A couple of years ago my wife Ele and I approached our neighbours at Pasadena (Geoff and Carolyn) and asked them rather cheekily that if ever they were to sell up, would they just let us know as we had some vague ideas…
Well, it turned out that within a few days they got back and said- ‘we’ve been thinking of downsizing soon, and if you would like to do something productive with this land that we love and have stewarded for over 30 years, we would be happy to hold it until you can work out how to purchase it from us…’
WOW! what an unexpected and delightful outcome! Here though is where the real story begins…
The original thinking here was to find some like minded people to buy the property and maybe have a few cows and a micro dairy so we could share a few resources and exchange some of our produce for milk and cheese. Nice idea eh?! Along the way however a grander and more radical idea emerged… what if we were to create a place that gave people, otherwise unable to purchase land, the opportunity to access it and make it productive? Many of the volunteers we have had through the years would have jumped at this type of opportunity.
This led us to enlist help from friends to crystallise thoughts on how this might work.
On the other side of the planet (Golden Bay, Aotearoa New Zealand) one of these friends, Jemma Knowles, was undertaking a sustainable living course which included permaculture design, green building etc. and she decided to use this developing idea for her design project. The resultant presentation coined the term ‘Heartholders’ for the people holding the vision in their hearts. It also gave us something to present to our neighbours to give them an idea of our plans.
With the vision becoming clearer we put out an advert in a couple of places (permaculture association, Land Workers Alliance) to invite people to invest some of their time, energy and/or money into the project.
From this a small group with fantastic enthusiasm and an amazing set of skills was formed (which still astounds me!).
This group then engaged together in a process called dragon dreaming which helped us all to create a shared vision of the best version of what the land could offer. This vision has been held in the hearts of those of us working on it from that moment onwards and this group became known as the ‘heartholders’. We have met regularly throughout the last year on video calls to explore things further and much of the groundwork and processes needed to move things forward have been achieved in this time.
Some of the main elements that have evolved through this process are innovative and unique; giving the land itself a voice within the legal structure, making decisions with the ‘children’s fire’ in mind, writing the specifics about the ways in which we work together so we don’t default to ways which do not actually work, adopting sociocracy as a meeting, decision and organisational structure, how we value and use feedback- these are all foundations we have been working on and the reason why many of us are still engaged with and even still enjoy our regular meetings.
Tregovenek is now a registered Community Benefit Society and as I write this some of us are creating a business plan and financial forecasts, others are exploring how to engage the community, others still are crystallising the Ways of Working systems. One thing we all share is our excitement to be on this journey together.
In this coming year (2022) we hope to purchase the land (some of the money will be raised through community owned shares) and be able to start the next phase of physically turning this land into the dream and vision we hold in our hearts.
If you are interested in joining us on any part of this journey please contact us to discuss how best you could share your unique skills.