A lot has been happening in my work at Bellacouche. Firstly, I have been celebrating the weed, and this is the first of my weed hats, sold very quickly before I got on to my second!!
I have become a Parish Councillor as I felt (as I do!) there was an urgent need for our Dartmoor town to discuss the climate emergency. This has taken up a lot of my time and energy but in a short space of time there has been a shift, even with two vociferous climate deniers supporting some of the suggestions and attending a public meeting on the subject.
Then, against many odds, the Dartmoor National Park Authority declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency, with a net zero target emissions date set for 2025. This has added to the validation and support that we need, helping people come to an acceptance that life, as we know it, will have to change – always with the optimistic caveat that many of the changes will be for the better! Wellbeing now being a widely accepted concept of huge importance, and not something to be cynical about.
This brings me to the connections I make between Bellacouche the business, and her role in helping to reduce environmental pollution by promoting local sourcing, organic and regenerative farming and natural burial.
Our parish is in need of a new burial ground. I will be visiting Yealmpton Natural Burial Ground with another councillor, to find out how they, as a parish in similar need, set up their community facility. With the Emergency on climate change, the subject of how we take care of our loved ones’ bodies should come to the fore and not be relegated to a subject we do not talk about. I believe we should be facing our Final Frontier by opening the discussion, rather than leaving it to a time when we are at our most vulnerable after the death of someone we love.
As our skies become crowded with unwelcome gases (at least 12% annually of which come from Uk cremation) I would like to put forward the concept that there is capacity for natural burial for everyone, whether urban or rural. Burial is benign – it is what Nature intended – and it’s all about how we do it. The will and systems for it are growing but we are not there yet.
Rural burial can be part of a diverse farming system and does not necessarily mean that that land will be out of bounds for farming. My mother is buried in wool, in a field on Dartmoor, with sheep grazing over her. She would love that, as will I when my time comes, completing the Cycle of Life. Alternatively, the farmer can give over part of her/his land for the creation of woodland, whilst making an income by selling plots.
Many new ideas are coming forward and I like the concept of normalising burial. Urban burial sites could be former urban wastelands or even parkland, ready for transformation into natural spaces that happen also to provide burial plots. Not marked out with headstones, but plotted on a map housed in a beautiful natural ceremonial building with a ‘wall of remembrance’ for each person. There can be a choice between woodland, or meadow and these areas managed for wildlife, not manicured in a strange belief that this shows ‘respect’! Part of the normalisation would be that the spaces will be open for other uses too, like weddings, concerts, outdoor theatre and other cultural events.
Arnos Vale in Bristol is doing this with huge success. It’s an inspiring place to visit.
I’d like to draw your attention to my annual workshop which has one place left on the weekend of 27th September: Lifetime Cocoon weekend workshop. Also, my new brochure is at the printer and will be ready for sending out next week. If you would like a copy, please send me your address.
Now that I’ve found the email response section of this newsletter app. I welcome your response to my newsletter. Thanks for reading this far. Oh! I almost forgot to promote my extensive website; do visit it!!
Enjoy the rest of your summer!
With my best wishes,
This is one of the Dartmoor Greyfaces grazing where my mother, Primrose Mary Sømme, is buried.