Green shoots from the rubble…
‘In countless localities, like green shoots pushing up through the rubble, new social and economic arrangements are sprouting.
‘Not waiting for our national or state politicos to catch up with us, we are banding together, taking action in our own communities.
‘Flowing from our creativity and collaboration on behalf of life, these actions may look marginal, but they hold the seeds for the future.’
So said veteran change agent Joanna Macy, in her vision of ‘The Great Turning’ that characterises our turbulent time in history. So what’s that got to do with North Farm, you may ask.
Six months ago, the two of us – Gai and Jen here at North Farm – suddenly saw our dreams for this blessed place reduced to rubble by a life-threatening accident (a falling tree smashed Jen’s right arm … so close to her head!).
All seemed lost.
But now, looking back, we can see that fresh green shoots were already starting to sprout. Perhaps you know that feeling: of surprising opportunities arising in the aftermath of crisis?
When we first arrived here, we had a vision of a nature-based retreat venue, a sacred gathering place that soulful practitioners would appreciate. A space where they could take their groups closer to nature, and closer to the heart of their practice. Our experience has helped us see that we are actually closer to creating our dream, now, than we’d realised.
In fact, seeds we’d sown years earlier were actually already springing to life!
For example, last year we had our eyes opened to new ways of using this space – starting with the amazing yoga teachers Lara Zilibowitz and Brooke Elliston, whose visionary use of bell tents at the first Back2Roots retreat here was a revelation. At last we had been shown, thanks to Lara and Brooke, how to ‘scale’ our enterprise to suit different group sizes in an affordable way.
Now we work with The Stylish Camping Company, a great local business that hires out solar-powered, well-ventilated bell tents with plenty of head room. This means we can now easily accommodate 30 or so people, in tents with wide open views to the north yet only a hop and a skip from a fully-equipped amenities block to the south.
We really love how Lara, and her fabulous teaching partner Brooke, use the space here to take their yoga tribe closer to nature on Back2 Roots retreats. And we’re not alone in loving what they do … spaces are filling fast on their sixth retreat here, in November!
Another encouraging green shoot that emerged last year was the Healing Holiday Retreats that inspirational locals Debbie and James Pask are hosting here. We really love the way Debbie and James tune in to the wise and gentle creatures here on our farm, as well as the natural beauty of the surrounding Bellingen Shire.
We’ve been so inspired by seeing these two lovely new ways that North Farm can serve as a retreat space. From what had felt like the rubble of our dream, green shoots have appeared.
This email is our way of flagging that we’re back from the brink, re-energised by the vision that originally inspired us when we came here 10 years ago, and ready to raise a new banner that we hope will signal our intentions more clearly. We have decided to give our business a new name, one that reflects what we see as most valued by the clients we love to work with, as well as our own passion for being here.
We’ve chosen the name Loving Nature Retreat Space. To clarify, North Farm is the property where we live. The retreat facilities – including the hall, the barn, the accommodation, pool etc – are what we are now calling the Loving Nature Retreat Space.
We’ve rejigged our website to reflect a more explicit focus on the nature-based experiences that we love, and the loving kindness that we find so inspiring in some of our fellow humans.
Yes, we will continue to offer farmstay accommodation in school holidays (we absolutely love seeing how city kids learn to trust and connect with the farm animals), but our main focus now is on connecting with practitioners looking for an alternative kind of retreat venue, one that doesn’t involve carbon-intensive flights to luxury resorts in faraway places and that gives them an accessible place to take their tribe – a place they can personalise to make it truly their ‘bush retreat in beautiful Bellingen’.
And meanwhile, as we sharpen the focus of our vision, our little herd of dairy goats continues to thrive as various biodynamic practices improve the pasture here at North Farm.
Little Lottie, our youngest goat, has even turned out to be a ‘maiden milker’ by giving lots of milk despite never having been near a buck! She now gives the sweetest milk imaginable because the delicate tissue of her udder hasn’t ever been bumped by over-enthusiastic suckling kids, and she has never had the milk dragged out of her by a vacuum-driven machine. We now know that virgin milk makes very good cheese!
That’s enough news from us for now. We went quiet for a while but we’re back now, with renewed focus. We’ll be posting news, musings and images of Loving Nature – on Facebook,Instagram and our new mobile-friendly website. We’d love to stay in touch. But if you’d rather not hear from us again, we thank you for reading our news thus far – and suggest you click ‘unsubscribe’ to take yourself off our list.
If you know of kindred spirits who might be interested in our new nature-based direction … do please share.
Sending love from North Farm – we’d love to see you here in 2017!
Gai and Jen XX