Cider-man (returns?)

Our second year of cider making took on a more professional micro-brewery feel with the purchase of a Scratter (or fruit crusher). This helps to break the apples up so that they are easier to press! And it certainly worked.

We also learned that using wind fall apples is fine, but that you get a lot more juice from apples that are freshly picked. We used a combination of cooking and eating apples, along with the first crop of ‘all doers’. The only problem was that someone also liked the apple trug.

The press went ahead, with lots of cutting, turning, crushing and grating.

Two batches of apples yielded around 20 litres of juice. The fermentation process takes about a week, and then it is time for bottling. Alex had already put in two great shifts with the apple processing and he continued with naming the brew, and creating a set of individually hand drawn labels. He was particularly pleased with his Avengers-inspired Cider-man name and logo (a super hero with bottles for arms and legs).

So, Cider-man cider was born! Let’s hope its got the power of Spider-man rather than the Hulk!

P.S. – Early sampling suggests that this could be a vintage batch!

Open House Winery: Is the juice worth the squeeze?

Following our successful inaugural foray into cider brewing last year, we thought that it was time to broaden our repertoire. With two young grape vines starting to bear fruit in the polytunnel, it was time to try our hand at making some wine!

After some initial research we realised that wine making is a lot more of a protracted and nuanced process than cider. However, unperturbed, we bought the relevant bits and bobs and got cracking! Our expectations were pretty low and therefore more than 1 bottle of drinkable end product would be a definite success!

Picking the grapes was pretty simple, and we had around 8kgs to work with.

Pressing the grapes has to be done by hand (or foot if you prefer), rather than using a fruit press. We learnt that this is because crushing the pips brings a bitter taste to the wine. Despite being a bit messy it was quite a pleasant job. The resultant Must was then left for a couple of days.

We used a Campden tablet to remove any wild yeast, and left the Must with the skin in as we wanted to make red wine. I think the Campden tablet contains sulphites, which some people believe gives you the headache after drinking!?

After a few days, we then strained the juice, which again was quite satisfying, although it took a bit of effort to squeeze it all out.

Miraculously we had over 3.5 litres of juice, which may even make 7 bottles of wine, if all goes to plan. Unexpectedly, the main aroma of the grape juice was something like pink bubble gum! I am pretty sure that this is not what a Somelier would want the bouquet to be, so perhaps we will end up with a few bottles of something undrinkable! But it is worth a go. We added the yeast and nutrient, and then found a warm place for it to ferment for 8 weeks.

We are nearly at the point of being able to bottle the wine (if we can call it that) and then in 6 months time we will see whether we have something that is vaguely quaffable! So it will be sometime yet before we will know for sure whether the juice is really worth the squeeze!

Renewable Heat Incentive Accreditation

After a complicated and long-running application process we have now officially registered for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This is a government subsidy to support the use of renewable forms of energy in heating buildings and homes. The RHI scheme is now closed to new applicants, but we were able to enter the scheme as we have 4 buildings (3 homes and 1 communal space) making use of our open loop ground source heating system.

The RHI will pay back a fixed tariff for each unit of heat energy that is produced and used by our system for the next 20 years! This helps to off-set the costs of setting-up and running our heating system.

Soleco heat pumps in the OHP plantroom

As electricity and gas prices are increasing and the winter weather is arriving, it is reassuring to know that our sustainable heating system is reducing our communal carbon footprint.

The UK government has recently set out plans to support the installation of heat pumps in new build housing schemes as well as retrofitting to existing homes. We are proud of what we have achieved in being one of the early adopters of this technology for a housing project.

As the UK’s electricity supply decarbonises further in the future, the system will have an even smaller environmental impact.

5 Rivers and Live Project Visit

Guest post from Bryn Davies:

Tuesday 22nd October – Five Rivers Co-housing and SSOA Live Projects

Five Rivers co-housing, a Sheffield based group who are currently looking to build their own co-housing scheme together, came to visit the Open House Project last week.  For the past month Five Rivers have been taking part in a Live Project in collaboration with students from Sheffield School of Architecture (SSOA).  Last week members of Five Rivers and several students from SSOA were given a guided tour of Open House Project by resident and architect Leo Care.

Visiting the project provided the group with a fascinating insight into the workings and logistics involved in delivering a successful scheme, a great example of how co-housing can be delivered here in Sheffield.  Particular highlights of the scheme included the innovative ground-source heat pump system that services the scheme, and the wonderful growing spaces that have been cultivated by the group.  The Open House Project truly showcases how anybody, even without any prior experience in the field or in project management, can play a pivotal role in delivering progressive and exciting housing.

