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September 2011

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I've often described the Devon village I live in as a town full of artists...but it's also well known, here in the West Country, for its strong and lively "green" community, supporting organic farming, permaculture, the slow food/local food movements, recycling, composting, eco-building, and other sustainability issues. 

A few weeks ago, the Guardian newspaper ran an article  on "Chagfood,"the Chagford Community Agriculture project run by young local farmers (inspired by the Levellers and the Diggers), with the help of Samson, a four-year old Welsh cob/Dartmoor pony cross.

Sammy & Ed come into town "Chagford is about as lovely a village as you could ever hope to find," writes  journalist Carole Cadwalladr. "It's almost absurdly picturesque with its ancient stone buildings and village green bounded by fields and streams and the wild, dark hills of Dartmoor looming overhead. It's hard to imagine how it could be any lovelier. And then Samson comes clip-clopping down the road pulling a cart loaded with freshly picked organic produce. Honestly. It's so ridiculously bucolic that I expect Miss Marple to come flying around the corner on a bicycle."

Later in the article she notes: "My suspicion was that Samson's real purpose was to give the project a rural cute factor, but this was before I met Ed [Hames] and realised that this isn't some whimsical hobby, it's part of a greater philosophical framework. He's a boyish 29 years old, and might not look like much of a revolutionary, hanging out, growing cabbage and onions in a field in Devon, but he's a proper ideologue. On the one hand, Chagfood is about providing local, sustainable, seasonable produce, but it's also part of his wider mission: extending land rights for all."

Read the whole article (here) for an interesting glimpse at another side of our village. Related links: the Chagfood website & blog, The Chagford Hub, Proper Job, The Land Magazine, and the Reclaim the Fields organization. Also, check out the video of Samson above (from Banyak Films). He is awfully cute, and I always love seeing him heading up to town with his cart full of flowers and veggies....

Chagford Community Agriculture

Dealing with Dragons


“How should we be able to forget those myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
  - Rainer Maria Rilke

"Scared and sacred are spelled with the same letters. Awful proceeds from the same root word as awesome. Terrify and terrific. Every negative experience holds the seed of transformation."
  - Alan Cohen

On Your Desk

Brittany's desk 2

The latest entry in the "On Your Desk" series comes from another member of the world-wide Mythic Arts circle: Brittany Warman. Born in rural northern Virginia, Brittany has lived in Florida; New York; California; Oxford, England and Galway, Ireland; and is now back in Virginia working on her Master's degree in folklore and literature. A fiction writer as well as an aspiring academic, her latest story (a beautiful little tale based on Japanese "kitsune" folklore) can be found in the last issue of Jabberwocky magazine. Several other publications are forthcoming.

"The first picture (above) shows my desk and workspace for all of my projects," she says. "I'm a bit of a packrat and am currently at home while I work on my Master's degree at a nearby university so, while I don't have a great deal of space, I try to make do! I've hung postcards and prints of of art that inspires me on my window curtains, the desk is constantly covered with writing notebooks, and there is of course the necessary cup of tea!"

Brittany's desk 1

"The second picture (above) is a close up of my laptop; my wallpaper is one of the amazing 'Lady and the Unicorn' tapestries. You can also see a little print out of one of Su Blackwell's incredible book sculptures, a big cut of crystal, a candle, some fake flowers that remind me of briar roses (inspiration from my favorite fairy tale, 'Sleeping Beauty'), and a great pin of a witch and her cats by Molly Harrison.

"The third picture (below) is my slumbering muse :)."


"Fairy/faerie tales, myths, and folktales are my passions and are almost always the chief inspirations behind the creative and academic work that I do. I am particularly fascinated by retellings, both writing them myself and researching them, faerie and witch lore, folklore and feminist theory, and conceptions of magic and spirituality."

To learn more about Brittany and her work, please visit

And speaking of Jabberwocky magazine, a great new issue is up online.


All readers of this blog are welcome to contribute to the "On Your Desk" series. You'll find more information (and the address where you should send your photo) in the first post of the series, and you can view the full series here.

An Anniversary

T. & H. September 2009Howard & Tilly, Sept. 13, 2009

Today is the day, two years ago, when we brought little 8-week-old Tilly home from the farm in Tiverton where she was born....

H, V, & T September 2010Howard, Victoria, & Tilly on her first anniversary, September 2010

We'd driven to the farm intending to choose a pup (probably male) from a lively litter of eight -- but she was the one who chose us instead, with a quiet determination that was startling in its clarity. Then she sat calm as a Buddha on my stepdaughter's lap during the long drive home through the winding Devon lanes, with nary a fuss or backwards look. Planting herself firmly at the center of our family. Where she has been ever since.

T & meTilly & me, September 2011 (photo by Howard)

"I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren't certain we knew better."   - George Bird Evans

"My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am."   - Anon.

Tune for a Monday Morning

"Human Thing": a thoroughly lovely song and animation from The Be Good Tanyas, three women musicians from Vancouver, Canada. And thank you everyone for your kind comments in the last week. It's good to be back, and although we've got some family matters that are going to be pre-occupying us for a while to come, nonetheless life and art must go on....

Here's today's quote, a piece of practical advice that I have found very useful over the years:

"Don't duck the most difficult problems. That just ensures that the hardest part will be left when you are most tired. Get the big one done - it's downhill from then on."  -- Norman Vincent Peale