Teaching for Learning

Painted by: Edward Campbell, Photo: BrigiTree

During my visit at Brockwood Park School I met with dr. Gopal, who shared a video with me. Its called  “Teaching for Learning”. I found the question about emotional dependance most revealing. You can hear it the video between min 38,20 and min 40,30.

Later on Gopal gives an interesting example about creation of emotional dependence, drawing upon the experiment conducted in the school during the process of evaluation:

A child interacts with a teacher, showing his drawing of a flower (for the first time). His eyes remain glued on the flower. Teacher showed an emotionally charged appreciation towards the child, praising the child. Next time the little one presented another drawing. His little eyes were no longer glued on the image, they were looking towards teacher’s eyes – waiting to receive appreciation.

Gopal points out this can lead to emotional dependance. Focus of a teacher should stay on the “flower”. Appreciation and interest have to be expressed but the attention, conversation and focus have to be managed with care and awareness.

“Absorbed” Photo: Brigitree

What would our educational system look like if grades were taken out of the equation, if the knowledge eager minds would learn for the sake of learning?

Do you think there would be a completely different attitude and motivation, which doesn’t create dependence? Would that true motivation come from within? Would individuals no longer cling on to other people’s reactions but become more self confident, independent, curious?

Would this support a different way a being, a Self-driven way of being, fueled by one’s own will to learn, live, to be, to explore, without waiting/ fearing to be endorsed or punished for doing or not doing something/ anything?

The Small School in Hartland

Visit to the Small School

Driving from Totnes to Hartland, over the misty Dartmoor felt like flying through 4 seasons in less than 3 hours’ time.

Eddie and I arrived at Hartland at 11am with a great wholehearted sunny welcome and were kindly received at the Small School by a newly appointed head teacher Louise Hopkinsons. We were offered a cup of herbal tea by two lovely school girls who later on give us a tour around the small school. We shown around the classrooms, photo studio, computer room, music balcony, kitchen, big dining room, beautiful backyard with fresh vegetable garden and a climbing tree.

Finally we entered a buzzing classroom with 8 school children and Louise. We quietly sat down and joined the lesson. What an inspiring Friday lesson it was; discussing about emotions, feelings, and how to deal with them in and outside the school. Comments coming from 11 year old ones were incredibly mature and wise.

They should not be forgotten; hence I have captured a few of them in a short video you can find and watch below.

After some time we headed off to the kitchen and helped peeling apples for a desert. Lunch was being prepared by one of the parents and 2 school girls. It was pasta day and everybody was looking forward to the moment, when we all sat down at the table and started eating together, like one big family. School felt like home and I have truly felt that feel, which was often mentioned by the children.

Lunch was a bit delayed, but not a big thing; we were well entertained by Eddie and two other boys, playing music on drums, bass and electric guitar.

After half an hour we moved down the stairs to the dining area, said our grace and received a wonderful, nourishing, locally and organically grown food cooked with love. After we finished our second portion of delicious desert Wendy suggested to run out and climb up the tree. It was a perfectly climbable tree and the sun decided to cast few more spells and make the playful break even more enjoyable.

At two o’clock it was time to continue the class.

That Friday was a special day; a cherry blossom tree planting day, which Louise was gifted by her former staff members. We were all participating in decision making process, walked around the grounds to find the best spot for the cherry blossom tree.  Decision was made mutually, we all had a say and everybody was happy with the final choice.

This tree was planted with much love and respect; it will grow strong and one day it will offer its branches so we can humbly climb up again and see what a wonderful world it can be.

Thank you Small School! You may be Small by Size but you are surely great by Heart.

We couldn’t leave without saying hello and goodbye to the vast, blue Atlantic Ocean, soaking in the sun, filled with glitters as far as eyes can see!

The road took us back home along the setting sun and rising moon over the rolling hills of Dartmoor.

A good day, full of inspiration and hope!

“Schooling for Future”

Inspiration for creating this video comes from a documentary “Schooling The World” directed by Carol Black.
So far I have organized 6 successful screenings of this documentary and facilitated discussions about challenges of conventional education.
As the project evolved various new, unexpected but nice things happened. Dr. Robert Cook who worked with Helena Norberg in Ladakh came to give an introduction, I made an interview with Satish Kumar about purposeful education, went to the Small School to experience a “school of free spirit” and captured some nice footage, I’m just about to finish my postgraduate studies at Schumacher College…

The story is not yet compete and I’m looking forward to see what comes next.

