On Wednesday 25th April a group from Sustainable Devizes visited Caenhill Countryside Centre and were kindly shown round by Chris & Helie Franklin, plus a kid called Lucky and a lamb called Snowy - both born during the cold snap in March.
Based at the farm where Chris grew up the Caenhill Countryside Centre is now bringing agriculture and horticulture to children and young people by providing courses and hands on experiences. In particular they are able to provide an engaging environment for those who have struggled within a more academic institution. There is however much that we could all learn from what is going on there...
Two things that struck me were:
a) How such a wide range of animals were living together peacefully. In the pen with the young lambs there were chickens, cats and turkeys, whilst a line of geese wandered about the barn. All the animals there seemed really calm and at ease living with each other. This seems contrary to the narrative of 'survival of the fittest' and competition. Clearly they do not need to compete as their needs are being met.
b) Chris and Helie run the centre on a charitable basis with a very low budget and this directly leads to a very sustainable approach to running it. Clearly nothing is wasted and 'waste' from other people is given a new lease of life there. As one example a newly erected section of post and rail fence was constructed from the remains of a fence that another farmer had removed. This wood was going to be burned, but with time and effort from volunteers it is once again serving a useful purpose. In economic terms the effort to salvage the fencing didn't make sense to the original farmer, however once the cost of labour is removed the true value of the material was evident.