What we do at The Husbandry School
At The Husbandry School we have a vision for the revitalisation of rural resources, employing good husbandry practices to provide real benefit for our environment and our local community.
Husbandry is an ancient word meaning to ‘take care of the boundaries of what you are responsible for and everything within it’ – it is the life-giving business of looking after the interaction between human and planet. This meaning has all but gone into obscurity and we believe that a much-needed, contemporary re-working of the traditional values and practices of husbandry offers some valuable answers to the global problems that we are all facing today.
Our forty-seven-acre site sits atop a hill outside Ashburton in South Devon, with views over rolling hills. It is an experimental learning centre where we explore ideas and practices of ecologically sound land management in three main fields of work: one as an alternative education provision for children & young people, another growing & producing wholesome food, and a third as a rural skills & crafts training provider for the wider public. The cross-pollination between these activities creates a rich learning space and a supportive, therapeutic environment.
Re-engage & Re-inspire
During term-time we deliver a therapeutic education programme to re-engage and re-inspire children and young people with additional needs who are struggling in other education settings. Our programme uses practical activities and a structured day to nurture the building blocks of self-esteem and resilience; supporting students as they develop tools to self-regulate social, emotional, and behavioural interactions.
Wholesome & local food production
Our land-based business encompasses organic vegetable growing, a small herd of sheep & goats and land stewardship activities, such as traditional hedgerow restoration. We keep heritage varieties & breeds alive and well, providing local food for local people through our Veg Bag scheme, as well as supplying quality, nutritious produce to chefs in Devon and further afield. Our farming practices adhere to the Wholesome Food Association principles, and we work with nature to keep our crops healthy; using natural fertilization, plant health and pest control measures to look after the land that looks after us.
Volunteering & Learning
Alongside these activities we run a volunteering programme for adults to engage with food growing, ornamental horticulture and land stewardship activities, as well as public courses in rural skills & crafts such as dry-stone walling, basket weaving and green woodwork. Our more involved Husbandry courses summarise our ethos and practice for others to learn from and apply to their own land and lifestyle.
Our Seed Classroom
As we grow as an organisation, we plan to widen our therapeutic offer to a greater number of children, as well as to adults with physical & mental health difficulties and additional learning needs. And for this, we need to grow our classroom spaces! Creating the Seed Classroom will allow for additional activity space for this work, as well as for our public courses.
Currently we have one main school building and a small potting shed at the top of our site that we use for delivery of horticultural sessions. These spaces are predominantly used during term-time by our students, and as such we are only able to offer sessions to adults on weekends and in school holidays. Critically, the Seed Classroom will also provide us with extra teaching & delivery space if there are further requirements for working within COVID-19 social distancing guidelines over the next few years, building greater resilience into our provision.
The Seed Classroom will be a therapeutic and practical space, designed to be both restful and functional. Nestled in between traditional Devon hedgerows, our memorial garden and polytunnels, the Seed Classroom will have easy access to our growing areas whilst also providing quiet space for down-time and reflection. The classroom is designed to have an earthy feel, complementing its surroundings and making the most of the vista.
Seed Classroom location & view:
The classroom will be constructed from local timber, a concrete floor and unframed double-glazed windows, occupying a 9.1m x 7.5m footprint with a 2.8m high apex roof. Divided into two sections with adjoining doorway, the front half provides space for potting & sowing, whilst the back half will be used for equipment storage and a small kitchenette for tea breaks. The structure will be surrounded by a wheelchair accessible brick patio, covered by an overhanging roof to provide additional space for activities, storage and tea breaks taking in the view. A disabled access toilet will be accessible from the patio.
We've secured half of the funding we need to build the classroom, and we're aiming to raise the remaining £5,000 to ensure it can be kitted out with all of the adaptive features, access and tools that we've planned for.
Please help us out where you can - we've got some amazing rewards and we're looking forward to creating this new space and welcoming more people to the hill!