The Husbandry School is set in the green rolling hills between Ashburton and Newton Abbot and is run by Carole and Jonty Williams. The Husbandry School is not an upmarket dating agency or finishing school for eligible young ladies in but draws upon the old English word hūsbōnda dating back to Saxon times, where a husband was not just a married man but bonded to a house and responsible for maintaining resources, land management and animal husbandry. Taking care of that which is within your boundaries, whether it is land, environment or the self.
Carole is has a background in special needs education and Jonty has a degree in ecology and genetics, going on to be a dairyman for many years. The Husbandry School site is a small farm and horticultural holding of 47 acres with poly tunnels, herb beds, field scale vegetables, sheep, goats, Tamworth pigs and laying hens. Devon hedge laying and stone walling are important skills that have been put to use in restoring this land in recent years.
The School itself is a therapeutic education provision for children and young people who are struggling in other education settings. The approach is all about process, with an aim to re-engage and re-inspire students around learning. The staff encourage a grounded sense of self with a curriculum designed to build confidence and self-esteem as well as developing personal resilience in a calm, safe, peaceful environment. Here all of nature is their classroom; Virgil and Columnella would have approved. If only more of this were still on the National Curriculum… There is a slow pace of work and a communal break for lunch where everyone eats together. The tuition is one to one. The children are funded by local councils and the school is registered with Devon County Council.
Carole and Jonty and their diverse team believe in starting at the grass roots level, so that people with little knowledge of agriculture can gain a secure stake in the land. Inspiring young people is only one part of the operation. They also trade and provide food for local people with their Veg Bag scheme and at the other end of the food chain they supply Ashburton Cookery school, Ashburton Deli and chefs at up market restaurants like Osip in Bruton, Emelia in Mayfair, Conduit, in Covent Garden and Portland in Fitzrovia. In addition, the school gives a wide range of public courses on rural skills such as green wood working and willow weaving.
The next development on the site is the new Seed Classroom, which they are currently Crowdfunding to build. The classroom will provide additional space for their work with children, as well as for their expanding adult programme and public courses, and is designed with children and wheelchair access in mind. They just need to secure the final stages of funding, aiming to raise £5,000 with the Crowdfunder.
If you want to help see: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ths-seed-classroom
And for more information on The Husbandry School, their produce and public courses visit: https://husbandry.co.uk/