Part 1:

Beginning of the Journey, Introduction of the Event ~ Dr Robert Cook and me at Kevicc High School, Devon in May 2012

Part 2:

Comments from participants, sharing their experiences of education after watching the documentary “Schooling the World”, with Satish Kumar talking about Local Culture, Nature & Education and Importance of Localization, few insights from other 3 discussions held in Slovenia, and again Satish talking about Rabindrant Tagore and Shantiniketan, about importance of learning directly from nature, engaging with nature!

Part 3:

Comments by School Children from The Small School in Hartland, Satish talking about Relationship, there should not be any differences between students and teachers – everybody has a right to share their own opinion and  express what they feel and think. Last part is about the Role of Educators ~ they should all learn how to be facilitators ~ and if they don’t understand, they should learn gardening – growing plants is a perfect example of facilitation – children are like seeds, they grow, all we need to do is provide the right environment and nutritious food!


ps… just be the change you wish to see

Iterration no.3

Third screening of Documentary “Schooling the World”,

Waldorf School, May 2012

Every film we watch, offers a unique experience. I was interested to find out more about that unique experience of individuals after watching the documentary “Schooling the World”.

Following my curiosity and weaving all together with my final project on a postgraduate course. I organized 6 iterations of “Schooling the World”. First one was at Schumacher College, Second at Kevicc High School.

Third iteration was hosted by Waldorf School in Slovenia (Celje), supported by a very kind and open minded School Principal Bostjan Strajhar. We had some initial technical problems, but with a great deal of patience we managed to get the speakers playing, watched the documentary and spent about an hour discussing about various challenges of education.

There was about 30 participants who came to the screening. Being my third screening, I have learned that I am not able to encourage everybody to verbally express their opinion and join discussion in a limited time. To give everybody a chance to share their experience I decided to create a simple written feedback form…


I would like to invite you to share your experience while watching the documentary:

1. How would you describe it as a:
–  emerging thought
– memory you may have had
– emotion that may have been triggered

2. Would you agree there is a connection between the educational system and the current economic situation? (considering many challenges we’re facing today – instability, unemployment rate, longer working hours, pollution)


3. If the answer is YES, where do YOU see the connection?

4. Have you come to any realization after watching this documentary  – something you may have forgotten?

5. How many years have you spent studying in educational institutions?

It took us about 10 – 15 minutes to complete the questionnaire.


I will share a selection of comments I find to be most interesting:

Emerging thoughts: 

  • School should support individuals, teach about life, not indoctrinate
  • How do we learn to live and let others live?
  • There is a need to go back to the nature.
  • Economic progress is not an indicator of a progressive society.
  • To impose culture of somebody else, results in destruction of your own culture.
  • To live in connection with nature is to learn about life.


  • My grandma went to school for 6 years and had more wisdom than I do with more years of education.
  • Memories when I went to school, it was much more liberal and human (in ex Yugoslavia).
  • Sitting in the classroom when I was a little child, “getting ready for life”, still at the end I didn’t know if I was ready for life or if I learned what I really want to do in my life.
  • Nice memories of childhood surrounded by mountains and nature.


  • Becoming aware how important it is to teach with love and understanding.
  • Children who go to school are getting disconnected from nature. Sadness.
  • Each of us is trying to find happiness in his/her own way. Some lead, the other follow.
  • What is freedom and what happiness? What is “West” promising, selling, trying to solve? Why is  “West” continuously spreading lies?
  • Not being able to see the complete picture – we try to help and we think we’re doing good, however what is good? Do we really know?

25 out of 26 people see the connection between educational system and current economic situation.

  • People are trying follow some “external goals” to be accepted by society.
  • It’s obvious – all is based on priorities of individuals.
  • Uniformity, indoctrination, confinement, not being able to live without technological development and products.
  • Educational system doesn’t teach us how to take care, how to live fully, how to grow food, how to take care of each other.
  • Competition on a local level – “must have as much as possible mentality”
  • Uniformed educational system creates a particular mind set, doesn’t allow to see the broad picture
  • Plenty of unemployed educated people, incapable of surviving
  • Economy and educational system have been co-developing, growing together. Educated people have a different way of being compared to those without education. People are being educated for jobs that don’t exist.
  • Materialistic attitude, importance of certain position in society, career – which is being presented as a source of happiness
  • Educational system doesn’t support free thinking. If one thinks with his/ her own mind, they are no longer good for the job, which is profit oriented . They are no longer have a need to continuously spend money.
  • The very essence of society is being changed, the values are changing.
  • Imposing particular ways of thinking, subtle encouragement towards consumerism
  • People are  being moulded into consumer oriented members of society – this is done through educational system mainly.


