Applying the ideas in Jamie Young’s “How to be Ingenious” is bearing fruit.
When unexpected events occur, the shock and disturbance can cause many reactions, from paralysis to raging anger, confusion and denial. Mine tends to be to ‘take charge’ and run round like a headless chicken attempting to ‘do’ things to alleviate the distress. But sometimes, in the most complex of situations, knowing just what to ‘do’ for the best can feel an almost impossible task.
So for the last few months, I’ve been practising an approach which is a bit unusual for me; pausing, drawing breath and allowing myself to be alive to possibilities I may not otherwise have considered.
At the same time as coming to terms with separation and divorce, I have been thinking about how we can stay here on Llananant Farm. It’s a lovely 52 acre holding in the beautiful Monmouthshire countryside, home to me, my parents and my children. But with a day job that takes me away a lot, and offspring needing support with their with busy lives, paying attention to this place and all its possibilities has somewhat taken a backseat of late.
But out of crisis comes opportunity – storm clouds can have a silver lining. Friends rally round and come up with options and proposals; ideas appear from the most unexpected places.
And I think I have a plan.
Thinking about all the resources I have available to me and putting them together in new ways, I am setting up Llananant Farm (llananant.co.uk) as a Permaculture Project and a local hub for learning and networking.
I’ve been aware of the Permaculture movement for many years (www.permaculture.org.uk). It has its roots in the same ‘whole systems’ traditions as the theories and methods which guide my consulting practice. We apply permaculture principles to the way we manage the farm (www.permacultureprinciples.com). For example, we work in harmony with the conditions we find here, only intervening when we need to improve yields. We’ve restored habitat to create a diverse and self supporting eco-system – planting hedges and corridors, woodland and orchards. We apply old techniques – making hay later so that the different plant varieties self-seed; using foggage farming through the winter; growing lamb slowly on to hoggets before selling the tastier, leaner, bigger joints to friends and family. We have plans to make more use of what we produce here – largely lamb, beef, apples, eggs.
Alongside developing the farm itself, we’ll start converting some of our buildings as informal teaching and learning spaces. Working with the principles and practices of ‘systems thinking’ and ‘systems working’ – including Permaculture Principles – we can explore and experiment with how we can apply these methods for positive effects for our organisations, communities and our planet. Visitors will be able to experience, in a very practical way, the interconnections and relationships in the real, living environment of a working permaculture holding. And with my wonderful and varied crowd of friends and colleagues, we can offer all sorts of teaching, learning and networking possibilties – as well as simple spaces for connection and plain old fun!
We hope that Llananant will become a hub for all sorts of activities, helping to grow our vibrant, inter-connected, sustainable local communities. Importantly, for me, it will allow me to connect and integrate my professional life and my home life in much more reciprocal and mutually supportive ways.
And that’s good…