Learning from the Land


These galleries show a range of photo sets from projects we ran over the past few years.

One of the first organisations in the west country to take sustainable building seriously was the Genesis Centre in Taunton, which at that time was ahead of its time in terms of both its own construction and its efforts to network such ideas across the country, bringing in professional bodies and the construction industry. Learning From The Land was asked to put on a continual professional development day for staff at the centre, where they could get hands-on with a range of sustainable building methods. Here you can see the team building a demonstration wall from rammed earth. It is amazing how solid soil with no treatment of added material can be simply using hard labour!{gallery}rammed_earth{/gallery}

Every June there is an openair weekend wood fair held on a farm just off the M5 on the Blackdown Hills, which are part in Devon and part in Somerset. Several thousand local people and visitors come to see the incredible range of things made from wood, craftspeople show their woodworking skills, workshops and play areas encourage particiation and a spectator ring allows for more spectacular demonstration to be viewed, from tree felling to heavy horse logging.


Learning From The Land took wood as our fuel and a small pile of clay, and built a cob oven on site with the help of some water and a lot of participants during the day. Frank Blaker was able to show how effective such materials can be, answer people's questions and inspire a few to go away and try it for themselves. {gallery}woodfair{/gallery}

We held a series of open days to celebrate the elements of water, fire and earth, with a range of activities for children and adults that enabled them to grasp some of the technologies in a hands-on way. {gallery}Power_of_fire{/gallery}

A very fine pizza can be made in an oven built from cob - clay, sand and straw mixed together. This can be hand formed into the domed shape around a solid base of fire bricks that absorb and maintain the heat needed to cook the pizza. These images show a course run for people interested in learning how to build for themselves. It was a fun day with a lot of muddy clothes and a lot of laughter. It was also much more physical than most people realised!{gallery}Cob_ovens{/gallery}

Our famous waterbottle greenhouse, is made from 1500 two-litre plastic drink bottles with the bases cut off, which are threaded onto bamboo canes and fixed into a simple timber frame. We worked with a number of schools to develop the design and adapt it to each site. Children and adults of all ages love to help build the greenhouse, which takes about a day, provided you have pre-cut the bottles! The schools then used the greenhouse to encourage children to grow their own vegetables and flowers from seeds.{gallery}waterbottle_greenhouse{/gallery}

The village of Roadwater in Somerset has a remarkable village hall; a fabulous old building that is in constant use, surrounded by open land for playing and woodland across a stream. A team of hard-working volunteers take care of it and make sure its facilities are in constant use by the village for music, parties, events, fairs, sports and even art and pizza days!


Learning From The Land was asked to take part in a sustainable play day at the hall for local children, who are being encouraged to play more outside and with natural materials. We took some indoor craft materials in case the weather was foul, some outdoor cooking equipment and a rocket stove pizza oven to try out and had a fabulous day. Local children and their families came and made their own pizzas, cooked round an open fire, and fabricated mini wind turbines out of old plastic bottles. I have a sneaking suspicion the adults liked it as much as the children...{gallery}pizza{/gallery}


Learning From the Land was approached by Bridgwater College to put on a series of wool activities as part of their Cannington Lambing Day. The aim of the day is to bring familes with young children onto the teaching farm, introduce them to live animals and land-based crafts to kindle an interest in rural skills and careers. Somerset is a mostly rural county where young people used to work on the land and often learned how to work with animals and crops at school as well as at home. Today's farming environment is very different, but there are still a lot of land-based jobs in forestry, land management, leisure and sports, as well as farming. Bridgwater College is a leader in land-based teaching and we were very excited to be part of their Lambing Day.


Learning From The Land then approached a number of highly skilled sheep owners, wool spinners and wool felters, who brought their equipment, knowledge and enthusiasm to the event. The public were allowed to have a go at the various activities and to question the makers about what they do. The response was fabulous, with a great many people participating and children and parents alike learning about wool and other natural fibres. {gallery}cannington{/gallery}