Monday, 21 October 2013

Believe that you can do it

My good friend Carol visited me and generously brought with her bountiful vegetables and preserves all produced from her toil and hard work. She has been busy this year researching how much you can produce organically per acre, so everything has been weighed and carefully recorded. Doesn’t it look splendid?

Just to give you an idea of scale, here is a sweetheart cabbage from the supermarket on the left and the huge organic sweetheart cabbage from Carol on the right. Enough for four meals worth!

Carol is one of those inspirational people that we all need to meet and hear about, because she is the living evidence that you can do anything if you believe that you can. We first met at the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) whilst studying, and if you ever get the chance to visit CAT then I would thoroughly recommend it. For me it was life changing J Carol was also inspired by one of the course modules on green building materials, particularly building with strawbales. She decided she could do that and she did.

Now Carol’s previous occupation was as an accountant, so it was a bit of a change to jump into building houses. Her family are farmers and clearly have a very positive attitude of just getting on and doing things. Even so it took an incredible amount of time to get planning permission to build a straw bale cottage as a holiday home, on their land. Not content to just wait 2 years for the planners, Carol built the strawbale cabin above. It was built on a mobile home chassis, so was classed as a temporary building. You can see how the build progressed here. Both the cabin and the cottage are available for holidays or quiet retreats, so if you fancy a break in the Yorkshire countryside, only 20 minutes from historic York this is an ecologically friendly place to stay.

Carol has trained, advised and inspired countless others to build ecologically and using local materials such as strawbales, in addition to the valuable research she carried out on the thermal performance of strawbale buildings. Her son continues building strawbale homes for people, but Carol has now seen another urgent area where research and action is required. 
The UK is a net food importer and is currently unable to grow sufficient food to feed the population. With Peak Oil set to increase the cost of transportation and chemical fertilisers, Carol wanted to investigate how much food we can produce organically, but struggled to find anyone willing to fund this research. Undeterred she has taken it upon herself, setting aside some land and devoting her time and energy to growing a whole range of vegetables.  She has been carefully analysing the results, so her report can contribute to planning for a future with less oil, where more of the food we eat needs to be grown locally and sustainably.

If we continue with business as usual the future looks pretty bleak, so we have nothing to lose from trying something different or new. Next time you have an idea or an opportunity to do something positive, don't listen to the naysayers who tell you that you can't. Think about Carol and remember that you can do anything that you want to do, even build a house or change the future of farming, if you believe that you can J

No comments:

Post a Comment