Mike Jones's guest blog on the Transition Network's social reporters…
Here are some of the places you might explore with us.
Totnes – with more listed buildings per population than any other town in Britain, Totnes is a jewel of Tudor architecture and has a proud history that goes back much further than that. But there is a lot more to Totnes than its history. It (probably) has more solar panels per population as well. Rooted in its long-standing traditions, with a vibrant forward-looking culture, Totnes is surprisingly dynamic and lively for a small, rural town. There is a lot to learn here and great times to be had.
Transition Town Totnes (TTT) is the world’s first Transition Town. For most of our tours, this provides the main focus. We provide the official tour for TTT. We visit as many of the TTT projects as we can, which nearly always includes the humble Transition offices, a household participating in our award-winning Transition Streets scheme and some time getting to grips with our REconomy Project. We also explore a lot of the thinking and methodology that underpins it all. For many of our longer residential programmes, particularly the ‘Leadership for Resiliency’ programmes, TTT provides a case study to fit within a broader, deeper transformational experience.
Conker shoes – hand made in Totnes, these are cool shoes made with love and to last for life. With the shop, office and workshop all within the same ground floor directly on our high street, this is a great way to see relocalisation in action. A great visit!
Greenfibres – an organic textiles business, managed by local social entrepreneur, William Lana, who is involved in establishing international certification for organic textiles. He is also a Trustee of the Transition Network.
Riverford Organic Vegetables – from a small patch on a young man’s father’s farm to a £40+million business, this is the largest veg box delivery business and winner of various national accolades. Riverford is no ordinary farm and this is no ordinary farm visit. Experience organic vegetables being grown, harvested and then served up in a delicious meal in their award-winning Field Kitchen. Inspiring and delicious!
Funghi Futures – turning waste coffee grounds into edible mushrooms. This innovative social enterprise is on a mission to turn the UK into a country of budding fungiphiles by making it as easy as possible to grow a whole range of gourmet mushrooms at home and in the garden. They grow them from organic waste and make the UK’s first gourmet mushroom grow kit from recycled coffee grounds.
This is one of a cluster of innovative little enterprises clustered around School Farm on the Dartington Estate.
Dartington Estate – a magnificent medieval estate worthy of a visit in its own right, Dartington has been at the heart of social, agricultural, ecological and economic experimentation for nearly a hundred years. Activities on the estate include Schumacher College, Martin Crawford’s forest garden, a host of sustainable land-based enterprises (see Funghi Futures), and the UK’s first National Certificate in Sustainable Horticulture.
Occombe Farm – reconnecting people with their food and countryside is the mission on this working, 150-acre organic farm, which is run by the Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust as a social enterprise and education centre. Projects on site include a busy education programme, farm shop, nature trails, cafe, renewable energy, strawbale classroom and teaching kitchen, a bunk-house, a community market garden, and plenty of opportunities to get up close to the animals.
Landmatters – records from Victorian times indicate that there were over 10,000 houses of this design in England. The people of Landmatters Cooperative have revived this building technique but in a very modern context. They are pioneering sustainable ways to live and work on the land through permaculture. This a fascinating and totally unique project that challenges people on many levels and never fails to amaze and inspire.
Sharpham Estate – centered round on an impressive 1770 Palladian mansion, which commands views over the most spectacular section of the River Dart estuary. Today the estate is managed to a vision of commercial, experimental, educational and spiritual advancement. Its farm operations include a specialty cheesery and vineyard, and a Trust oversees charitable activity including a range of programme for connection, education and retreat, including Sharpham Outdoors and a retreat for Buddhist enquiry. It also provides a great place to stay for residential programmes.
Tuckenhay and the Dart Estuary – nestled peacefully in beautiful Bow Creek, part of the Dart Estuary, this postcard-perfect village was once the heart of bustling, hydro powered, riverside industry. As such, it is a great place to step back in time whilst remaining in living memory. From elders of the village, the names of the houses and the landscape, we learn about our recent, local, industrial heritage.
We also launch here for Canoe Adventures on the River Dart Estuary.
Tuckenhay also has one of the best pubs in the area providing a great place to celebrate a great day out and chew the fat over all the amazing things we have done together – for over 18 groups of course!
Dartmoor – wild and beautiful. In dramatic contrast to the mild and cosy valleys around Totnes, Dartmoor is often dubbed as ‘Britain’s last wilderness’. As we discuss on our programmes, this is not strictly true but it does bear true to Dartmoor’s inspiring character as the wildest area of countryside in southern Britain.
With archaeological evidence of some of Britain’s earliest human settlers and of having undergone significant ecological change, it provides a perfect platform to explore the constant change in our world and consider its significance to the way we live our lives today and how we might best plan for our future.