So here we are all alone now in the winter, with just birds, rabbits and foxes making use of the campsite at the moment. So, it seems like a good time to tell you a bit more about the big picture here, how the campsite came about and what we hope to achieve...
For a while we felt somewhat helpless, amid the on-going depressing news about the climate crisis other ecological tragedies, until we decided that rather than relying on others to make changes, if we wanted to achieve anything in terms of reversing or adapting to these trends, it would be best to just do it ourselves.
We didn’t just decide to set up an eco-campsite on a whim (though it might have seemed that way to friends and family) the idea took time to form. Our inspiration came from seeing what other individuals were doing in the world. So we figured that maybe we could also start our own equally inspiring project.
As we have always loved camping, and had been growing our own organic food in our Brighton city garden, we thought about starting an eco-campsite, as a way of making a more sustainable and healthy life for ourselves.
So what are we actually doing?
In 2021 we basically swapped our house in Brighton for a 3 acre small-holding near a lovely beach in Wales. In financial terms they were worth about the same. But the reality in an urban environment is that you are reliant on resources brought in from elsewhere, primarily food to eat and fuel to keep warm.
For most of our lives our finances would not have allowed for us to make such a change, but the stars aligned one day and we were able to make the move. We were lucky, but we also have taken risks and made difficult choices in moving into an uncertain future. We both still have other work apart from the campsite, to help pay the bills. So far, it’s going pretty well, but who knows what will happen down the road…
So what are our aims and goals?
Basically to live a sustainable eco-friendly life, developing our own natural resources, working with nature and inspiring others.
Now don’t quote me on this, but I have done the maths and by my calculations our country (the UK) has around an acre of land per person, if it was all shared out equally. Which it isn’t. Obviously. But, we have about three acres in the field, and there are three of us in the household, so in a fair world, our place would be quite a good model for what would be possible in a country such as ours.
And how’s it working out so far?
The field had previously been used for grazing sheep. It was basically a windy hillside The only thing growing there was grass, so it is taking quite an effort to build up the natural resources to provide a sustainable life.
We built a polytunnel and have been able to grow quite a variety of crops in our first season.
We did really well with cucumbers, salad leaves of all kind, beetroot, kale, tomatoes, chilis, peas and beans. Some things we grew too much of (salad and kale), others we need more practice with.
We have a few pet chickens, who are providing daily eggs at the moment. Luckily they love kale and chard that we grew too much of, and other kitchen scraps. They are a regular source of amusement as they greet us every day.
We also have a modest vegetable garden, where we have grown enough potatoes to survive the winter, along with many other vegetables. I need not be using the past tense. It’s midwinter and we are still producing and harvesting lots of vegetables for daily use.
No harmful pesticides or artificial fertilisers have been used. The work has all been done by hand. It took time and effort, but that feels like effort well spent.
We have also planted two areas of the field to become orchards with a variety of fruit trees including cherry, apple, pear, medlar, plum and mulberry.
We have introduced willow hedging for shelter, and after around 5-7 years we should be able to regularly harvest a portion of each year’s willow growth on a scale that may be enough to heat our home. You can see that we have allowed the grass to to grow up and become a wild meadow.
We also planted a few hundred other trees including pine and fir trees, and a variety of native trees like rowan, oak, beech, hazel and many others to improve the biodiversity of the field. We want to provide a home for birds, insects and other creatures that are all part of a healthy ecosystem.
So that’s a bit about what makes our place different to many other campsites. We want to have campers come and stay, and see the site develop as the years go by, and get inspired. At the same time we are excited to continue to meet other people who are getting their sleeves rolled up and doing their own interesting projects; we did meet lots of fun and interesting people who camped here in 2022, and that really was the highlight for us.
Look! Look! A Boat!
There’s loads more to tell you, about what we are up to in 2023, like why a boat is landing in the field, but it will have to wait until the next update. Thanks for reading if you made it this far, we hope to see you in 2023.