Windy Ridge Boys' Farm

Sharing A Passion For Literacy For All


The basic philosophy of Windy Ridge appears simple – teach phonics and have fun with it, plus plenty of outdoor freedom.

The underlying value appears to be fairness. It's not fair if some people don't learn how to read.

I met Graham only a few times but I did have a good discussion with him over the phone on the morning of the day he died. I don't think I upset him, in fact I found an awful lot in common. But I have not seen the way he operates and I am very keen to learn about that. After 60 years I think he must have very valuable experience and much of this knowledge is now in the minds of those who worked in the camps and classes.

For this reason I support continuing with Windy Ridge, to build upon this knowledge and perhaps the place can become also a place where people learn the ideas and methods, so a school for the teachers as well as the students.

Graham mentioned the value of conversation, between people of different ages. He derided those who use humiliation and I think he said something about not treating children much differently to adults, or agreed with me about that, but perhaps not.

Where did he stand on day to day chores, responsibilities, cooking, washing, etc?

I have been reading some John Gatto. What other sources, programs, ideas did he use?

It is for other people now to carry this on so some things may change, though perhaps more in style than philosophy. I understand that people are writing down ideas and methods and hopefully there will be ongoing discussion and debate about philosophies and values.


I think we are lucky to have Jeff on board. The building codes are really a valuable source for design information, so they should be an aid rather than an obstacle.

There is a bit of a bureaucratic logjam, but I understand that Jeff is working towards a list of particular items that need to be dealt with, and hoping to avoid a rebuild. This would be more expensive, but not impossible, and I think the building expresses some really good things that should be kept.. Exposed structure helps you see how the building works, the flitches are groovy, it is like a big hut that boys could build, so it is engaging.

Graham's style predominates, but many things need to be sorted out, walls, bracing, gaps, etc. I like not having electricity. To stay off the grid would be excellent. Solar power is an option for lighting and a generator for occasional use, if needed. I have a small one that could be used by builders.

The small railway huts could be put on skids to avoid the need for permitting. In the longer run better accommodation may be needed for a live-in person or family.

If the decision were made to sell the farm it may still be worthwhile to bring the buildings up to standard, so this should proceed ASAP!


What roles are needed?

The work I do comes in lumps, with some less urgent stuff, and 2013 looks lump-free at present, though that could change. I want to spend 1-3 days a week on education, perhaps voluntary – eg Windy Ridge, and the rest making some income. I live an hour's drive away from the school, else I could consider a full time role.


I believe it is helpful if this information is accessible, so people can weigh the implications of policies and activities, etc, rather than one person trying to decide and prioritise and make ends meet. So I suggest a blog or page on the website at least to summarise income and expenses and perhaps list costings and estimates for proposals, etc.

It appears that income may be generated by the use of the farm by various groups and that this will be used to support the stated aims, which are to provide phonics teaching to children in a friendly and creative environment.

Ideally, the two streams match up so the phonics teaching generates the revenue to cover the costs. Then this can be the main activity. But unless or until this occurs the farm may depend on income from other groups and there may need to be discussion about who those groups might be – perhaps not anyone and perhaps some groups could be encouraged with lower rates, and so on.

Alternatively, the farm provides the people to run camps not just for teaching phonics, but for other related purposes. Or amalgamation with an existing group could occur, and so on. Many options, which may develop over time.

So, am I making any sense here? Let me know by email, look on the website too, and I'm hoping there will be a list of everyone with emails so we can follow up discussions with eachother person to person.

Maybe a Facebook page would be the best way to share ideas and plans, etc.

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