Educating to learn

Acorns learning at Oakwood Denbury is an outdoor leaning center run by a family. Steph and I arrived to find an outdoor fire, a long table with food and friends celebrating with their children. I won’t tell you too much about the center but rather invite you to go and experience it. With food growing and an equal weight on emotional literacy as well as numeracy. Sharona one of the founders shared this with us:

We’re all on a journey as humans. I really felt alone but now there’s a feeling that we’re in this mass community.

The site certainly had a rocky journey getting going because of difficulties getting planning permission, despite the fantastic work they do. But they recieved nearly a hundred letters of support including from Satish Kumar and Schumacher College. Steve tells me:

We’re still putting our head above the parapet just by being here. People have been frightened by it.

Looking at the beautiful wooden teaching huts, the growing plants and the circle of wooden stools the madness of such fear is apparent.

Embercombe is located near High Ashton and is more about your inner transformation than the practical skills you will learn, although there are sustainable skills to explore. The large site runs a wide range of programs for different groups and ages and through their volunteer program people come to live on the site for several months and change their lives. I spoke with the founder Mac about those who come to Embercombe. More information will be in the final documentary after the tour. The key emphasis has been on the inner changes to enable people to act, which in these times has now become so important.

Speaking with some of the volunteers it’s clear that their time here has been amazing ,challenging and life changing.

It’s really good at opening your eyes to what you do and who you are.

A place where you can really BE, with genuine people who reflect you back.

 

Surprises in our hedgerows

Since arriving in Devon I’ve been delighted by the variety of species. Because England has lost 97% of it’s wildflower habitat since 1940 in many places verges and hedgerows are often the last refuge for plants and the species that feed on them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcbxPlFtuaw

During the walk from Totnes to Denbury we looked at how the hedgerows have changed. Laying a hedge (cutting the side and bending it down) is now a rare event, with most hedges maintained by cutting the sides and tops. In this short video, Matthew explains the curious sight of bent hedges.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm9ONN_t1tI

If you are looking for a snack, you may find primrose flowers which I was surprised to learn taste rather like rose turkish delight. Moreish. Or if you are looking for something to boost the flavour in your cooking, try wild garlic which is out in force at the moment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOZOlaJtQ34

 

 

Natural beekeeping

Phil Chandler AKA The Barefoot Beekeeper, is obsessed with bees. And with good reason, these amazing ceatures are the foundation of our foodchain, with our foods having been selected over millenia by the actions of bees.  What is Natural Beekeeping I asked him and why is it different from the more commercialised style?

In Natural Beekeeping the emphasis is on a respect for the bees and not interferring anymore than is necessary. Rather than taking all the honey and replacing it with a sugar solution, the beekeeper takes only the excess honey that is available and avoids disturbing the hive. Because bees create honey as a food for their babies it contains all the things that they need, so they are stronger if they are able to eat it. The hives are carefully contructed by bees to minimise the risk of airborne diseases, so avoiding opening the hice helps to allow the bees to control the environment inside.  You can learn more about natural beekeeping and visit the discussion forum at www.biobee.com.

If you are also interested in supporting the protection of bees, Phil is a founder of Friends of the Bees.