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Saturday, June 22, 2024
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EditorialsUpFront 7/22

UpFront 7/22

In his audio interview with Seth Dellow (see marshwoodvale.com), Alex Toogood compares plants growing in a pot to how life and our environment can be limiting. Sometimes the pot becomes too small for the plant; it suffers from stress and can no longer thrive. Explaining how he came from being a civil engineer in London and the Middle East to living at Tinkers Bubble, a small off-grid community in Somerset, he talks about how he could see that stress was a major part of his working environment. He saw that those he worked with, already ten years ahead in career progression, were also stressed. This made him realise that living life, ‘as modernity has structured it’, often creates conditions that are not only detrimental to the wellbeing of individuals but also detrimental to the world around us. Like many before him, he asked the question whether there could be another way. Now, after 18 months in Somerset, he thinks that Tinkers Bubble is at least one form of an answer. Small communities outside of mainstream society are often classed as ‘alternative’ and to an extent that is true, but over many years we have learned a great deal from alternative ways of living; most especially how to enhance our natural habitat and how biodiversity helps farmers bring valuable benefits. Citing ‘food security’ as the reason for its recent backtracking on calls for more farmland to be set over to rewilding, the government has been accused of missing the bigger picture. But opposing points of view are often too entrenched. After a beautiful June weekend visiting inspiring wildflower meadows like Goren Farm near Stockland and Hooke Farm near Beaminster, where environmental author Julia Hailes revealed an extraordinary transformation of paddock and scrubland into an ambitious wildlife habitat, it’s easy to see why rewilding and wildflower projects have seen a huge growth in popularity in recent years. While the government’s change of heart, and perhaps unavoidable change of focus, has reignited vociferous debate on the use of farmland, perhaps an ‘alternative’ solution would be to find ways to achieve both goals; food security and biodiversity. It doesn’t have to be either-or.

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