The Watercress Queen

Waterside Clothes Swaps - Next Steps

How can we create a more regenerative culture around clothes in the New Forest?

Now we have 5 clothes swaps under our 2nd hand belt it is time to look at the next steps to help the Waterside and wider New Forest area reduce its impact on the worlds resources with clothing.

Back in 2018 I wrote the working ethos for New Forest Aquaponics CIC, a blueprint for all the work we wish to include, to help people live with our planet and to do less harm while living a modern life.

This is from the life skills page.

Give a human a coat and they are warm for a while

Teach a human to make the coat and they can make a living whilst keeping themselves and others warm

As society moves towards a more regenerative way of living in harmony with our biosphere, we need to learn the skills that will allow us to do that. 

Sewing - working with reclaimed unwanted textiles, teaching how to upcycle, repair, and refashion the clothes we have gives freedom from High Street shops and gets us out of the corporate consumer cycle. Being able to make and repair our clothes and the things we need can lead to self-sufficiency, or employment, or even better self-employment.

Our clothes swaps are first and foremost about reducing textile waste  - which is a huge environmental and social issue everywhere in the world. But although that's where I started with this there is so many more ways the swaps help. Our swaps are always free for everyone to attend, making sure the swaps are as accessible as possible, which then helps with clothing poverty, which of course goes hand in hand with food poverty.  Helping someone with clothing can really help stop the slippery slope towards real poverty.
We also try to make the swaps as fun as possible, and love to see when people try on clothes before taking them home.

But now it is time for the next part of this journey, and its very exciting too!

We have been given a space to house a shipping container to turn into a clothing / textile store.

 Having a clothing store will allow us to do the following

  • Collect clothes and sort before the swaps
  • Store clothes left to enable us to help smaller clothes swaps to have a wider range of clothes easily, especially if they have no storage.
  • Provide a clothing bank for use by the foodbank and other referral agencies in the area to help clients with clothing.
  • Do simple fixes and repairs to still good clothing.
  • Reclaim material for teaching basic sewing skills.
  • Provide inspiration and material for upcycling clothing and art in the local area.
  • Reduce the amount of textiles that end up in landfill though community projects

And that's just the start!

Of course all of this has to start somewhere and that is with the shipping container. And for that we need to raise some funds. We have already put funding bids in to get help, but these all take time with no guarantee of success.

And that's where you can help us. At each swap we collect donations at the end, and these normally go to a local charity, community supporting community. But this time the donations are going towards the cost of purchasing a container, and fitting it out to be a nice place to come.

This is a link to our online donations platform, using this link the money will be ring fenced for the container, and fitting it out. If we do get awarded a grant for the container, any donations will go towards future clothes swaps and projects lead by the clothes swap volunteer team.

Our next clothes swap event  5th November


Washkers - why and how to use

The most green way you can wash your clothes

I am  known as The Watercress Queen online, has been teaching people for the last four years how to wash their clothes using conkers. 

Although everyone loved the idea, many people found it too difficult to be able to prepare the conkers themselves, and if they did many did not prepare enough to last the whole year till the next conker season. 

Many , many people asked if they could buy some ready to use, it seemed sensible to see if it could be turned in to a saleable product, without moving away from our core principles. 

Working out how to chop and dry conkers in bulk, took a few experiments to get right. Now with my son Robbie we have perfected our methods, and love working together intensively during 6 weeks of autumn to ‘gather the harvest’ and prepare them for sale. 

New Forest Aquaponics cic has now launched Washkers - conkers for washing your clothes. 

How do you use them? 

It takes just 40 grams of the chopped and dried conkers soaked in 500 ml of hot water for 30 minutes to provide two washes worth of liquid to go directly in the drum of your washing machine. That same 40 grams can be soaked  a further 2 times - the 2nd soaking using all the water, the 3rd for a lightly soiled wash. 

What amazing value is that - 40 grams providing 4 washes! A kilo bag lasts a very long time, and is good for the planet. 

The packaging of course is upcycled cotton bags, giving abandoned textiles a 2nd use, and when you have finished using the bag for as many things as you can think of it can be composted at home. 

Available direct from the New Forest Aquaponics website, not only do you get detailed instructions but the product assessment report which shows the positive and negative CO2 and plastic impacts from the manufacture of the washers. 

Every year Lucie personally grows 30  new  horse chestnut trees , to make sure future generations can use them and will care for them in the long term., eventually growing a forest of horse chestnut trees.  


we would love everyone to be making their own, but if you cant please think about supporting our community and the work we are doing in the waterside and wider New Forest
Find them on!/Washkers-conkers-for-washing-your-clothes/p/421141597/category=154863771

Last autumn saw a little flurry of media interest in Washkers and how we make them.

We had media exposure on radio, newspapers and the TV.

Everything went onto my Youtube channel 

This is the video from BBC South Today

If you have a look at the channel you will find the radio interviews as well.


And don't forget if you cant make your own for any reason you can support our work through buying washkers from us.!/Washkers-conkers-for-washing-your-clothes/p/421141597/category=154863771