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Jez's Notebook | The Good Life Project Archive

It’s Okay for It To Not Be Okay

When the sparrow was deftly plucked from the bird feeder at great speed and then eaten by the sparrow hawk, I was stunned. I stood and watched the whole thing unfold and as I looked on, filled with an equal sense of awe and fascination and sadness and disgust, contemplating whether I was in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time.

Can you spot the pesky woodpecker eating nuts, not bees.

When we first moved to the farm we didn’t really see many birds, nor hear them either. There was the punctual barn owl that takes its hunting flight at seven o’clock each evening and the occasional blackbird, robin or sparrow flitting about in the hedges. After we installed

Reflecting on Depression, Sticks and Stones, and Purpose

You’re not supposed to talk about things that make you look less successful, or less happy in my industry: it’s all success, strategy, positivity and, frankly, a lot of rubbish.

So, today, I’m going to tell you – honestly – that I’ve felt my depression creeping up on me again for a while; trying to suppress it’s grip.

There will, I hope, by many reading this who because of their chosen profession, or through peer pressure, or through self-pressure, feel the need to put a mask on. When that mask begins to eat at your face it can be especially challenging because despite the general positively growing trend towards understanding and supporting mental health, the reality is that we’re still scared of it. We still don’t know what to say and we’re still running away from it.

We’re not supposed to pull away the iron curtain and expose that we’re human. The impact of centuries of locking people away, turning a blind eye and thinning out society of those who show signs of struggle still runs deep. We seem to like the idea of being mental health aware and sympathetic and conscious – we talk the talk – but it’s not supposed to happen to us. I’ve written about my depression in Flip the Switch but largely it’s a very private battle. Until now.

Honey – what’s in a name?

What is an acceptable amount of money to pay for a jar of honey?

The price of British honey is set to rise.

Brexit? European economics? Greed? Perhaps none of the obvious are to blame but without a greater public understanding of just how much goes into getting honey to your table, I fear honey may well go the same way as milk.

I grew up right next to a bovine farm and have met many dairy farmers in my time; they all have the same story to tell. It’s one of long hours, hard work and a

Is It Too Obvious? The Sentient Solution

The start of the vegetable season can’t come soon enough for me – an opportunity to get outside and plant, in this case, peas. Even if it means wrapping up in loads of layers but on a dry day that’s balanced by the natural daylight, fresh air and contact with nature.

Regular readers will know that I’m a big fan of the BBC show Gardener’s World – in fact, it’s the only reason we maintain a TV licence and every year when the licence renewal is up, I consider not renewing as Mrs Jez and I hardly watch any television, unless friends or colleagues are on. Every year I’m reminded of that Victoria Wood gag where she explains that the television license inspector came knocking on her door: “we’ve reason to believe you’re watching television without a licence and are fined £100”, to which Wood explains that she’s only watching Gardener’s World, to which the inspector replies: “oh, ok, call it fifty”.

Last year I remember watching our friend Adam Frost visit some community projects that were using gardening as a mechanism to bring communities together and to offer what was essentially distraction therapy for those who had suffered all sorts of different life traumas. Refugees who had been forced out of their country, witnessing (and in one case personally subjected to) rape, famine and destruction in the process. Children with learning difficulties and special educational needs who felt that they didn’t quite fit in; the recipients of bullying behaviour and feeling confused. Different nationalities; religions; social backgrounds and here they all were, together – gardening. Growing vegetables, flowers, herbs, fruit – together. No prejudice and in some cases not even a common language among them, however, despite the social, economic, psychological and behavioural extremes, Frost began to unpick their stories, revealing to us, the emotionally overwhelmed viewers, that here was nature, healing.

Some of these individuals had been to the most darkest places in their minds and souls: they had witnessed and been subjected to some of the most horrific examples of behaviour our species can exhibit. But with their hands in soil; preparing and nurturing new life in the form of plants and in turn enjoying the culinary benefits of their labour, there was solace.

If nature can help to heal and provide efficacious restorative opportunities for human health, wellbeing and behaviour when we are at our lowest and despite the most extreme of circumstances – just imagine what contact with nature could do for those of us fortunate enough to not be in those positions?

Gardening activities are, for me, the most obvious

Tales from the Farm – The Hungry Hungry Caterpillars

Through no one’s fault but my own, we’re battling an infestation of caterpillars and white fly in our brassica bed. I HATE caterpillars.

