Manna is a unique setting, offering both farming and horticultural activities, alongside creative workshops and skills learning. It is a place of enjoyable occupation as well as being a sanctuary for those who need space to recover. As the year progresses there are all manner of activities depending on the season. Spring brings lambing and plenty of planting, and a time where there is hope in the air and a hive of busyness. Our bee colonies need care and attention and encouragement not to swarm. Summer is a joy on the land as colour and produce are in abundance, but with that plenty of horticultural activities to keep us occupied. Autumn is a season to enjoy the fruits of our labours, with cooking over a fire pit in the woods, soaking up the embers of the summer, or learning a new creative skill. Finally the Winter offers moments to stop and reflect over a steaming coffee, consider what went well this year, (and what not to repeat), while the ewes start growing new lambs for next year.
The Kitchen garden
Our kitchen garden is a work in progress (aren’t they all) that is, we are creating the garden from an acre of uncared for overgrown land. So there is still plenty to do! In the past few years, we have successfully planted hundreds of edible hedgerow trees, produced fruit and veg for the past 2 years, and last year planted what we hope to be a beautiful espalier tree formation around the perimeter. We are soon to embark upon a project creating wheelchair accessible raised beds which will provide opportunities for people with limited mobility. We also had a very informal farm stall this year, selling off excess plants which will pave the way for more farm gate sales in the years to come.
We have a small flock of Jacob sheep which is a rare breed of sheep, who are well used to humans and as such are happy to be handled and a friendly bunch. They produce lambs in the spring and give much pleasure to us all. We also have 2 bee hives, and are fairly new to the craft ourselves, so learning more as each year passes. In time we would like to gather poultry, including chickens, ducks, and possibly some guinea fowl if we can cope with their noise!
We have about an acre of rambling woods with a river that runs through it. It is a place of peace for those who seek it, as well as exciting activity for children and youth. There are opportunities for wood management skills as they have been untouched for many years. We also engage in bushcraft activities, particularly with groups of children and families. The river is reasonably fast flowing, which means that in the summer the water is still high enough for canoeing for the adventurous, or fishing for those who want a slightly more restful activity. Indeed, we have sampled fish from the river and they are very tasty!
The Project Managers at Manna are both creative people who value these activities as a form of both relaxation and healing. As a Product Designer James has a host of skills to share, often involving woodwork and carpentry, both on a small or large scale, depending on the presenting need or opportunity. Bethany loves all things creative, and studied Art prior to going into Social Work, so our very nearly finished workshop is soon to become a hub for art and crafts such as willow weaving, candle, soap, and felt making, and regular cookery sessions – often over the firepit.