Rebel Farming in the Wye Downs
18th October 2022
It has been 7 years since I left my life in London to to explore Kent. I was very much an urban kid but I always had a keen fascination for the outdoors. This was mainly brought about through the television screen and the incredible work of David Attenborough. I marvelled in wonders of nature whenever I left London, looking under every rock and in the holes of trees looking for life. After much undecidedness trying to find my ground in London as a young adult, I finally became a tree surgeon at 26 and I managed to explore further, climbing the overgrown survivors of the urban growth in the vast gardens of South East London. The cycles of life were fascinating and none more so then when my son Freddy was born in 2011. This really was the moment that opened my soul and made me realise that I wanted to get out of the city to find his future within nature and I only had to go 50 miles into Kent to find it!
Now 40 and living in Brook in East Kent, an old homestead of 3 acres, I live day-to-day working with nature in the incredible surroundings of the Wye Downs, within the AONB. In the last 7 years I have connected with nearly every native plant and animal that the Kent has to offer, as well as working with plants from around the world. I have learnt the cycles of the seasons, the patterns of the stars, the moon and I now grow food for a living, engineering compost and creating an abundance of biodiversity above and below ground by carefully observing nature and mimicking its patterns of beauty.
This change was inspired by my own childhood fascinations but were further brought about a real need for change from the continued destruction of earth’s ecosystems and a desire to find some hope for the future and that of our children.
Finding permaculture was the real moment for me. A model of design that looks at how to create abundance without causing harm to our precious life on earth. It takes into consideration the people and the future in an ethical design process that can be applied to most problems. It creates a positive solution in the face of any adversity and it’s especially known for creating an abundance of healthy food as well as building up a strong community.
Returning to ground of earth I am self-taught in this careful art of growing while encouraging diversity. I have been applying permaculture to my life and the 3 acres we live on as well as to lots of other projects I have now been involved with in over the 7 years. Using local ‘waste’ I have designed a market garden which provides a huge amount of diversity in edible and ornamental plants both annual and perennial. A burgeoning array of local wildlife enjoy and help me maintain a lovely balance within this space. The human connection to nature has become apparent.
I started Rebel Farmer in 2019 to create a brand for my work and help bring together the community around the act of growing local, seasonal produce and I have had an amazing response. Growing your own food as a community is a truly rebellious act when we look at the current systems in place that continue to destroy landscape in the false belief that it feeds the world. There is an alternative and it is ‘gaining ground’ within the public eye as we seek ways to avoid climate catastrophe and to build on our health and wellbeing.
We are working with schools and institutions to create educational environments, employment, and well-being within our local communities. We work with conservation and science experiments; we create super nutritional microgreens which can help build immunity while building soil biology and sequestering carbon. This year we have even built a cob oven from local and natural materials so we can bake bread and hold pizza workshops working with our home-grown heritage grains.
A large tipi and additional bell tents have access to our polytunnel kitchen workshop space. This creates a campsite during the warmer months so visitors can come and explore Kent from further afield connecting to our landscape with fire pits under the stars, farming and food workshops and tours.
We are helping put Brook on the map for agricultural heritage, an amazing place to visit just 50 miles from my home city London. Full circle it would seem but as we continue to observe and explore these patterns, that circle that just keeps turning and growing. You can find out more, book a visit and become inspired here.