Since we moved here in July 2007, we have been learning a massive amount from the land at Cotna, both on a practical level & also more in more reflective way. Our early days of bringing the land back into more robust health have moved onto gradually expanding our productive areas, planting more apple & nut orchards, taking in permaculture ideas & inspiration from the idea of the forest garden.
The soil is everything: straightaway we knew that we had to bring life back to the land which over many years had become depleted. So it has been our main mission to compost, compost, compost & bring in as much nourishment as possible with wheelbarrows of manure, trailer-loads of green-waste, kilos of worms…We now have 2 fully productive polytunnels & a large vegetable garden which is being expanded to respond to our need for more space to grow our expanding salad leaves business & other vegetables for Cotna residents & guests.
Better than organic: organic means much more than ‘no chemicals’. It means bringing in micro-organisms, fungi, soil fauna and worms which aerate the soil so that it is a living, healthy environment. This way the plants grow better, are full of flavour like people say they used to be, and the nutrient levels are far higher than in mass-produced foods. Seasonal, local, chemical-free has to be our motto!
The no dig approach: this revolutionized our practice – thanks to Charles Dowding! It doesn’t necessarily mean less work (though perhaps less back-breaking), but different activity. This includes mulching with compost & organic matter like hay, paper or cardboard; lots and lots of weeding to keep the slugs at bay as well minimise competition for space, light & nutrients; growing in well-composted & undisturbed soil to promote healthy & vigorous growth.
Doing v being:a constant balancing act which is ongoing in our busy lives here at Cotna. But we have also started to structure this by organising yoga courses, meditation & other awareness-raising sessions to bring in more appreciation of our surroundings, stillness, awareness in the midst of activity.
WWOOF: We are host members of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and warmly welcome the help of volunteers in return for on-the-job teaching, food & accommodation. In fact, we rely on our fantastic woofers to help us keep Cotna going! See our volunteering page for more information and stories of past wwoofing exploits. For more details about wolfing and how to join up, see the WWOOF website.
Such a good job is being done here – having been ‘in the business’ we know there’s a lot of graft as well as craft & this holding of yours is SUCH s good example of just how it should be! (Chris & Helen, Somerset)