What inspired you?
We had always been environmentally-minded by doing the usual recycling that gets collected from your front door every week or so. We bought our clothes from charity shops and loved how easy and fulfilling it was to revamp our home using furniture from Freecycle.
Our inspiration though to take this even further was after watching a programme by Jamie Oliver on the welfare of commercial chickens, and what our children were really eating. It started us questioning where our food came from, and where our waste went. We began to think even more about what we could do to reduce our impact on the world and help others to do the same.
We took on an allotment to grow our own, more nutritious food, and we joined our local Transition Town group as steering group members. During this time we discovered Permaculture and there was no going back. We planned that, once our children had left home, we would buy some land and run a smallholding. This became a reality when we bought a small woodland allowing us to put into practice the Permaculture theory we had been studying.
What are your aims?
We want to live by the ethics of Permaculture: Taking responsibility for our own lives, by taking care of Earth, taking care of people, and being aware of our use of resources with a view to future generations.
We aim to encourage others to do similarly, not just by embodying the ethics ourselves, but also by demonstrating the principles and methods of Permaculture, and delivering education on how we can live regeneratively, to become more connected to the natural world, and to each other.
By harnessing these connections, we aim to build community, on a local level, but also on a broader scale using Social Media to establish links with like-minded folk.
We want to build ourselves a right livelihood - meeting our needs by doing something ethical and productive, which we enjoy doing, and to put our surplus into building a Permaculture economy.
We aim to live with the land; to enhance and build our connection with nature, and become indigenous to our own land.
We want to "be the change that we want to see in the world".
What plans for the future?
We plan to keep "stretching our edges" - pushing our boundaries and learning new things as we move forward on our journey to a more ethical, productive way of life, while not beating ourselves up when we choose to make compromises.
To do this we need to be present; to be actively participating in life, so we will keep taking new steps each day towards fulfilling our goals.
We are making plans for our project, and designing how we progress, but we want this also to be an organic process by observing life's patterns, and capturing energy when it becomes available to us.
An example of how we are putting this into action is The Edge - our Community Hub & Shop in Hatherleigh - this became available to us after volunteering in the Ruby Way Visitor Centre. We will be opening The Edge on International Permaculture Day, 1st May, as an outlet for local small ethical businesses, and a base for our own Education and Edible Garden Design businesses.
We are both working on our Diploma in Applied Permaculture, and progressing on our path for our own site to become a full LAND Centre. LAND stands for Learning And Network Demonstration. This means we are using the ethics, principles and methods of Permaculture to become accredited by the Permaculture Association as an approved demonstration site.
In the meantime, we have lined up a number of courses and workshops over the coming months, and will be at the Wildheart Gathering festival on Dartmoor, 12- 14th August. For more information on our courses and community hub please go to our website northdevonpermaculture.com. Wendy and Iain are two of the best human beings I've ever encountered. They're fun to be with, knowledgeable, hard-working, and live by a strong set of personal values. I've also been able to see the positive effect they have on other people who visit them on their woodland. Their crowdfunder was an opportunity for me to support them in a more direct way, which I couldn't pass up. I'm really honoured and excited to be able to experience a small part of their transition with them. I wish I could visit them more often.
by Matt Coston - Crowdfunder Supporter
My initial impressions of Wishtree Wood were at first quite charming and pleasant. We sat on a sunny morning and had tea in the middle of a field surrounded by woods. Wenderlynn and Iain are lovely people and are as committed to Permaculture as a tree is to the ground. We walked around and I took notes frantically as they showed me around their forest garden. On all appearances, its living the dream of Permaculture and is really quite exciting.
It was only on my second visit when I got another chance to have a good look around and really understand what was happening that I realized how significant their way of life is. These two people have really given up most if not all modern comforts to become sustainable and connected to the land in which they live. I have the deepest and most profound respect for what they are doing and to be honest, a few weeks after visiting their site and seeing how they were living, I was a little bit shaken. Not shaken in a negative way, but shaken in a way that challenges you to question your own courage and limits as a human being. Could I give up my creature comforts for sustainability? Could I spend the cold and wet winter without running water or a flushing toilet? If more people in the world were willing to take these kinds of steps, and to work with the difficulty of living sustainably, I have no doubt that we would be able to solve our environmental problems as a species.
I would encourage anybody who would like to visit Wish Tree Forest to go without any expectations and to be open to a new kind of experience. Wenderlynn and Ian certainly have an interesting sense of humour and have clearly demonstrated that living sustainably is not about austerity or hardcore renunciation, it's a simple yet profoundly difficult change of attitude. With more and more support, I have no doubt that the paradise they have already created will be multiplied 1000 fold.
by Keegan Blazey - friend and volunteer
I had read loads of books on forest gardening and creating edible gardens but I felt I needed to experience it and work directly with the soil and plants. I decided volunteering would be the best way to really understand how to become more self-reliant and create a more sustainable way of life for my family. I had found out about the Wishtree Woods project online. When I first met Wenderlynn and Iain at Wishtree Woods it was like stepping into a parallel world of wonder and fun. I have been going one day a week for 6 months now and through the experience I can truly say I have gained so much more than I had ever hoped.
They willingly shared their world, without judgement of how much or little you might know about gardening, permaculture or environmental practices. They allow you to observe and connect with nature in your own time. They have such reverence and joy for experiencing and learning from nature that you can’t help seeing it too. There is also space to be contemplative and quiet or social and energetic in their bountiful 5 acre site.
Its great for exercise and there is always new skills to learn, stimulating discussions, laughter and fun. I have learnt to do things that I would have previously dismissed as too big a project for me to undertake. Like pruning trees, moving plants, designing garden spaces, hedgelaying, caring for ducks and chickens, putting up fences, digging ponds and ditches, and foraging.
They truly live by the principles and ethos of permaculture and welcome anyone curious about what permaculture has to offer. Permaculture influences the way you garden and it influences the choices you make about the impact you make to your surroundings, the environment, choices for your health, your spirit and in your relationships. Their patience and passion for their way of life is admirable and infectious.
Not only do you learn a way to garden that replenishes the earth but you also learn how to harvest and prepare food that replenishes you. Permaculture is about making the best of what you have by helping nature do what it does best, if you do nature does the work for you all seasons, year in and out which such variety and spender. I love my time with Wenderlynn and Iain as it reassures me there is such a thing as community and hope for the future in the common sense of practicing permaculture.
by Elizabeth Durrant - friend and volunteer