April 14, 2023

A Wilder Elmore Experience

A Wilder Elmore Experience
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It will be just shy of one year before I leave my position as Sustainably and Marketing Coordinator at Elmore Court. Although my time here has been fairly short it’s been one of the most informative jobs I have ever had. From a technical background to owning a business and now moving into working outdoors, I've had an interesting career...And my time at Elmore has probably been one of the more interesting of them all!

Planting seedlings in the walled garden

My career has been fairly varied. With a background in architectural technology, I only spent around 3 years in practice (this is thanks to the 2009 recession). With a combined technical and creative background, a lot of the skills I have to offer are focused on that.

I also ran a business for 7 years, packing and shipping antiques worldwide and printing marketing material and stationery for small businesses. I’ve designed architectural metalwork for a manufacturing company, spent time landscaping, built basic websites and even helped small businesses with their social media posting… My family and I also imported Greek Honey into the UK before the dreaded Brexit made it slightly more difficult. A bit of a crazy mix and I guess I could be considered a “Jack of all Trades”.

All of those jobs were in themselves great learning experiences but having no experience of rewilding, let alone knowing it was even a thing, my time here at Elmore has been full of some fairly steep learning curves.

Starting a business with absolutely no idea of what cash flow means or having to get your head around submitting a VAT return is one hell of a journey…all fairly logical once you’ve done it a few times. Rewilding, however, is the complete opposite. Nature doesn’t move from point A to B. Things don’t always make sense. And the more I started to wrap my brain around what was going on, the more I realised how nature affects everyone more than they really know.

Packing Boxes
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Raw Honey

What really appealed to me in the job role was that it felt like Elmore Court wasn’t just a one-trick pony. There was so much going on. It wasn’t just about weddings and reflecting back at the last 11 months here; it feels like a lot of change was happening.

Not only were the treehouses being built, but the business was also embarking on a new regenerative agricultural growing pilot with WildFarmed, the rewilding project had started and was now entering a more formal stage of planning (this is where I came in) and the walled garden was in its first few seasons of growing food after being revived during the lockdown. It was an exciting time to join Team E. I wonder if the variety in the job role and the business mirrored the diversity I have had in my career and was one of the reasons I was drawn to the role.
 
I could bore you with everything I’ve done since starting, but I’m sure you wouldn’t be too bothered about the ins and outs of what has been a fairly arduous task…not in a way that what I was doing was boring, but in the way that there was an awful lot of emailing, phone calls, meetings and arranging visits. I am very happy to report that it has all paid off and we have an amazing team helping us on the rewilding project.

Lectures from the University of Gloucestershire...and me!
Masters students from the University of Gloucestershire getting ready to get core samples from Madams Pond
Masters students from the University of Gloucestershire getting ready to get core samples from Madams Pond
First year students from the University of Gloucestershire here doing course work
Misty morning walk with Gloucestershire Naturalist Society

In the last year we've built some amazing relationships with various organisations and individuals who have been incredible in helping us work our rewilding project

The University of Gloucestershire and their very enthusiastic and capable students. They are of course supported by an incredible team of lecturers who are all unbelievably passionate about what they do.

The Gloucestershire Naturalist Society whose members have and will continue to visit the rewilding land. A lot of the lovely members are doing amazing work helping us with monitoring various different things on the land (lichen, mosses, moths, and butterflies)

Credit Nature - a forward-thinking organisation who are at the cutting edge of private funding for rewilding projects.

A handful of local birders have been spending countless hours walking the rewilding landscape, helping us monitor our flying friends. Mike King updates his website on a daily basis so it’s worth having a look if you’re interested to see what’s around.

What I really wanted to get across with this blog is how learning about rewilding has changed my perspective on nature and how humans interact with it. Firstly, I don’t think that rewilding is the only answer.

I do, however, believe that it is part of AN answer. We will never have a complete picture or strategy or clear pathway on how we should work with nature. What is important is that society gets better at living alongside nature. And the way this happens will keep changing and it should keep changing because people change, our knowledge and understanding of the world improve (hopefully) and society as a whole, changes.

This is where rewilding fits in for me. It forms part of a newer way of living alongside the natural world. It begins to recognise that we can’t always control our environment and that sometimes letting go is better than keeping a firm grip on things. We have seen rewilding fail but it has also been a huge success when done correctly.

We can’t rewild the world - it really just isn’t realistic. We have to live somewhere, right? We also need to eat. And eating means we need space to produce the food we consume. It’s how we produce this food that is important and working with WildFarmed is showing how we do this in a way that is good for the planet.

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So, besides producing food in a sustainable way and letting some land go back to a wilder, more natural state, what else needs to be done? What else forms part of the answer?

I have no idea, but I do feel that humans need to change the way things are done. We need to have a more balanced approach that involves giving something back. We should also be taking back from nature in a way that supports it, improves it, or at the very least, doesn’t fuck it all up. That’s how it feels things have been going and although there is a lot of noise out there saying that we’re all doomed, it’s never too late to start. 

I hope that my love for nature and the work I have done here at Elmore Court Estate has come through in this post. This does beg the question as to why I’m leaving.

Well, in the past 10 years, I discovered a passion for vegetable gardening. I started growing stuff in containers in a patio garden 10 years ago and have progressed to having an allotment that I tend all year round. 

The thing with growing vegetables is that I have continually become more obsessed with doing it and for the past few years, I’ve started working towards changing careers (hopefully for the last time!!!) into something more aligned with growing food. I’m currently doing a qualification in horticulture and continually improving my knowledge of growing vegetables on a smaller, more human scale. I strongly believe that market gardening is something that should be revived into the industry that it once was, where all towns and cities had an abundance of local farms supplying freshly grown food to people.

On The Allotment
Birds Eye View
Freshly Picked Peppers
Cabbage
Kohl Rabi
Allotment Haul
Big Veg

Yes, my role here at Elmore has given me a lot of good exposure to this, but I’ve felt that I need more.

I need to be completely engrossed in growing vegetables and working with plants every single day. This needs to be my priority, so I am making it one.

I am sad to leave a place where there are a lot of exciting things going on, but I am also incredibly grateful for the experience I have had here. It will serve me well moving forward into my new career.

It's been an amazing year and I'm looking forward to seeing the story of Elmore Court Estate rewilding project unfold.

All the best to my friends and colleagues I made while working here! I'm sure we'll cross paths again.

Cynneth

 

P.S In case you didn’t know the saying, the full quote goes something like this: “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one”.

 

 

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