The last months I have been watching the land with new eyes, having landed last March in a regenerating meadow, next to an abandoned (now wooded) quarry near the river Severn.
I have experienced Winter in a way that I am beginning to see as natural, necessary and mysterious; a time of caring for the soul, of wholeness, of darkness and reflection, of death. Having delved into study, solitude and silence (haven’t we all this past year…?), I have begun to feel the budding of something exciting rise in me and in the world. Perhaps it is Spring. It certainly feels like transformation. Here we enter the time of birth, of the rising sun, of the blossoming of fresh insights, ideas and possibilities. For me, this looks like a garden and a path.
Having moved onto this land, we have built some simple buildings (a compost loo and a shed-kitchen), fenced an area and established 1/4 acre of permanent beds, built a poly-tunnel, started the first seeds, planted around fifty trees and tens of berry bushes. This is a new challenge to me and has been filled with lessons already, even before the literal first fruits of labour are gifted.
There are sixty beds, each one around 12.5m long. We plan to establish a perennial bed in every six, giving year-around cover, diversity and slowly expanding a permanent state to allow for a decrease of composts, digging, seeding and planning. One aim, of course, is to produce food, but the reasons go beyond this. Our focus on guilds and complexities makes for more ‘messy’ gardening and a decrease in efficiency (if measured in work hours), but it mimics natures and builds resilience, will provide habitat and food for beings great and small, and nourish the souls of those who walk its vague pathways. We hope to put a small hut for people to stay in, a means to be in nature and attune to its rhythms. We may hold workshops and gatherings on-site. Who knows…this is a path of unknown possibility and nature’s lesson here is to embrace this mystery, to escape planning, theorising and mapping and physically embody presence and being. This is hard, but a journey I have impatiently awaited.
The challenges so far have, at times, left me in tears. To begin such a project involves many areas of research and new tools and needs. I have made a lot of mistakes already and these have been hard. The quantities of plastic being created have astounded and outraged me. Often my own choices face the brunt of this outrage. Everything from fencing to a shed to a tool to compost seems to arrive deeply cloaked in plastic. Not to mention the poly-tunnel (a long-pondered purchase that I remain unsure of, but the call of tomatoes and cucumbers and the need for a space for seeds persuaded me). Having tried so hard to diminish my plastic use in the last years, this has been incredibly painful. Could I have avoided it? I believe some, yes. As with so many lessons, the key appears to be slowing down, practising patience and a willingness to limit one’s desires. Of course, creating a project such as this puts me in direct contact with the creation of plastic waste so ubiquitous within the food industry. I imagine these mountains of plastic around me as less than the hidden litter of an average shopping trip. But still, to be faced with it hurts, and there is little consolation in the ‘hope’ that the other way is worse…
Spring is here and the main inputs are now done. It is time to tend this land, and as I delve my hands into its soil, I feel I am rooting myself in this beautiful place. I hope I can grow well.
I would like to express immense gratitude to the guardians of this land I am currently honoured to be on. They have had the inspiration and foresight to permit its natural rewilding over the last 13 years and the outcome is the metropolis of biodiversity, which now includes a visiting human.
If you choose to explore my updated Conscious Roots website, you will find my garden’s co-adventure has also begun. I am excited to have launched a 6-week programme in The Development of the Ecological-Self.
Thank you for reading this article.
May you all be blessed with peace, joy and happiness!