Even though the three of us had to isolate for a week due to Covid secure measures we found ourselves active and time passed quickly. We were warmly welcomed on arrival and taken care of with the provision of some delicious food kindly prepared by Ella and Phil who are both long term volunteers here at Lower Sharpham Farm. Rather unusually but to maintain social distance we sat and ate dinner in our room doorways getting to know each other chatting across the hallway. We were able to leave the bunkhouse for walks to explore the area, during which we met others working on the farm. William inspired by the lovely winter colours was drawn to paint the breath-taking landscape and spent much of his time doing this and playing the guitar. Whilst William was immersed in his creative talents Lisa and Nora spent most days exploring the surrounding area and on the final day the three of us took a long walk around the Sharpham estate, finding out more about each other’s lives. As the week progressed, we readily felt at home and were inspired both by the people and the landscape that we would be spending the next two months with.
The first morning we met as a group outside for a team sharing circle where very quickly it became clear that the ethos is one of openness, honesty, authenticity and of support. This was reassuring given that we would all be working and living together as a small community. All of us expressed gratitude that the course was continuing despite the recent lockdown measures and that we had such a great opportunity to spend our time in a meaningful and purposeful way.
The self-isolation week therefore passed relatively quickly and with a certain degree of ease and enjoyment. The pace soon picked up and we found ourselves in the first three days of the course immersed in a wide variety of activities that took us both outside (even on a wild and wet winters day!) and inside the training yurt made cosy with a lovely log fire and sheepskins to help keep us warm.
The focus on these first few days was to become familiar with the layout of the farm and its workings, the ethos and vision of Ambios, the approach to learning and potential future opportunities together with plenty of information on plants, trees, birds, insects, conservation techniques, practices and tools. We have also learned a lot about each other and our stories that brought each of us together on this course. We feel we have learned so much in just a short space of time facilitated by Jack and the team in a fun, light-hearted and experiential way. Their passion for their work and its potential is infectious and inspiring.
The course began with a discussion on rewilding, its definition and what it might mean for Ambios as an organisation and for the farmland that is in its care. It feels exciting for us to be part of the team at the start of a new adventure and a change in direction that will ultimately lead to a liberation of the land and its inhabitants.
“None of nature’s landscapes are ugly so long as they are wild” John Muir
Written by Lisa, Eleanor and William, Spend Winter Rewilding trainees