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Here you'll find all the information about our on-site courses, which we're currently developing with a range of practitioners. More updates to follow in 2024...

Biodiversity in the Garden
Saturday 13th July, 10am - 4pm

Rockaway is excited to present the first in a suite of new courses which focus on gardening, led by the wonderful Penny Austin. 

Designed for adults of all ages and abilities, this course is a mix of practical activities and observation, based in the Rockaway classroom and Community Forest Garden.

Penny has over 25 years of varied and extensive experience in gardening organically and sustainably, with good environmental practice at the forefront of everything she does. She's a qualified and experienced RHS lecturer, and teaches RHS professional horticulture qualifications.

Her first session is an introduction to biodiversity, which can be undertaken as a stand-alone course. If you'd like to delve deeper, Sessions 2 and 3 will be available on future dates.

Course Structure
Session 1, Saturday 13th July

This introduction looks at what is meant by biodiversity, as well as how it’s relevant in the garden and wider environment, by exploring the following:

  • Biodiversity from the perspective of plants and planting. 

  • How climate change will affect caring for our gardens and the populations within them.

  • The wider food web and how encouraging biodiversity is multi-layered - there’s so much more than just planting some wild flowers, although that in itself plays an important role. We will look at why!

  • Caring for our soil and water, and how that can impact on diversity. 

There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions and discuss the issues, as well as explore how you can develop your own garden.

Cost for this session is £40 for unwaged/benefits or £60 for employed, and includes a delicious home-made vegan lunch.

Places are limited, so if you'd like to join Penny for this first session, you can book a place by clicking on the image below. 

Session 2, Date TBC

This second session will look in more detail at the plants and planting styles that can support and encourage biodiversity by exploring the following: 

  • How we are entirely dependent on plants for our existence, as are most living organisms.

  • Basic botany to support understanding.

  • Plants provide food, shelter and breeding grounds for many forms of life, so we’ll examine how our choice of plants and the way we maintain them has an impact on the diversity we’ll attract.

  • How plants have adapted to attract specific pollinators.

  • Why some flowers cannot produce pollen and why.

  • How different shaped flowers suit different insects. For example, butterflies like wide flowers they can land on and walk across.

  • How insects and other pollinators work with plants, as well as how they help each other.

Specific plant choices and planting design will also be studied within a historical context. Plus, there will be opportunities for advice and guidance about plant choices for your own garden by using photographs for reference.

Session 3, Date TBC

This session will build on the previous two by focusing more on the environment, while exploring the following:

  • Basic soil science, different soil types and what lives in it.

  • Cultural practices, such as digging/not digging, mulching, and how they affect soil health and soil biodiversity, which in turn affects plant health.

  • The role of different organisms in the soil and how they fit into the food web.

  • The role of water in plants and the soil, plus how water in the garden encourages biodiversity.

  • Creating water features that will encourage and support biodiversity.

  • Choosing plants that will thrive in these environments and the role they play in pond health.

  • Creating habitats and adapting gardening practice to support biodiversity.

  • Utilising what has been learned about food webs and the complex relationships between organisms to create a balanced environment that can support the optimum populations that can live and support each other.

There will also be practical opportunities to build features like bug hotels, while considering how well they work and why.

(NB: Remember that you can also become a Rockaway Community Forest Garden volunteer. To get in touch with us and sign up, just click below!)

Festival Set Design & Construction

This exciting course, based at Rockaway Park, comprises three weekends of theory, practical knowledge and hands-on experience, where you will design, create and then build part of a set. You will also learn about ethical practice to help us in our mission to manifest positive change and create a better world. Featuring specialist tutors in festival, TV and film design & construction, as well as providing opportunities to make connections and network with key industry professionals, this course aims to train and support a new generation of ecologically-focused festival designers and builders.

Take a look at our taster video below featuring Course Leader and lovely chap,

Neil Dezell.

Course Structure

Held over three weekends, the course structure is as follows:

DAY 1: Introduction to Set Building & Construction
  • Brief history of festivals

  • Ecological approaches

  • Basic Health & Safety

  • Theory of Set Piece Construction

  • Practical workshop introduction, including tips on tool use and cutting list

  • Practical set construction session

DAY 2: Set Painting Techniques
  • Brief history of set painting & carving

  • Ecological approaches

  • Health & Safety with products

  • Theory on paint mixing

  • Practical workshop introduction, including tips on brushes & techniques

  • Test painting

  • Practical painting session

DAY 3: Set Construction, Stack Building & Lifting
  • Brief history of construction

  • Ecological approaches

  • Health & Safety

  • Theory of lifting techniques

  • Harness shackles & other kit

  • Practical introduction to outdoor space

  • Prepping, layout & tie-off

  • Practical set construction session

All materials, kit, tools and PPE (personal protective equipment) are provided. Each day provides plenty of time to put theory and new knowledge into practice, as well as learn and develop new skills. For those well-earned breaks, Rockaway's Community Forest Garden and the Vegan Café are open for relaxation and scrumptious meals or snacks.

Course Dates

This course is currently on hold due to professional commitments...

Course Fees

For the full 3-day course, the total cost is £480

If you wish to only take part in 1 or 2 days, the cost is £180 per day

Booking the full course means there’s a saving of £60

Booking a Place

A booking link will be available when we've confirmed dates.


Once you’ve secured a place, you'll be sent a questionnaire so we can get to know more about you and your interests, as well as any access needs or other requirements. Neil, our course leader is fully trained and experienced in working positively with any form of need or disability, so you will be fully supported during your time with us.


You will also receive a more detailed itinerary of each day so that you’re fully prepared for what will be covered for both the theory and practical sessions.


"Would those who say it can't be done, please stand clear of those doing it"

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