  • This documentary has confirmed my doubts about educational system, I’m wondering how to avoid it and change it.
  • Despite 20 years of education, I still have no ideas how to do manage things  – but I’m still leaning
  • Need to go back to the roots and learn from our ancestors
  • Nobody should interfere in other cultures with  their  “help and financial aid”
  • A need to ask ourselves – what do we want from education and educational system
  • How the colonization is still taking place – examples of US and UK influencing destinies of other nations. How they see themselves as superior and their way of doing as being better compared to others. As if they’re the best, as if they know best. It has proven not to be so.
  • People start losing connection with themselves when they’re locked within educational system – we need to find alternatives
  • It reinforced a wish to live a simple life, to be connected to nature.
  • We’ve been brain washed, I’m happy to be able to see this, but not happy to see what is happening.
  • Importance of encouraging traditional values and wisdom. Nature and land is the most important wealth to sustain humanity.
  • Crisis of value system, isolation, society becoming autistic (society losing emotional intelligence). People becoming egoistic and selfish
  • When traveling to so called “less developed” countries, I often said to myself, how lucky they are to be happy with as little as they have – and yet, so much they have, being  able to live in a beautiful, natural environment.
  •  Educational system is not tailored to match the individual. It’s trying to make everybody the same – at least trying to.
  • It gave me a clear message that we have to radically change the educational system or even abolish the term education.


Example:  8 participants spent 16 years studying in Educational Institution


Participants of discussion are fully aware of challenges and problems within Educational system. Some of the main problems are disconnection from nature, increased consumerism and production line style of Education. Such system usually leads to a uniformed way of thinking that causes monoculture and changes the fabric of Society. This causing concerns; questions about alternative ways of education have been raised; such as home schooling and Waldorf type of Education.

There are two main pillars contributing to Education of our Society – Schools and Parents; however it has been mentioned that parents no longer play a role as important as it has been in the past. The value system has changed, people are turning more towards materialism. Unhealthy competition, trying to have best grades, choosing University because it “would” bring a Job which pays more money than some other – all such attitudes and values are being promoted through the modern educational system. Goal has become more important than its purpose.

However, there are still people within the system who are doing and trying their best.

(Slovenia has been increasingly exposed to the influence of the “Industrialized, Western way of thinking” since the collapse of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1990; 22 years ago. Before 1990 Slovenia was a part of Yugoslavia, which had a self-managed economic system – mainly self-sufficient and self- sustaining)

The event was a pleasant experience and a real joy to see people engaging in meaningful discussion.





André Gravatá’s list of accomplishments makes one think he can’t be only 22
years-old. When he was 17, he got a scholarship at an English School and
started studying English. When he was 20, he sent a handwritten letter to
an elite school specialized in short courses because he wanted to know
more about Goethe, Schopenhauer and other philosophers. His life has
been like this: dreaming big and building his dreams little by little,

He is currently a journalist and happy to have published his first front
page article at a a magazine called “Vida Simples” (Simple Life) at the age
of 21. He does not hesitate to do “field work” when he wants to explore a
new subject – like when he went to the city’s most crowded avenue and
held a poster that asked: “Do you think Brazilian education should

After graduating he wanted to continue studying and decided to do an
“informal doctorate”. For that, he got the support of some of Brazil’s top
professors who are now tutoring him throughout this experience.
In 2011 he was the organizer of a TEDx event about “microrevolutions”
and in 2012 he won a sponsorship from TED to go to Doha for a TEDxer’s
event, along with other 800 people from all over the world.
His involvement with education started during his teenage, when he
realized the importance of knowledge in his life. He read some books that
changed his life and took part of some unforgettable experiences, like
when he went to the Amazon in a course for young journalists. He has
been developing an educational project in a consultancy – a game for
public school students that promotes youth protagonism.