You can find more information about Five Rivers here:

For more information about live projects you can visit the website here:

Humanitarian Architecture Society Visit

Guest Post from Tom Matthews

On the 16th of October 11 students from the University of Sheffield group, Humanitarian Architecture Society, came to visit the Open House project. Our society aims to educate its members and the wider community about issues in architecture of social consciousness and sustainability. We were therefore very excited when Leo agreed to give us a tour of this project and to find out more about what goes on at Barnes Hall farm!

HAS visit 2019 1

Despite the best efforts of the Sheffield bus system to stop us, we greeted Leo on a glorious Wednesday afternoon to look around the site.

It was fascinating to see the builds in their various states of completion, from Leo’s finished and inhabited house, to the co-house and west barn which are still a work in progress. Seeing the agricultural heritage of the latter in the form of concrete cattle pens, and huge timber columns was a particular highlight.

HAS visit 2019 2

Sketches by Nina Vacic

Leo gave us a great description of the systems at work in the plant room, and how the project is reducing its environmental impact with equipment such as the ground source heat pumps.

HAS visit 2019 4

We finished the tour with a cuppa in Leo’s kitchen and a fascinating discussion about the experience of living and working as the lead architect on a co-housing project.

We are all very grateful to the Open House project for welcoming us, and to Leo for the tour and inviting us into his home, and we look forward to seeing how to project progresses!

A budding Community

The Open House Project was featured in the Ecology Building Society Autumn Newsletter. You can see the whole article here: Open House Project Case Study


It’s great to be associated with an organisation that has such strong environment principles and we hope that we can play our part in addressing the Climate Emergency too through the Open House Project.







Raising the roof!

After much planning and preparation, we have been able to get cracking on the works to the roof of the West Barn and Granary!

When the scaffolding was erected, the views from the top were stunning! We hope to frame the vista of the Wentworth Estate through the new rooflights.


The first task was to remove the existing asbestos sheeting from the roof. Having been tested, we knew that it posed a fairly low risk, but all the same we had specialist contractors to remove  the asbestos.


After removing the roof covering the skeleton of the roof was revealed.


We were then able to see what repair was required to the existing stone walls as well.


The wildlife survey called for bat boxes to be installed into the existing walls, in order to try and maintain the habitat for the bats. the boxes were carefully built into the walls, and are barely visible from the ground. But they are definitely there!


The light coming through the naked roof structure gave a unique view, which would soon be covered again.


In order to make the roof structurally sound we had to replace the existing ridge beam with a new steel. Removing the original timber ridge required a crane, due to the height and weight of the pieces.


The 1980’s structure to support the asbestos roof was removed, along with the old warped and rotten timber rafters.

The roof was then nearly ready to start rebuilding!

New Social Media Links

We now have feeds from this website to our Instagram and Facebook accounts!

This means you can view some of our social media posts without having to use separate apps.

The feeds should be accessible on the right hand side of the screen if viewing on a computer, or scroll down on your mobile phone!

We have also done away with any adverts on the website, which we hope will make for a more pleasant reading experience!!


Sheffield Society of Architects Visit

In June, we hosted a visit to the Long Barn by the Sheffield Society of Architects (SSA) in collaboration with the Sheffield Design Award (SDA) organisers. The feedback has been fantastic, including some very kind words received in the last SDA newsletter:

SDA Building Visit – The Long Barn!

“SDA have collaborated with the Sheffield Society of Architects to bring you visits to SDA winning and nominated buildings. The first of these took place in June at the Long Barn. 2018 winner of the Conservation Award, The Long Barn by Chiles, Evans and Care is far from your average barn conversion. The project forms part of a wider cohousing vision committed to the restoration and reuse of a model estate farm from the early nineteenth century.

The architect, in designing a home for his own family, has created a sensitive, yet self-assured, intervention into an existing listed structure, and in doing so forges opportunities for family life that can be both inclusive and private through the playful use of different volumes within the historic shell. The attention given to division and connection of space, clever detailing and imaginative materials makes for an altogether masterful composition. The attendees particularly enjoyed hearing first hand how the project came to life.”

The long Barn 6 - kitchen dining
Photo: Matthew Bradshaw

The Long Barn 10 - an ongoing project
Photo: Matthew Bradshaw




Our ground source district heating/water system explained!

From the first time that we discussed our proposed ground source district heating and water system, we have all struggled to understand how it really works! Now that we have installed it, we can feel how it works from being in the first house to make use of it. However, it still seems fairly miraculous, complicated and intangible. There are so many operations and actions that occur in the system that you simply can’t see. Having tried to explain the system to a range of people, including friends, colleagues, students and residents, I thought the best way was to draw it! I am still not sure that it is 100% accurate, but it gives a pretty good idea!

open house project heating energy water diagram 2