Week 1 at the farm

Winding down to the end of a long narrow road you arrive at the hidden Ambios site tucked away into the hillside. We were all greeted with warm hugs and smiles by Jack, Molly and the rest of the crew, before being introduced to the other trainees that we will be spending next 12 weeks with.

The first few days involved getting to know the site and each other. Jack walked us round to the garden, the viewpoint and explained how the next 12 weeks living communally will work. We settled into our rooms and opened all the cupboards to get familiar with our new home. We got involved with various team building exercises and each created a poster to present ‘our journey to Ambios’ to the rest of the team. This activity allowed us to immediately connect with each other, as many of us have shared similar life paths. While I’m sure many of us were nervous to arrive here and live with 7 strangers, even after 5 days we have become a little family that I’m sure will become more special as time goes on.

Our next few days involved several walks around this beautiful area and learning to recognise the features of the site. We enjoyed discovering and identifying various wildflowers, grasses and insects including the Great green bush-cricket! We also set off on a bird identification walk but didn’t spot anything other than a little Egret in the distance – a bit disappointing but a memorable afternoon spent sitting in the grass and rolling down the hill back home. Jack introduced us to the history of Ambios and Sharpham and how the dynamics of changing this land has come into fruition. From this, we started to get to grips with the concept of Rewilding and the various challenges it poses. We were fortunate to have a presentation from Becky about the Rewilding of the Dart in the vision of changing land use along the Dart River, from areas that have little agricultural production value, into a valuable rewilding areas that will increase biodiversity. We got to see a proposed management plan and a map of a possible rewilding site that was presented to the landowner in the hopes that they agree to go ahead with the idea.

Mike gave us an intriguing pop quiz full of conservation instruments used out in the field. Many items were new to us all and raised lots of discussions and questions as to what they were used for and why, the small plastic mammal trap stumped us all! We sat in the outdoor learning area in the woods to pick Mike’s brain about each item.

Overall, the first week has been full of activities, entertainment, and laughter. Many of us have taken a swim in the river and walked along the track into Totnes, really getting accustomed to our new home and all that it has to offer. Beautiful sunrise views from the garden and chatty group dinners have already made this experience feel so special.  We are all so excited to see where these next 3 months take us. Learning about conservation, making great friends, and eating fabulous food, there’s so much fun to be had!

✍ Team Bushy Crickets – Ambios Nature Conservation Trainees (Summer 2022)