“TV’s favourite gardener”, Monty Don, inspires Jez Rose, a frustrated behaviourist and amateur gardener, to grow a new life, as detailed in Tales from the Farm. Monty Don’s book inspired Jez to buy a farm in the countryside, create his own garden and write about the joy, obsession and mud.

If you’ve been following this blog and our journey, you’ll know that Mrs Jez and I applied to the Soil Association to licence our farm as organic. We’re currently in the “conversion” process, which means we document our planting, growing and management activities and have inspections to ensure that we’re upholding organic farming principles – essentially not putting any nasties into the ground like pesticides, fungicides etc.

We’ve found the whole process quite cathartic and learnt so much over the past 6 months, not just about organic gardening and farming but about food, soil, the ecosystem and just how critical it is for us to be aware of where our food comes from and exactly what we’re putting into our bodies.

We’ve been happily plodding along and enjoying the steep learning curve (having never grown anything before, let alone organically). Until this past weekend when

Supercharging Your CSR

TOP 10 TIPS FOR SUPERCHARGING YOUR CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Simple, thoughtful planting benefits your local environment, employee wellbeing and brand awareness, too.

Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, is al the rage. It has been for a while but for too many organisations it’s simply lip service. That’s not necessarily a big problem but it is a really wasted opportunity to make your brand stand out, enliven your organisational culture and benefit from strong altruistic action. Just last week I was asked to share my top tips for CSR, so here are my Top 10 Tips to Supercharge your Corporate Social Responsibility whilst helping make the world a better place, too…

1. Aim to engage

Listen to the Bees – Work In Silos!

Honeybee hives can teach organisations a lot about efficient and efficacious models of teamwork.

You may – or may not – know that Mrs Jez and I are beekeepers

As we launch the nationwide expansion of Bees for Business, I’ve written this short article on what observing the honeybee teaches about working more effectively, communicating better and more efficient teamwork in your organisation.

During the peak, summer season the average honeybee hive can

Taking Meetings Back to Nature

More photos and full details can be found at www.hirethebarn.com

Business training is going back to nature with a new breed of courses aimed at stimulating delegates through a more natural take on the traditional conference set-up.

Chicken Training for Managers and Bee Keeping Team Building are just a couple of the courses – still teaching innovative, business-relevant, professional skills – offered by Behaviourist and conference speaker Jez Rose, who launched the project after 13 years of speaking at conferences around the world where delegates often struggled to concentrate in uninspiring conditions.

Tales from the Farm – Bees…in the roof

I love bees even more when they are in the right place

I love bees. That’s why we keep them here at the farm. Well,  I say “keep”, but in reality we’re simply guardians of the bees – they are wild animals and we simply provide housing benefit. However, I don’t love the fact that bees (not ours, I might add), have decided to take up residence in our roof.

Some weeks it does seem like this farm is testing the very limits of human capabilities. This week has been one of those.

After we discovered that our bore hole head was leaking (which is in itself an understatement – thousands of gallons of water are pouring out of a crack in it, which we now are in the midst of arranging to

Going Organic! What Organic Means 4 Months On

Behaviourist and broadcaster, Jez Rose, blogs about the process of achieving Soil Association Organic Certification for his Cambridgeshire farm and home to The Good Life Project.

Newly planted apple trees burst into life this Spring.

It’s hard to believe that its been almost 4 months since the inspector from the Soil Association visited us to make his initial inspection and help guide us to achieving certified organic status. So much has happened in that time that it seems so much longer – I had to check the date twice and rummage in my paperwork to find the confirmation letter as I didn’t trust the calendar!

We’ve made so much progress with the development of the farm that I’m sure Mike (the inspector) wouldn’t recognise the place – when he visited the site was technically a building site.

But it’s not just about our progress, having started with a bare patch of land, the impact of Spring was remarkable on the large bare patches of grass and soil. The blank, baron raised beds are now full of life, bursting with potato crops, shallots and garlic, peas, clover, cucumber, tomatoes, parsnips, lettuce, kale, asparagus and the fruits have suddenly sprung into action: strawberries, raspberry, blackberry, tayberry and apples – from bare roots, crowns, plugs and tiny seeds, we’re enjoying every day the beauty and magnitude of nature.

In the short time since we began this journey, I’ve converted