A cat called TC who has his own interesting 'tail to tell', his own Facebook page, and Buddhist tendencies, led me to meet new friends recently. That in itself is a whole new story for another time. However, it was my new friends who alerted me to an interesting project, in turn created by friends of theirs, a mere 5 miles from where we live.
Paul and Laura Salmon from Newlina Eco-Gardens have quietly been providing sustainable local food to the community and restaurant business in Cornwall from their base at St Newlyn East for over 11 years now. More recently however they have decided to open their 'green out-doors' and offer community education with their new Wild Garden Project. It was at a recent open day and event that we went to see what was planned for this project.
Paul and Laura have a quiet and determined energy about them. There is nothing outspoken or showy about them. Instead their hard work and passion is reflected in the flourishing land, rows of tasty produce and natural habitat that make up Newlina. Their skills are also perfectly balanced for the new project. Paul has years of horticultural experience, including permaculture, and his obvious natural skills and abilities make you want to follow him around for hours firing questions at him in an effort to understand fully why all the things he grows seem so perfect. His delight at showing us the footprints of the resident pest controller (a hedgehog) was infectious too. Meanwhile Laura's skills as a playworker and story teller mean that she could be explaining the merest blade of grass and you would be transfixed by the interwoven details and creative energy that surround it. Indeed Laura has her own 'Wild Stories' Project that seeks to explore the human relationship with nature through storytelling.
Although some areas of the Community Wild Garden Project have been started, such as a free monthly Wild Garden Group, some of the planting, and the set up of communal areas, there is still a little way to go. To help with this they have launched a Crowdfunder appeal. The momentum is definitely building though, with interest and support from the local community and schools.
It is a sad fact that much of modern living has led to a disconnect and lack of understanding of the importance of where and how our food is delivered to our plates, let alone the ecological implications of getting this wrong. Paul and Laura have been producing food ecologically for years from their poly tunnels and outdoor areas, but to help the wider community reconnect and re-understand, the new Wild Garden Project has become their next mission. After all, the ability to grow and produce your own food might have been lost to individuals in more recent generations, but is really one of the most important and empowering skills to have. It really sits alongside, if not above reading and writing in some ways.
Thankfully some parts of the community are recognising this, including schools, and as such local schools are therefore embracing such projects like the one at Newlina. Children can learn how to grow and forage for food, outdoor cooking skills, how to work with and around nature, and how to be creative in the natural environment, among other things; all this in a fun and engaging environment. It is a simple but effective concept that quite frankly all kids should have the opportunity to learn and experience. If we had kids I would more actively encourage and support them to attend the 'School of Laura and Paul' (along with a spot of good old fashioned travel experience) over sending them packing off to study some over-charging/overrated university degree (and that's coming from someone who works in higher education!). But that's just my simple opinion; supported by an ever growing number of environmentalists who foresee the way 'modern society' is 'progressing'.
With my slight rant over and an ever growing garden of our own homegrown produce to attend to (and a mountain of unwritten blog posts to catch up on), I'd best stop there. You get the idea though I hope; projects such as the one at Newlina are increasingly important in the wider scale. If you feel the same and live locally, or are even just visiting Cornwall, pop over, take a look at their website and Facebook pages and, if you can afford it, they'd be delighted if you supported their Crowdfunder appeal (details below) or volunteered your time to help progress the project.