Iterration no.2

Second Screening, Kevicc High School, Totnes, May 2012

Iteration process  2

The second screening took place at Areal Cinema Theater, at Kevicc High School in Totnes. The event organization was supported by Earth Inheritors, a group of young inspiring students from Kevicc High School.

Approximately 40 people attended the screening, ranging from college students to adults in their late sixties. The event was introduced by doctor Robert Cook from University of Plymouth. Dr Cook worked on his research in Ladakh, together with Helena Norberg Hodge and later on for SECMOL (The Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh). Dr Cook was looking at the cultural changes in connection to sustainability and education.

More on SECMOL: http://www.secmol.org

After watching the documentary we invited participants to express their experience through art and drawing. This time was used for self reflection, before engaging in group discussion.

Following issues were raised during our discussion:

  • Importance of localization
  • Negative impact of standardized educational system
  • Negative impacts of excessive, unsustainable form of globalization
  • Importance of knowing one’s own cultural identity and background


  • How to identify a good teacher?
  • What is the purpose of education?
  • Are we educating people for jobs or to help them recognizing who they are?
  • How to educate for the place you live in – educating for the ecosystem?
  • What are the signs of indoctrination within educational system?
  • How to marry traditional and modern ways of thinking – how to marry traditional culture and technology?
  • What is the appropriate size of the school and classrooms?


  • Importance of educators to develop a “midwife”  attitude.
  • Learning from successful, non conventional examples, such as SECMOL (The Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh)
  • Recognition of local characteristics, learning from the local environment
  • Educational system should first and foremost be the space of self discovery through freedom of expression, with individuals being supported on their journey.

The event was successful, very much appreciated by the participants and very insightful.

Schooling for Future is a documentary on education I’m working on. I will be adding the second part by the Mid October.






I have chosen to create “Schooling for Future” as a part of my final project on a postgraduate program I’m currently finishing. This project came out as a result of 6 successful screenings of documentary “Schooling the World” (directed by Carol Black) and discussions among participants, which were held after watching the film.

The work you are about to see is a first part of a documentary about purposeful education. The second part will be completed by the Mid October.

Through the process of my academic research I was aiming to find the connection between thoughts of radicals thinkers in the realm of purposeful education such as: Rabindranath Tagore, Maria Montesori, Krishnamurti, Ivan Illich, John Dewey, Bertrand Russell, Sir Ken Robinson, Alan Watts, Nikhil Goyal, Noam Chomsky, Paolo Freire, Gregory Cajete, Allan R. Wallance, Rudolf Steiner, Satish Kumar

and between the thoughts of participants who came to the screening of the documentary “Schooling the World”.

Main reason for choosing “Schooling the World” as a foundation for my research are the challenges that educational system represents for society today. Stories in this documentary point out to those challenges in a very clear, somehow provocative, but engaging way.

Challenges I am referring to:

– current educational system is not encouraging individuals to learn directly from our greatest teacher – the nature itself;
– current educational system is not encouraging creativity and freedom of expression;
– current educational system is not fully supporting individuals to discover and develop their own potentials;
– current educational system is becoming increasingly standardization across the world
– educational system is being used to support global economy, for the price of one’s own unique cultural identity and value system;
– current educational system is result driven and lacks the important recognition of process focused education.
These are few thoughts I was interested to look into and to find out how and if they were seen by some of the greatest thinkers as far as 100 years ago. I also wanted to find out what members of society think today.

I have also been asking myself a question, how to support those great noble thoughts to become more wide spread. I discovered that most of participants who engaged in discussion after the screenings share those same thoughts. Thoughts, which can lead towards creation of a more sustainable education and have a positive impact on society and life on Earth.

Hopefully I can make a humble contribution with the composition I am sharing with you here.

I am very grateful to Satish Kumar for his words of heartfelt wisdom, to dr. Robert Cook for sharing his experience in Ladakh and to everybody who joined this unique “Journey of Exploration through the Process of Education”.

Thank you for being the change you wish to see in this world!

Soil, Soul and Society – Food Localization

An Interview with Jeremy Weiss; Earth Steward at VelWell Orchard.

VelWell Orchard is a 1.7 acre bio-dynamic smallholding, with links to the local community and Steiner school, near Dartington. It was established by Derek Lapworth in 1993. Jeremy Weiss started coming to the Orchard once a week every Saturday, earning his pocket money when he was 14.

