Chris and I had been planning the move for years but the covid pandemic brought our move out of London forward, after 20 years. In February 2021 we found ourselves moving to Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire where Chris grew up. We’re now custodians of a small three hundred year old farm 1,000ft above sea level at the top of the pennine hills.
The climate is harsh here but there’s a sense of space and freedom we needed. Foremost I wanted to secure some land for a wildlife project and we have a wildflower meadow, a wildlife garden with pond, a further small wild patch of land and a young woodland coppice. All teeming with wildlife.
Comparatively smaller than those areas is a main garden area surrounded by, if not ancient, very old hedging loved by birds. In the garden I plan to let my love of plants go wild, growing my favourite flowers, shrubs and grasses among the existing trees. Along two boundaries of the land are old stone walls inhabited by frogs, toads, stoats and mice. On the Eastern slope to greet the warming sunrise is an allotment with fruit cage where I grow as many crops as I can.
We let some local residents use some of our land to grow their own crops and plan to keep this going, it’s rewarding to share, and also fair. Everyone is organic. Our chickens have their own little grassy area to wander in nearby. Long term, I’d like to see our farm become an example of a productive land that is regenerative for nature; increasing nature, not diminishing it. Showing that it is possible.
I’d also like to employ one or two part-time horticulture apprentices a year to pass on what I’ve been learning and open up this land to those people who want a career in horticulture (not design), if I can find the right funding to pay them. We would also like the land to be used by other artists in some way but we’re not sure how yet. We’re very conscious that to be stewards of this land is a privilege and comes with many responsibilities – most importantly, to protect it for wildlife, the environment and to show future generations that we at least tried to do the right thing.