Othona is a community and retreat centre which runs residential and day courses and meetings throughout the year. The first community here was founded in the 1920s by Adela Curtis, a pioneer of living with nature, living lightly and composting, and author of “In Praise of Littleness”.
More than fifty photovoltaic panels generate most of their electricity needs during the day, and they are looking at ways of storing this energy in the future. The polytunnel grows a large proportion of the salads on site, with cut-and-come-again techniques, compost and manure in raised beds and companion planting in clear evidence. A fruit cage for soft fruit and apple and plum trees are fully mature, and the community is planning further raised beds. The sewage is processed by a septic tank and two vertical-flow reed beds.
The grounds are thoughtfully managed for biodiversity and wildlife, with four types of orchid, wildflower meadows and bird boxes. Details of each year’s management – areas mown, timing of work – are recorded for future reference. Part of the grassland is protected as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest.
The Lodge dates from 1996 and was constructed in three weeks by a team of self-build trainees and trainers. It is a five bedroomed home for Core Community members, with timber frame and cladding, insulated by Warmcell recycled paper pulp.
The vision of a sustainable community with a light impact on the environment and low resource use was central to the original community on this site (1920s to 1950s). Othona was given the land and buildings in 1965; as a spiritual community rooted in the Christian heritage it embraces people of all faiths and none. A sense of our interdependence with the natural world is close to its heart.
For more information about Othona, visit their website: www.othona-bb.org.uk