It all makes sense!

25th January 2012 by

Felicity, of our Wild West ’09 cycle tour, talks about how Otesha has influenced her & the exciting new projects she’s been inspired to work on since!

Summing up how Otesha has influenced me is actually quite hard, simply because it has, in a bigger way than I could ever have imagined.

Back in Dec ’08 I applied for the role of Tour Liaison for Otesha’s 2009 ‘Wild West’ cycle tour. In an instant I knew it was an exciting opportunity, incorporating several of my key passions: cycling, performing & environmental issues. Staring right at me was my dream project.

After a trip to London & friendly interview, they gave me the role of Tour Liaison for Wild West ’09 (a 6-week tour of Wales from June-July).  10 days later I was flying to India to volunteer for 11 weeks, including time spent with The Centre for Tribal & Rural Development, a world away from the UK & all it has to offer. This was my second trip abroad volunteering in Tribal villages, having previously done so in Costa Rica. Understanding & knowing how a community can survive with no running water or electricity is humbling; add that to the daily threat of disease, poverty & natural disasters and suddenly I can no longer complain if I break a nail!

The Wild West Tour took me to some of the most beautiful & scenic places in Wales. Starting in Machynlleth we worked our way south along the coast, finally stopping in Merthyr Tydfil, an area of high deprivation & unemployment.

My memories of Wales & The Otesha Project filled me with such a warm sense of happiness it brings a huge smile to my face writing this. For six weeks the sun shone, the hills loomed & happiness followed wherever we went. I want to say it was tough & physically demanding but if it was, I don’t remember.

I do remember all the random places we slept – barns, fields, church halls & strangers’ houses. I remember all the friendly & kind people we met who humbled & inspired us. I remember rivers, fields, forests, towns, cities & the sea. I can’t decide if seeing dolphins in Aberystwyth, coasteering off St Davids or staying on a permaculture farm was my favourite experience – in fact it all was. Even the hills.

I’ve made friends for life, seen things that will stay with me always & proved to everyone that it is possible to get a tan in Wales.

And so life goes on. After Otesha I was filled with a feeling of great satisfaction as if it all suddenly made sense & I knew what I wanted to know. My next project was with a theatre Company called ‘Stuff & Nonsense’ working as a creative assistant for their new show ‘The Enormous Turnip’.  I had another incredible experience working on this show & even to this day, the reviews keep coming in thick & fast with the latest informing us that it was Jackson’s Lane best selling Christmas show in their 35 year history.

As a firm believer in everything happening for a reason, I found myself going on yet another journey after this, although this time as ‘Youth Arts Development Manager’ for Hampshire Museums and Galleries Trust, working on a specific project called The EDGE Project; Engage, Discover, Generate, Enthusiasm.

I was chosen to lead a three year programme of events, exhibitions & performances for & by young people in various locations across Hampshire. The brief was as broad as I wanted it to be – I’m given freedom to deliver & create what young people want to do & see in these venues. I’ve hosted band nights & exhibitions, music workshops & fashion projects.

But by far my most important & biggest project to date has been GreenSpace. A couple of my young volunteers came to me with an idea to create an allotment. My ears instantly pricked up with excitement as I knew the idea had room to grow (excuse the pun!).  I approached a local Art Gallery I was working with & GreenSpace was born.

November 2010 saw our first day on site clearing an area covered in brambles at the back of the venue. 26 people turned up to help the first day. After that it was planning & implementing the next stage.

The young people designed it to look as creative as possible, as well as having full disabled access & being practical. Donations were sought from all over the local area, including 32 planks, 20 tons of soil, various plants, child friendly wood chip & 2 compost bins. Subsequent donations saw us add to site with water butts, as well as being able to purchase tools for volunteers.

Over the course of 2010 we engaged with around 300+ people. We ran maintenance days, planting days, green workshops for children & young people. We had an extensive launch & registered as part of the Eden Project’s Big Lunch-with every event operating a ‘Bring n’ Share’ Lunch. We held a green exhibition, with 120 young people from the area exhibiting their green work. A harvest Supper & Art Cracker event saw us through to the end of the year & on to 2012.

We have now started our second site at a local art centre, with our next day planned for a few weeks’ time. We received more donations & funding to expand & are planning many more sites for the future. We’ve helped to educate young & old about gardening, sustainability, recycling, growing your own & much more. (Check out GreenSpace’s Facebook and Twitter.)

To ask whether Otesha influenced me in shaping this project? I can safely say, 100%, it most definitely has.

If you’re feeling inspired to join a six-week Otesha world-changing adventure you can find out more and apply here. See you on the road!

Sally forth with seasonal feasts

1st August 2011 by

This month, whilst the freshest, crunchiest, fruitiest, deliciousest, localest produce is in abundance, we challenge you to hold a seasonal feast.

Find a friend with an allotment or a neighbour growing in their garden and beg some excess off them (we can almost guarantee that they’ll have more courgettes than they know what to do with). Visit the market and buy up as much British produce as you can carry home. Scramble in the brambles for some blackberries. Take all your bundles home and invite your people over for a feast of plenty.

Seasonal recipes here

Find out what’s in season here

Why we forgot how to grow food

We are heading towards The End of Days, and you’d better get yourself an allotment
an unexpected piece of wisdom from that great environmentalist Jeremy Clarkson.


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