Chyan Community Field, an organic forest farm with community access, has been running since 2002. In that time, the group have transformed a disused, over-grown 2.2 acre Cornish field into a shining example of vegan organic growing, wildlife gardening, sustainable energy production and community involvement. Stephanie Jackson describes their approach and their achievements.
“We provide opportunities for children to access and play in the natural world through a nature playgroup, home school group and a small school project. The children are out in all weathers, enjoying our mud kitchen, willow zoo animals and wooden musical instruments. The garden has a wild feel and is very different to a park or children’s playground. There are lots of opportunities for them to get their wellies muddy!
“We also offer a wide variety of creative and lifestyle courses from charcoal making, apple pruning to natural dying, macrame and wet felting to mindfulness and vegan cooking and sharing evenings.
“We hold community events throughout the year including annual seasonal celebrations. We have a community orchard on site and Apple day is always a much anticipated event where we celebrate local Cornish apples. We’ve also held beekeeping displays, circus workshops, live music and tree dressing events. We host a family yoga camp each year.
“Local people work our allotments and in the past we have supported mum and toddler allotment groups to host Big Lunches from their produce. We believe that growing food collectively in this way is more productive and supportive. Recently, we’ve had a new wave of volunteers including students from Exeter University who are interested in growing food, young people not in education, unemployed people and older people. We also host the Duchy Blind Gardening Group and provide a day of activities for National Citizen’s Service. All types of people come together and work well together here. Everyone enjoys food around the fire.
“In our 16 years of existence we have only had funding for administration for about five of those years. We have relied on volunteer labour, local support and a sustainable approach to the resources to keep the organisation moving forwards. In the process, we’ve created a place full of biodiversity and nature where people can reconnect with the land and each other.”
Finally, what do you value about being a member of SF&G?
“We’ve had huge amounts of support from SF&G over the years. It’s inspirational to see what other people do around the UK and to have the support of the organisation. ”
TheHorseCourse is a busy Equine-Assisted Interventions Centre based on an ex-dairy farm in Weymouth. Harriet Laurie, founder, explains what TheHorseCourse offers people who are struggling and for whom other more mainstream therapeutic approaches may not be working.