Who are we and how did we get here?
Carole and Jonty
Carole’s background is in teaching – she took a Degree in special educational needs in London. She has taught in residential special needs units focusing on behavioral management, and in nursery and primary schools, again with a strong emphasis on special needs.She has also worked as a community development leader for a district council rural art and sport project, and has twenty years of experience as a trainer and workshop leader in Devon whilst also chairing a charity promoting health and wellbeing of children through play. Above all she has both a passion and a strong ability to enable others to thrive.
Jonty’s interest began with a Degree in ecology and genetics at Lancaster University. This led, through an interest in all things to do with soil, to a five year apprenticeship in husbandry. He was taught and mentored by a countryman called Walter Edwards, who was brought up in Devon’s finest traditions of looking after the land and all things on it. Jonty went on to run a successful dairy herd for many years, and lately has taken on the task of understanding and learning about how we can renew the practices of husbandry today.
Prior to their move into the Husbandry School, Carole and Jonty together set up and ran a 40-tutor Course Centre in Arts, Crafts and Rural Skills on their farm in Devon.
Jonty and Carole also teach the husbandry courses available at the school, including Introduction to Husbandry, Foundation in Husbandry and Devon hedge laying and stone walling. Carole also teaches the felting course.
Esme started working in horticulture a few years ago, when she began an apprenticeship in market gardening in Gloucestershire. Since then she has worked at a variety of garden projects, learning about organic growing as well as training in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture for children and young people. As well as food growing, Esme loves to visit and learn from other cultures. In the last few years she has traveled to the Basque country and North India to meet other small scale farmers, volunteer on projects and learn about seed sovereignty, agricultural policy and union organisation. She has brought back to The Husbandry School exciting ideas and her passion for the land.
“Working at The Husbandry School has been a truly wonderful and eye opening experience that has taught me how we can work creatively and ecologically with the land. I feel so lucky to work somewhere that continues to inspire me!”
Sophie loves to work with and learn from others. One of her biggest passions is therapeutic activity with purpose, involving people who don’t usually have the opportunity. She enjoys getting stuck in, achieving and reflecting!
Since leaving university in Brighton, Sophie has focused on non-profit business development and communications alongside being a self-employed upholsterer and working at various care farms. Here she has taught horticulture, upholstery, printmaking and natural crafts to adults with mental health conditions or disabilities.
Her work with The Husbandry School links all elements of education with the practical husbandry skills and what they can provide socially and commercially for the enterprise. She helps to communicate the wonderful work of the farm and expand its audience to welcome more people to the world of husbandry!
Sophie also teaches a public course in upholstery here at The Husbandry School in the autumn, sharing the ancient skills that rejuvenate old furniture lovingly, appreciating traditional techniques, natural materials and ethical textiles.
Erin has worked on organic farms for several years, in Devon and Iceland. After studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security in 2018, she is happy to keep learning and growing, and working with the team at Husbandry School in order to share ideals which she finds important.
Dee has worked in horticulture for over 20 years, training for 3 years before setting up her own gardening business in Bristol, working in private gardens in every aspect from soil maintenance to planting design. Within this time she completed a 2 year professional Development Certificate in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture at Cannington Collage, which complimented her horticultural experience. Dee worked for Organic Blooms in Bristol for 10 years, which helped people with mental health problems and learning difficulties realise their worth through horticulture, and achieve city and Guilds and NVQ qualifications.
Her part time role at the Husbandry School involves growing and maintaining the decorative areas of the gardens, including the edible flowers and herbs. Combined with this she works with some of the young students who attend the school, teaching them basic hands-on horticultural skills. By the time they leave they understand many aspects of growing and caring for plants, from sowing seeds to harvesting the flowers, fruit and vegetables. What she loves about working at the Husbandry School is the supportive family atmosphere which Carole and Jonty have created for everyone involved. Dee has watched the students thrive from their time on the hill, learning a great respect for the environment and the people around them. “It can be hard work physically and mentally, but it’s extremely rewarding, and Carole makes some amazing food to keep us all going, especially the cake!”
Mark has a background in working with adults and young people with Mental Health issues, Learning Disabilities and Autism in a range of settings. These include farms, gardens, hospitals and care homes.
