 7pm-7am February 17 (Day 2 of the Lunar New Year)”

To read more about the amazing story of the 21 Taras Thangka, have a look at their campaign page here:

Food as Medicine: Leafy’s Story


“I’m Claire McDonnell, qualified Nutrition Advisor, mum and therapeutic diet keynote speaker in the UK and USA. Finding the right nutrition for our daughter and son’s health conditions at the right time prevented dire long term health consequences.

We plan to provide nutrition information and resources that we needed as a family when our children were most poorly. We don’t feel that finding the right information should be left to chance.

Our Food as Medicine story

When my otherwise healthy baby daughter Leafie was only 6 months old when she experienced her first seizure. It lasted a terrifying 25 minutes and she was bluelighted into the local hospital for treatment. Unfortunately lengthy and distressing seizures began to reoccur until little Leafie was suffering a debilitating 60+ daily seizures a day. Her overall health, sleep and ability to enjoy a typical childhood were being taken away and our young family were suffering from exhaustion and distress.

We researched until we came across a Canadian parent’s blog that had used a diet to reduce their young daughter’s seizures. The more we read about their Ketogenic diet the more impressive it appeared.

We started Leafie on the Ketogenic diet around her second birthday, enjoying a ‘keto’ birthday carrot cake as one of her first foods. Within 2 days of her diet
changes the majority of her seizures (up to 45 minutes long) had stopped and three years later most have not returned. Leafie’s sleep, confidence and smile returned swiftly, she became her happy, active, bright self again.

As well as the astonishing change in my daughter’s health this is also remarkable as the diet is well known, with much evidence behind it demonstrating how successful it is in treating seizures and yet it is rarely considered as a treatment option.

Our confidence in the ability of food to improve health came from having also
restored our son Rudie’s skin to glowing health after 2 years of eczema, hives and alopecia, again all through diet! Again nutrition was not a consideration in his treatment by the medical community.

Our Project Leafie appeal
With experience of taking on severe eczema and epilepsy with foods we now want to help other families to find the diets that can help their health too!


We quickly raised over half of our campaign target of £6,000! We need to raise Claire £6,000 total so that we can:-
• Provide a free family nutrition introduction course
• Populate our leafie.org website with evidence and information to help families
get started
• Publish family’s stories of using nutrition to manage a variety of health
conditions; included Bowel Disease, Epilepsy and Eczema. ”


Read more on Claire, Leafy and Rudie’s experiences with a Ketogenic diet on their campaign page:

Progressive Podcast Australia: A Podcast for Activists

Progressive Podcast Australia

Progressive Podcast Australia“We are Nick and Katie. Nick is a sociologist, Katie is a social justice lawyer and we are both activists. We have been involved in a wide variety of social movements, including animal rights, Occupy, refugee rights and workers’ rights. We are both passionate about social change and as when we first got together as partners we would regularly discuss political issues. These discussions turned into Progressive Podcast Australia over 6 years ago, starting during the worldwide Occupy movement that highlighted economic inequality. We do this podcast in our spare time, around work and other commitments.

We started the podcast partly out of our frustration about the neglect of activist voices in the mainstream media, who generally only give activists a few seconds to get their message out, in the rare times they are given a voice at all. We were also concerned about the limited range of perspectives given in the mainstream media generally. In the spirit of alternative, independent and activist media, our podcast gives a voice to Left, progressive and anarchist voices and ideas that are neglected in the mainstream media. We cover a wide range of human rights, animal rights and environmental issues.

We are currently running a crowdfunding campaign to help us buy some new recording equipment and are also giving supporters a chance to choose the topics we cover on the show this year. We have reached the half way point of our goal so will buy a second microphone stand, which will be a big improvement on the board games we are currently using as a second mic stand! We appreciate any support in helping us get to our full goal and if we achieve this we will also be able to buy a new microphone. ”

You can read more about Nick and Katie’s podcast for social change here:

The Inception of Saved by Soup: Helping Homeless People with Mental Health

Saved by Soup Image

Saved by Soup Image

“Two years ago, while on a lunch break, I walked past the Whitfield Street soup kitchen in central London. It is next door to my office – we are neighbours. At the time, I wasn’t sure it was a soup kitchen, but I had regularly noticed crowds of people outside  – people whose look and demeanour suggested they were homeless or had fallen on hard times. There I was with my £7 lunch from Pret-A-Mange, in the privileged position of having a good job, and a roof over my head and I was walking past… again.

