HoneyWoods Wellbeing In Nature creates meaningful learning experiences in woodlands that connect people to nature, using crafts, nature ID, bushcraft skills, campfire cooking and other activities such as forest bathing, meditation, and just good old walks in the woods.
We have now taken on land that we are calling Little Parks Farm (my husband and I own it and HoneyWoods will be running events on it), where we hope to close a loop in the story of some of our crafts.
We are growing our own willow which we are already using on the Mayflower Project to make willow crafts, from dream catchers to simple baskets.
We often teach dying, spinning and weaving with wool from UK sustainable flocks. We would love to keep animals ourselves so that groups can stay on the land, learn their craft while meeting the animals that provide the fleeces.
Groups can learn about the animals and the sustainability of keeping small flocks to improve biodiversity and land quality, sequestering carbon while grazing. They will leave with a new skill but also an understanding of the importance of using wool over man made synthetic fibres that are full of chemicals, and cost the environment through high water use, ending up in landfill.
Wool is biodegradable, entirely natural, as long as no chemicals are added when colouring or preserving the wool. Wool is an amazing textile, full of important properties that make it hugely attractive. One of the big benefits of wool is that it can absorb moisture amazingly well. Wool does this by drawing moisture into the core of its fibres – it keeps you dry, cool in hot weather, warm in the cold and is also fire retardant.
We then take this one step further and use the wild plants from the land itself to dye the wool and textiles, creating beautiful hand made products made entirely from nature on the farm. Groups can also learn about animal care, and even try out hand shearing the traditional way.
We have purchased three rare breed Portland ewes but we would like to add more rare breed sheep to the HoneyWoods flock, breeds that are either local and at risk, or provide us with good quality fleeces for our crafts, while managing our wild flower meadows for us. We have met with two local Shetland breeders who are helping us to choose our starter flock of ewes. Our current sheep have settled in well and we are working with their breeders to make sure we are looking after them well.
We know from our goats at Tortworth Arboretum that animals can be therapeutic, often allowing individuals who struggle with social interaction to find a connection with another living being that is non judgemental, simple, innocent – earning the trust of a goat or a sheep and feeding them by hand, looking after their welfare, can be transformative to some people.
We are members of the Rare Breed Survival Trust, Shetland Sheep Society and the Somerset Smallholders Association.
Our aim is to be a part of the conversation about how farming can, done properly, add to biodiversity and improve our countryside, keeping traditional skills and trades alive, connecting people and livelihoods with the landscape around us for a healthier and sustainable future.