Having initially trained in Mechanics, he then went on to study Fine Art and then Horticulture. His horticultural work experience has been gained from working in large gardens and in the countryside, with a focus on wild life conservation, ecology, woodland management and rural skills.
Mark's experience of observing and working with people in horticulture has led him to believe that engaging in physical tasks and developing practical skills and knowledge is beneficial to our mental well-being, self-reliance and resilience.
Lizzie has lived in the South West for the past 30 years and has experience within education, hospitality, retail, ceramics and gardening. She enjoys many and varied arts and crafts, from ceramics to knitting and outdoor pursuits from sailing to long coastal walks.
She's passionate about education through outdoor, practical and creative pursuits, building confidence, inclusivity and community.
Chris joined us in 2009 to take a major role in the design and build of our beautiful hexagonal building – the heart of the Husbandry School.
Chris’s creative and practical input was invaluable in achieving the stunning space that we have today and he continues to develop The Husbandry School grounds into functional space with expanding opportunities.
Edward is a maker and doer, inspired by his surroundings and traditional craft techniques. He builds log cabins, works with anything woodland based and tans, dyes and works his own leather.
The land and how the land is managed has always been a part of his life; growing up in the heart of the countryside and being a free-range child allowed him to observe and actively be involved in the landscape. “Being part of the Husbandry School has opened my eyes to the way we approach not only land, but also the people that live within it.
Breaking down barriers in order to build friendships and understanding.
Working alongside Jonty, Carole and the team gives me great reward, knowing that the work we do today will benefit tomorrow.”
Ed also teaches a public course in 'Build a belt' leather working here at The husbandry School, sharing his love of using natural, local and sustainably sourced materials being processed in a traditional way.
Earth Skills Tutors
Vivienne Turner (Basketmaking)
Vivienne has developed many ideas with willow and recycled materials to form sculptures which have been part of the Teignmouth Art Trail. They were collaborative pieces and she was working with students from Brixham Adult and Community Learning.
For several years Vivienne has worked for Devon Artists in Schools teaching children how to create willow sculptures, making a variety of forms from David and Goliath to Harvest Spiders and Ladybirds. “It is extremely rewarding working with children they have limited boundaries with imagination and happily weave freely”.
Vivienne regularly teaches Adult Educational Classes at Totnes. They are beginners courses and range from simple fruit baskets to Christmas Decorations and Plant Supports. Many of her students over the years have developed good skills and techniques and now form a private group of improvers which she teaches once a month. In recent years Vivienne’s sculptures have been at the NEC in Birmingham. Both basket and sculpture work has been at the Chelsea Flower Show with two different exhibitors. Collaborative pieces have been displayed at Warrington Shopping Centre and the Eden Project. One of her most recent pieces stands in the grounds of Tuckenhay Mill, a willow lady depicting one of the workers around 1880.
Sean Hellman (Woodworking Skills)
Sean has been practicing, teaching and demonstrating green wood-work skills for over 20 years. Based in South Devon, he runs a business selling bespoke sculptural and traditional wooden seating, and original items for the home and garden. Sean’s passion is learning and teaching traditional wood crafts, including making wooden spoons, carved cups, bowl-turning, shrink pots, etc. He is the only professional green woodworker making and selling ‘fan birds’ in the UK.
Sean not only teaches and makes, but is an active writer and has a regular blog about woodworking, offering advice and inspiration about the joys of working green wood. He is an active member of the ‘Bodgers Forum’ the largest green woodworking forum in the world.
Some of his articles can be seen in various woodworking magazines such as Living Woods. Sean last TV appearance was on Edwardian Farm making a coracle with Alex Langlands. Sean has recently taken on a full time apprentice.
Lucy Lepchani (Creative Practitioner)
Lucy is an Adult Education tutor, creative practitioner, and life coach/therapist. These different roles are linked by love and appreciation for the stories of ordinary people’s lives, challenges and journeys, and how these comprise our diverse, collective heritage.
She is also drawn to the narratives of the sensory, sensual natural world; creating and extrapolating stories from places, events and objects and locating adventure in the everyday and the ordinary. As a creative practitioner, Lucy works with poetry, fiction, community radio, sensory arts and crafts, movement and theatre, foraging, and textiles. Her studio is at her desk or the kitchen sink or the back yard, or an opportune space in a shared creative hub, backstage, or in the limelight, or some birdsong festooned nook in the natural world.