He studied Environmental Science at University of Plymouth. At the end of 2008 when Derek retired, Jeremy decided to take over the Orchard. During the first three years he was trying to run it as a commercial garden. In December 2011 he followed his aspiration and gave VelWell Orchard a whole new vision.

Autumn harvest celebration at VelWell Orchard, Photo: Adrian Antrum

Brigita:  “You’ve been coming to the Orchard since you were 14. You were also educated at Steiner school, does this have anything to do with the values you have and choices you have made in your life?”

Jeremy: “Steiner school gives a very balanced education. Apart from the academic side, they also support a creative way of learning. They teach you well how to learn. When I went to university I was quite far back with sciences, but because I knew how to learn, I picked up faster.

School should be on the farms or in the woods, rather than in the building, surrounded with concrete. There is a lot more to be learned in the natural world.

As you heard from Derek earlier on, I started coming to the orchard once a week when I was 14. I was working here full time during summer holidays when it was busy. At the end of 2008 Derek retired and I decided to take over. At that point I had just finished University; I was living up here and working next door at the farm. It was quite a big commitment, but it felt right thing to do.”

Watering tomatoes and carefully planted “pees”, Photo: Brigita


Brigita: “You were studying Environmental Sciences. The knowledge you have learned, does it support the work you do today?”

Jeremy: “I have quite strong opinions about Universities. I don’t think it’s the best way to learn. Most subjects are best learned in other ways. Thinking in retrospect, if I had spent 3 years traveling and working on farms, WWOOF-ing, I would learn a lot more, for what I am doing here. I think the university is not a particularly efficient way of learning.

For me personally the biggest thing I got out of the university was not only what we learned in the classroom. It was learning about social conditions in which most people are being educated. I was a bit alienated from that, because I went to Steiner school. Being at university I could experience various people coming from other systems of education and compare it. Living in a city for 3 years was a big experience for me.”

Brigita: “Reading the VelWell Orchard Newsletter I came across the story of Anastasia, written by Vladimir Megre. The books talks about the importance of connection with the land and how every family should be given 2.5 acres of a land.”

Jeremy: “I think this idea is absolutely essential for everybody to have that access. Anastasia describes it in a most accurate way and I recommend reading her books.

Anastasia was one of the biggest inspirations behind a decision I made last year when moving from commercial garden to what it is today.

The whole transition seemed as a logical step.

When taking over from Derek, three and a half years ago, I first wanted to make this land into a commercial enterprise and show that I can make a living from the land on a small scale, without using big machines, by a simple way of living. I tried for 3 years but it didn’t work. It wasn’t realistic.”

We love you Bertie, Photo: Brigita


Brigita: “Why not?”

Jeremy: “The whole system of money is seriously distorted; a lot of it by subsidies and benefits that distort the true price of things.

Often the price that you pay for something, particularly for a liter of diesel, is not reflected in the damage caused by using it, which is then paid for by the tax payers in clear up costs. Future generations will also have to clear up the mess we are making.

This is the general problem with why it is so difficult to make money from growing food on a small scale.

Actually, the real reason, why I decided not to sell the produce anymore goes deeper than that.

Taking over from Derek, he used to have volunteers coming over here. Over the period of last 3 years more and more people would come along. On Wednesdays, we had people from the age of 0 up to Robert who is 75, coming along, helping out and enjoying it. They were putting the purest form of energy into growing the vegetables, which is love.

Happy times, Photo: Brigita

When food is grown with that energy, with love, versus fossil fuel energy that has been imported from a country that is fighting wars, it completely changes the story.

In my opinion the food grown out of love has a potential to feed people in a completely different way.

When I was taking that food and selling it in a shop it felt really wrong. Firstly, it wasn’t really my food to sell, because of all the effort that went in from other people.

Secondly it was impossible to define the price. I had to charge the market price, which didn’t cover the costs of running the project and supporting me. If I had charged a higher price, I might have been able to make a living, but people wouldn’t pay for it, they wouldn’t have bought a produce.

Steiner suggests that the farmer should work out the price of each thing that he sells, based on how much it costs to produce it. And that’s how much he should charge.

When I sat down, trying to work that out it was impossible. Particularly when you have 20 volunteers who come every Wednesday and put their love into it.

