Anna with her Elm mallet
experience of making a peg
Laine has a go at stripping
Have you ever
wondered about Orchard Barn?
did. I saw the signs on the
side of the road, occasionally saw adverts for courses in making things
out of wood, clay and straw that I thought had long since stopped being
made and sometimes even encountered Orchard Barners at country events
but I never really understood what they were about until I visited
following a presentation at our local Gardening Club.
so it was still
difficult to pin down what Orchard Barn
is about. Nobody lives at
Orchard Barn. People come and work there giving their time as and
when they can. So what were they doing? Well essentially people,
from children to those a good bit older, were doing some very practical
things, sharing their skills and learning new ones to do with the ways
people used to build houses and live, making best use of their
hear a lot about the
environment these days and I like others, have come to the conclusion
that there is something distinctly unsatisfying about our throw away,
consumer dominated way of life especially if we consider what we are
leaving behind for future generations. I seem to spend my time
chasing my own tail trying to pack more and more into my day and yet
still not have the time to appreciate and enjoy much of it. I
felt that I needed an injection of New Perspective.
understanding quite what I was going to I went along to Orchard Barn
for a “Tree to Timber” day.
can tell you that I am very
glad that I did.
parked the car and
approached “The Barn”. Everything had been made by hand from the
timbers of the walls, the walls themselves and the shingles that roofed
it. I thought I had walked into Tolkien’s Hobbiton.
My overriding impression of this barn – restored by people power – and
of the one acre plot in which it sits, was its beauty. We live
with things that are generally made by machines. They have neat
and clean lines but when something is made by hand it has
character. It holds something of the character of the people that
made that thing, whether those things are buildings or a wooden spoon.
short I felt surrounded by
things that had a life to them.
addition to the barn on
its one acre plot there are workshop areas, paths, bridges, a
garden. In these spaces people come to share and learn about
making and growing things – large and small – by hand. They learn
by doing, by talking, demonstrating, swapping experiences. There are no
services on the plot - electricity, mains drainage, gas cylinders –
nothing and that is strangely refreshing because we are so used to
feeling dependent upon these services that to feel that we can actually
survive without them is strangely and wonderfully liberating.
day was a joy of meeting
people who liked solving practical problems and in working with others
could, with basic tools and their hands, make things – even houses.
These skills have a value in their own right. They are the skills
that our forebears developed and some, like thatcher’s, hurdle and
basket makers maintain. They ground us and connect us to the
earth on which we live. They make us feel more confident.
Of course we are not going to give up mains drainage or electric lights
but neither do we have to lose our connections with the natural world
in which we live. Orchard Barn feels like a portal to that balance.
if you fancy a warm
welcome and think that a bit of hands on
experience would be of
interest phone Sarah on 01473-658193 or email
Anna James 6th
Photos by Karen Temple-Nidd