Good for the Bee and the Beehive
Over ten years ago, shortly after leaving a fashion and textiles course, I took a weekend job in a holistic remedy shop to help support myself while studying at university. What started as an essentially superficial process of clearing my post-pubescent complexion soon transformed into a fascination for natural products and awakened a curiosity about my relationship to the natural world. I was motivated to understand how I could apply that ethos in other parts of my life and wanted to understand what living more ‘naturally’ meant.
Working regularly alongside a nutritional therapist, I began by simply eating more healthily and I started preparing meals with fresh foods. I soon became involved with local and national market gardens, farms and smallholdings where I planted, weeded, harvested… and learnt about the importance of caring the soil. I also learned that I still had energy to run around until dusk even after an early 5am trip to the market garden or after a hard day of digging.
My insight into working methods in the countryside was followed by chefing work in kitchens where local and organic food was prepared from scratch. I also signed up for cookery courses, learned about making bread using simply flour, salt and water; I worked alongside a beekeeper to collect and bottle honey; I scattered a horsetail preparation over biodynamic land as I sang; I learned how to use a waste product from the dairy industry to make ricotta cheese and recently I studied ecosystems and sustainability online while travelling. I return to the UK recently trained as a forest school leader after studying the value of the outdoors in children’s education.
My latest adventure is working as a Sustainable Living Co-ordinator for a permaculture project in a semi-desert area in the south of Spain. The area has little in common with the UK – it rarely sees rain and the threat of wild fire always looms so I will learn how an extreme environment shapes our interactions and how our needs come second when living in a low-impact style.
Amongst my responsibilities is the delivery of workshops on preserving, soap-making and researching how to keep things (and ourselves) cool in unforgiving heat. How, as a community, can we make intelligent choices and how do they look from the ground up? We live in yet another exciting age in which our perceptions of ourselves are being constantly re-invented, re-presented and re-informed by technological advance as well as engagement with the land through allotments, artisan processes and cooking or baking.
So join me, and the constant stream of interns and volunteers, over the next few months as we cook together, eat together, work together and define, and continue to re-define, our relationship to sustainability.