How much is that worth? It is not worth financial money. The conundrum was – that this tomato is worth nothing in the shop because people are not willing to pay anything for it. On the other hand it’s completely and utterly priceless to the people who are actually involved in growing it. It is irreplaceable; if this is the case how can you sell it?

Now this has changed, I have given it away and the whole feeling has changed, because food is being grown purely out of love of growing it and not because people need to make money out of it.”

Brigita: “So, people who come to the orchard, to help out, they receive the produce on a completely different basis. I can see this changes the relationship we have with our food. If I compare it to the shop where we buy the food, we don’t have that relationship and we don’t necessarily know where it comes from and how it was grown.

Jeremy: “The food you grow out of love feeds you in a completely different way; after being involved in sowing it, planting it, looking after it, harvesting it and finally eating it. You also know that all the other happy faces around you have done this with love.”


Lucky Horse Shoe, Photo: Brigita


Comment: We planted a few trees this morning; a Sichuan pepper tree, 2 olive trees, a honeysuckle that Emily generously donated to VelWell Orchard. Kelsey even found a lucky horse shoe while digging out the whole to plant a service-berry (Amelanchier Canadensis).

Brigita: “Jeremy, you mentioned you would like to make one part of this land into a forest garden.”

Jeremy: “I would like to have a good diversity here. Forest garden is an experiment. It is also probably the best way of growing food, because it mimics what happens in nature.

If you left your garden alone, for the next 20 or 30 years and came back, all of the areas where you had your vegetables would become unrecognizable. The area would be colonized mostly by native plants. Trees that were planted by birds and squirrels would be growing all around; the place would become a young woodland. This would be a natural situation for this climate and this kind of terrain and soil type.

The further we go away from that perfect, natural system, the more work we have to put in to maintain it.

If you cut down the trees, you have to keep the grass short by cutting it or grazing it, so the trees don’t grow back. Otherwise it will go back to woodland.

If you go another level away from the grazed land, you need to plough the field to plant vegetables and stuff.

Each step further away from the natural system requires more energy.

If we mimic the natural situation i.e. woodland, there is less work and less energy involved in growing the food.”


Brigita: “How do you see yourself going forwards with VelWell Orchard?”

Jeremy: “I guess the land evolves on its own, to some degree. This has happened over the last 3 years. I have followed where it has wanted to go. At the beginning I wanted to make a commercial garden, but that was not what it wanted to be.

I feel like I am in an on-going conversation with the land about what it wants to be.

For example, this soil is not very suited for growing large quantities of vegetables; it is not fertile enough, so I am planting lots of trees.

Going back to Anastasia – it’s about having a domain, a place to bring up your family, having children and passing it on to them.

It is similar to VelWell – but here, the children are all who come to help; it’s a domain for the VelWell Orchard family. It’s a place people can relate to.

I had a young boy who came to work with me because he wasn’t doing very well in school. He remembered coming up here when he was in kinder garden. He came up again when he was 14, so he had a connection to the place. I think it is very important for people to have that connection. Ideally everybody should have a connection to a piece of land, they can belong to.

But for those who don’t have that, at the moment, VelWell Orchard is perhaps the nearest they have to that on a communal level.”

Kelsey: “What about people who are brought up in cities? There are more and more people living in urban areas. How can people in the cities have a connection to the land?”

Jeremy: “This is probably the most important question. Most people live in the cities and I think this connection is absolutely vital. So much that I’ve almost considered passing on this project on to other people and going to do that instead. Cities could become absolutely amazing.

Cities have so much energy in one place, but the energy is mainly used in one way; for fighting and conflicts. Cities have great opportunities for growing food. It is possible and it is happening all over the world. You can grow vegetables on your window sill, you can have a hanging basket, if you have a little terrace, take off concrete and paving slaps, you can use vertical spaces to grow peas and beans and grapes and you can train fruit trees against walls. There are all the roof spaces; there are massive park spaces that are being under used, where we could plant fruit trees and nut trees.

Cities could become amazing, full of food – it just takes few people to start. If you have a small garden, open it up, pull out all the concrete and artificial stuff and even on a few square meters you can grow a lot of food. It only takes one person to start and the effect ripples out. People become inspired by it and want to do the same.

We all have attraction towards beauty and there is nothing more beautiful than nature. Human beings can’t make anything more beautiful than already exists in the nature.

Well, we do try, with our sleek I-phones and stuff.”