In that moment I decided to go in and find out what was going on. I met the then manager (Miranda) and in that brief meeting I realised I could help her, and she could help me. She needed volunteers, and I had access to a couple of hundred people who work in the business I help to run (I am the managing director at an international media business. People who work in this environment tend to be from privileged backgrounds). I felt we could do with a sense of perspective: We all moan about our lives, work and pressure , but by comparison to rough sleepers and the long term homeless, what have we got to complain about!?

Fast forward to the present day and everyone at MKTG (my business), and its sister agencies (Posterscope and PSI) are weekly volunteers. We help prepare food, work front of house and raise funds to keep the larder stocked. We have got to know many of the customers, and this has given us a sense of purpose and helped us understand that homelessness is closely linked to mental health issues. Many of the guests at Whitfield St have such issues, which if left untreated, ensures they will remain homeless. Simultaneously, the sufferers we know have become disengaged with their health problems. The reasons for this are complex but include the reduction of funding for mental health outreach in the NHS. Being homeless also reduces the likelihood of being seen by a mental health professional.

After a company brainstorm we had the idea to launch a crowd funding campaign to create London’s first ever mental health drop-in centre inside the soup kitchen. We aim to connect guests back to their mental health issues in a trusted environment, and provide a model for all soup kitchens in London.”

You can have a look at Michael’s campaign to help Homeless people with their mental health, here:

Paper Airplanes: Skype Learning for Syrians

Paper Airplanes Team

Cheryl Hagan Paper Airplanes

“My name is Cheryl and I began tutoring with Paper Airplanes in the Spring of 2016. I had just returned from studying abroad in Istanbul, Turkey where I witnessed firsthand the lack of resources and infrastructure that Syrian refugees face. As a former refugee from Sierra Leone, who immigrated to Boston when I was six years old, I know the struggles of trying to learn English, which was my third language. I actually remember not speaking at all in first grade and remembering that struggle made me want to help a fellow refugee through their language journey.

Paper airplanes strives to unlock opportunities with live online language and skills instruction for conflict-affected teens and adults in the Middle East. We are a start-up nonprofit using technology to provide free, virtual, one-on-one language and skills instruction to people affected by conflict. We provide the tools people need to pursue education, secure employment, and ultimately, rebuild their lives. We teach English, Turkish, computer coding for women, and journalism to youth and adults inside of Syria and displaced across the Middle East and North Africa.

Paper Airplanes is working to address needs for skills acquisition, accessible training, and individualized instruction. We use Skype to match volunteer tutors and trainers with these conflict-affected students in the Middle East. Our programs rely on hundreds of volunteers who provide one-on-one personalized instruction. Learners enrolled in our classes receive individual support as they search for scholarships, apply to universities, write CVs, or enter the job market.

After two years of operating as a program on college campuses, Paper Airplanes grew from just 10 pairs of students and tutors to 325 per semester. We’ve served over 1,200 beneficiaries to date, and our work has been featured nationally and internationally.

We have an incredibly dedicated team of people willing to volunteer their time. We are harnessing the widespread volunteering power and interest from American college students who are passionate about tutoring and doing their part to help mitigate the repercussions of the global refugee crisis.”

Discover more about Cheryl’s journey with Paper Airplanes and their work to refugees, here:

Giving Rigby House Children the Freedom to Learn

Sarah, Jamie and Lisa from Rigby House

Sarah, Jamie and Lisa from Rigby House“When my second child was just 6 months old, we discovered that he had been born with a very rare genetic condition causing overgrowth on one side of the body. The rollercoaster of specialist appointments, scans and blood tests that followed caused a lot of anxiety. Luckily, he was already enrolled at The Infants’ Home, where he could receive the best quality of early childhood education and care. He also had access to occupational therapists, speech therapists and an early childhood health nurse, all onsite.

