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Towards a more regenerative tourism

Updated: Jun 18

So it turns out blogs are like buses. Writing about farm staycations last week has given me some further thoughts to share.

I am reminded of when, a few years ago, I hired a minidigger and driver for the day to level the ground in preparation for building the Hedgerow Hut (more on that another time). The driver turned up late and in a foul mood. He was cursing the traffic, his busy schedule, and life generally. But after spending the day at Pitchcott Farm I'll always remember what he said before he left: 'I don't want to leave'. He said it wistfully as he took a deep breath and filled his lungs as well as his field of vision with the expanse of fresh country air.

Similar effects happen to delivery drivers and local tradespeople who are welcome to linger a little longer on site than than they need to. I even have an arrangement with one of them, Andy, who comes for walks with his dog in exchange for some of the jobs that he does at the farm. This was his suggestion, not mine, because of the value and benefits he recognises the landscape provides to his health and wellbeing.

Earlier this year a group of eager and committed students from a local school in Aylesbury helped to plant over 150 trees to create two new hedgerows on the south side of the farm. A month later a larger group from the same school came back to work on several projects, including preparing mulch for the newly planted trees, painting and repurposing oil drums, and clearing brash to create new wildlife habitat. This is a win-win both for schools seeking oudoor learning opportunities, and for the farm where there are no shortage of tasks from which to learn.

The greatest learning from all of this is that the restoration of nature and the health of communities are interlinked. In my efforts as custodian and steward of the land I hold a responsibility to find ways for nature to thrive and flourish, while also opening the farm gate for people to experience the benefits that nature provides.

I have been mowing paths within the meadow this week and designating camping pitches in the long grass before it is cut for hay next month. It's been fascinating to see how the highest concentration of yellow rattle wildflowers is around the firepit in the area near the pond. I wonder if this is because people have helped to spread the wildflower seed with their gentle trampling in this area. Yellow rattle is much sought after in wildflower meadows as it helps to suppress grasses and allows other wildflowers to grow.

One of the groups of campers who stayed last month took the idea of regenerative tourism to another level. They built a table and chairs from wood and other materials in the meadow. I didn't ask them to, they just did it. They improved the landscape, for the benefit of people to follow.

Nature is pointing us towards this shift to collaborate and create.

We will gather in this same spot for PitchShift at the end of July when we will no doubt create something new for the benefit of both nature and people who come after us.

Join us, there's a good chance you won't want to leave.


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