Kelsey: “It makes me think of bio mimicry.”

Jeremy: “Exactly, things are going full circle. People are trying to imitate nature.

100% water proof, Photo: Brigita

Just this morning I was picking up purple sprouting and it’s lashing with rain and the water is soaking through my coat because it’s made out of a man-made fabric that just comes nothing near to the efficiency of nature.  And I’m picking the purple sprouts and broccoli, and the water is running off the leaf and it’s absolutely 100% water proof and it’s just incredible.

We don’t have the technology, despite how clever we think we are, to produce something as efficient or as beautiful as what already exists in nature. And they reproduce themselves.”

Brigita: “If people are interested to come and volunteer in the Orchard, when is the best time to come?”

Jeremy: “The volunteers are welcome to come on Wednesday mornings at the moment; we may go to 2 days a week at some point. Sometimes we have WWOOF-ers as well, but not at the moment, because I’m having to do some work to earn some extra money.

I am striving to make this place as close to an ideal situation as possible. I’m trying to create a system that is independent, not reliant on external inputs of energy, money, materials. I would like to create a model, which could be done by other people as well.

At the moment there are people coming from far away. In a way it defeats the purpose when people are driving from miles away.
There are a lot of community gardens starting up, so people can help and start growing their own vegetables closer to where they live.”

Brigita: “You mentioned you would like this model to spread? What exactly is the “model”?”

Jeremy: “The model isn’t so much a physical model. It has to do with the way it operates with the people. It’s more a social model.

The way it works – all the fruit and vegetables and nuts and produce is free to whoever wants it and people are then free to give what they can give in return for it, or at least to give what they can to support the project.

Of course the project needs time, energy, money, support, materials. But people are free to give in return what they want. This is the model I applied in December 2011.

If we go back to what I was saying about the woodland; if you want to have a field you have to treat it like a field. You have to graze it. If you want to have woodland you have to treat it like woodland, not let it be grazed.

You don’t really have to go out and plant trees. If you leave it, fence it so that animals can’t go in, it will happen on its own. You can speed up the process and choose what you want to grow.

The same is with people in my opinion. Depending on how you treat them, is how they behave. If you treat them like human beings, they will behave like human beings. Because often people are being treated like robots, they behave like robots.

When you say to someone: “you have to pay me 50p for that tomato!”

The first thing that comes into their mind is: “I want it cheaper”. They want to pay as little as possible to get as much in return.

If you say to someone, that tomato, you can have it, I give it to you, everybody is growing it together and we are happy to give it to you. Instantly that person will want to give you something in return.

This is what being human is about. It’s what people like to do. Think about Christmas. People like giving.  But the system of money we have doesn’t allow for it.

It says “I want this”.

I’m trying to say there needs to be other way around. It needs to be unconditional giving.

“Have this, it’s yours.” If someone wants to give something in return, they can, if they can’t; it’s ok. Maybe they will in few years to come, to maybe someone else.

You have to treat people like human beings, otherwise how do you expect them to behave like human beings. If you want someone’s respect you first have to respect them.”

Brigita: “Is there a link between Transition Town Totnes (TTT) and VelWell Orchard?”

Jeremy: “I am not directly connected to TTT, because I haven’t found enough time to get involved. I think values of TTT are really good, but I prefer spending time here, growing vegetables, working in the orchard. I don’t really like to go out and change the world. I rather change it around here, locally.

I rather make this garden a corner of heaven, where people can come to help and have some sort of experience that makes an impression on them. That way, they may go out in their life and the idea ripples out further.”

Until next week! Photo: Brigita

Comment: The ripples are felt much further. Hannah has been coming to VelWell Orchard for over 3 years. Her words resonate with the experience of many, including Kelsey and myself.

“I came to VelWell by accident, offering help for nothing in return, other than the opportunity to learn about growing food and just finding a beautiful place to ‘be’. Jeremy insisted that this learning wasn’t from him, it was from VelWell, it was from nature itself – he taught me that he doesn’t grow food, nature grows food, and that he doesn’t own nature, that nature gifts itself and we have to understand our role within this process. These are the foundations I have carried with me since.” Hannah Claxton


To receive VelWell Orchard Newsletter and receive more information, please contact Jeremy Weiss;

tel: 07 962 432 317

or email: jeremydweiss@yahoo.co.uk