We have launched the Heartland programme a few years ago with this idea in mind, to try and direct the glamping industry into another paradigm, the issue is that what started as eco tourism has turned into a money machine, this amazing industry have grown on the backs of small companies, small farms, and campsites, and more than all on the backs of nomads, in our view it should have created a more natural integration. and so although we have had an amazing response which comes to show that a lot of people feel the same, with over 200 projects contacting us to see how they too can become more naturally integrated, people we worked with to find different platforms and integration between peasant framing and the campsite, a lot is still lacking.
I thought it is time to write down a few guidelines seeing the whole world is put into lockdown, and hope you have time to read through.
The story is that for the last 13,000 we have been cultivating nature through domestication, we championed wheat (in other words grass), which allowed us to create surplus, we built cities with millions of people over that surplus, and we have cleared big parts of Europe in order to farm the way we do, even still we were still periodically hit by famine, because the earth could not supply our demands, in order to mitigate famine, we went and conquered new lands, to create offshore farms, and as last resort we have modified our crops in the green revolution, now the situation has become unsustainable.
It means that from the point of view of agriculture as we know it we have possibly 5 more years to keep going, in fact famine is already everywhere, it is just that we dont see it because it is mainly in third world countries.
So business as usual is our set of mind, but as we constantly clear nature we also take away the balance that keeps viruses from ourselves, in fact without wild animals and forests, without natural habitats around us we will see more and more pandemics, what is remarkable is not that it happened, the remarkable thing was that it did not happen already at such a level, yet it does so every two or three years now.
So now the whole of Europe is on lockdown, we see a lot of our clients standing to loose a years work, people can not go on holiday, and it brings up a lot of what we are trying to help people establish, the only way out of the situation in the long run, is to rewild nature, to farm in a different way, we can no longer afford agriculture, and I am afraid to say that the glamping industry must play its role.
There is a simple and natural balance, between man, animal and nature, forest and field, so now we all have to sit back, and rethink, and although I know most are just counting the days, thinking that their season will eventually start, and manufacturers are thinkin “soon we can go on again”, yet we can’t. We need to rethink, just as much as farmers need to rethink, so as we make your tents during lockdown, I hope you too can re-think.
There needs to be light in the end of this tunnel, and a clear strategy of rewilding, and sustainable tourism, with mini farming of heritage varieties is the only way forward, and maybe now that there is no longer spare time to loose, people can apply it, it can happen in each campsite, see it as a replacement for the mask you will have to wear.
One example is European bison, because every landmass had its grazers, animals that used to migrate and create ecological balance, there are amazing projects like Rewiling Europe, who are trying to implement this exact strategy, by recreating the Aurochs and bringing back non domesticated species to manage big reserves of natural land, together hand in hand with sustainable tourism, this is where we need to aim.
Our idea is to try and influence the leisure industry to do the same, by creating circles of natural belts, in which if you are a farm, you focus on heirloom foods, and the campsite part goes hand in hand, with farm to fork, with artisan bread etc. The idea is to crate more natural habitat again, and to pull back a little from the crazy rush after income, in which more and more sites in the country side, no longer invest in nature, and instead of taking people into nature, they take away from nature for people.
Most people these days live in the cities, and so our countryside (being taken over by the leisure industry in the UK in the last 5 years) should focus on rewilding, and organic farming, creating natural defence belts, cleaning the air, and protecting us all from viral mutations and infections.
We developed some amazing strategies, like natural restaurants in yurts, we work a lot with ancient wheat varieties, and although there is a big waking up, the UK as a whole finds it hard to divorce from the rush for progress and economy, and a big driver in that is the glamping industry, it feels it is better because it operates in nature, yet it has harmed farming, more than any other industry, because it allows people to make an easier living instead of working the land, farms are bought to become holiday cottages, and even yurt campsites prefer to run events on manicured lawns than to focus on farming.
You who are a campsite owner, need to do your bit, it is hard to be telling you this, but you work in nature, and you need to stop regarding it as a hotel, I know no one likes to be told, but the earth is not ours, we are guests here, if you have a farm, which you inherited or maybe bought as you moved out of the city it is your responsibility to cultivate nature, we make nomadic structures, and in truth we see that the missing person in all of this is the nomad.
It was always the nomad who lived amongst the breeds who cultivated nature, maintaining bison herds at a level, going around the dry lands that will support no one else with goats, and I am afraid that losing nomads, meant we also lost those breeds, and as such have seen the desertification of some massive parts of this earth, in fact this is more of a cause to climate change then all the carbon emissions put together.
So from now on, this needs to be a clear direction, if you want to run weddings in nature, do not just trim the grass, plant some trees, and bushes, if you want to buy farms that used to farm locally, you also must find a way to work them, and having a successful business is not enough, and more than all if you have the luck to own big parts of wild land, you must rewild it. And so Glamping can not be an excuse anymore, now we are sick, we wear masks because we cut too many trees.
In the 1800’s settlers spoke about clearing land that they settled on, one of my favourite qoutes is from a book called the backwoodsman – “But nature will not allow laws to be prescribed to her without taking vengeance, or have changes made in her domestic arrangements forcibly by human hands. With the felling of forests and the turning up of the soil she sends diseases which check her insulter in the work he has begun, and punish him for his audacious inroads. It usually takes half a century ere nature is appeased and ceases to contend in this way with the mortals who trouble her; at least in Continental North America the diseases produced in this way usually increase for thirty years, and decrease for so long a period, until they entirely cease. This is the case with the interior, but not in the cities, where other relations occur in proportion with their expansion. At my settlement there had been for many years no malady, save those caused by external injuries; but now one or the other frequently complained of ague, bilious fever, flux, &c., and we often cursed the time when we saw the first white face settle amid our solitudes. At Lasar’s matters were proportionately worse, for a hundred negroes would be down at the same time. For my part I had as yet been spared, while all my companions had been ill.”
This is why we would like as a company to focus more and more on that side of our work, we have been making tents for you all for over 15 years, and maybe it doesn’t really count, yet we feel that there needs to be a new way of life, and the glamping industry can become its arrowhead, because currently it is just another system that deprives nature of itself. I know we have been saying it over and over, and maybe it is tiring, yet it still not enough.
We are working on taking 12 hectares on the edge of abandon in the mountains of Italy and develop them in a natural symbiosis, whilst at times we lose money from pushing people into a more natural way of operating, we feel that as nomads that is the core, We lived for 16 years on the road, and now there is no more nature one can simply live in, and so this is our payback, so if you do not want to be sick, rewild, and grow a forest, and help us bring the bison back, and heritage wheat, and maybe you would not need to wear a mask next year. Glamping can not be manicured as it is anymore, and it can not be the escape from small scale farming.
So with that the lecture is over, I hope you all hold through the next months, and that they help you reflect and stop thinking about how to make as much money as possible, and think about sustainability.
Contact us if you are a small farm, if you own wild land, if you want to find ways to cultivate the natural and nomadism again, and we can look at it together. We can not wait for green policies to take place, or the government, especially now the economy has taken such a hit. So it’s up to us.