Knowing that he had all of the support he needed while he was in day care was a great weight off my shoulders. When a position became available to work in the fundraising department of The Infants’ Home, I just knew I had to apply. It is highly satisfying to work in a team that raises funds for such a unique and inclusive organisation, knowing that every day you are helping struggling families find a safe place to receive the support that they need to live their best life.

After attending a Chuffed workshop earlier this year, we decided to run a campaign to raise funds to renovate one of the childcare centres at The Infant’s Home, which was built in 1959. This was our first crowdfunding campaign and, thanks to mentoring from Chuffed and a generous donor who is matching funds raised, our first crowdfunding campaign has been a big success- and it’s been fun!

We met our target of $10,000 with 5 days to go, so we decided on a stretch target of $12,500 and look forward to hitting that one as the campaign concludes. We’ll definitely be add crowdfunding to our fundraising toolbox into the future.”

You can read more about the Infant’s Home and their Crowdfunding Campaign, here:

Followings for Busubi Empowered Communities: “Anyone can make a massive impact in a short amount of time”

Lauren Exton
“I’m Lauren Exton, former television & radio producer in Australia, current PR manager for an entertainment company in the USA – and Followings is technically my side project, but absolutely dominates my thoughts and schedule!

A series of life-altering service trips to Uganda showed me just how great the need for community engagement is in the rural villages. I also witnessed enormous growth in myself and others on the trip and I was drawn to offer an opportunity for people around the world who might not realise they have everything it takes to be a change-agent. When all you have to do is take 10 days off work, and fundraise $6000 – anyone can make a massive impact in a short amount of time.

Most people don’t know just how much they are capable of, so if I can help them see just how amazing they are – for me that is the greatest gift of all.

With 50% of Uganda’s population under the age of 15, and only 8% of girls currently completing high school – it’s obvious to me that we need all hands on deck, and that’s part what I’m trying to do with Followings. Whether people come on the trip, or donate to someone who is – they’re making change.

I opened up world-wide applications for the first 10 day trip in August 2017 and we had a full team of 10 (Australians & Americans) in just a few short weeks! We have weekly conference calls for the 12 weeks leading up to our November trip, and by the first week of September the team had already raised 10% of the $63,000 goal! (I’m still pinching myself!)

The money raised will build a Learning & Community Centre in the rural Ugandan village of Busubi, and also covers the trip costs for the 10 hardworking fundraisers/volunteers who will tirelessly co-create & facilitate 6 intense days of community engagement with local villagers while on the ground.

We’ll return again in April 2018, and again in October 2018, with 2 more trips in 2019, and a goal for the centre to be accredited to facilitate university courses and become fully self-sustaining by 2020.

Thank you Chuffed for this amazing opportunity – and for all your support along the way – you have been UNBELIEVABLE in every way!”

For more on this awesome cause and to support their crowdfunding, check out the Followings campaign page:

Reg and the Watarrka Foundation, bringing education Right 2 the HEART of those who need it in Australia

“After working as a tour guide for 15 years in Central Australia, Richard Ramsden, or Reg as he prefers, dreamt of being able to use tourism to do more to support remote Indigenous communities.

Reg established Remote Tours to give people around the world the chance to visit the Red Centre and learn directly from Indigenous elders about traditional Aboriginal culture, and to support communities to build an independent future.

Reg has established respectful and collaborative relationships with Indigenous people, and his tours contain a community service component which is making a real difference to the local communities. A school for 19 students has recently been rebuilt and reopened, and a food van provides the school with fresh food.

Reg has also established the Lilla Foundation to improve health outcomes, fund basic necessities and provide education scholarships.

Reg’s work is supporting and empowering remote Indigenous communities, and his actions are a true demonstration of practical and genuine reconciliation.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”– Nelson Mandella

Making a real difference in the lives of young Indigenous Australians means a great deal to many people who live in this country.”

 For more on Reg and this awesome project that aims to give every Indigenous child a high school education by providing secondary education options in remote communities in Australia, check out their crowdfunding campaign below: