This rewilding project is ambitious. No doubt about it. I wanted the very first blogpost to provide some context in terms of how it started, the current status and most importantly – where it’s headed.
If you’re planning on skimming through, here’s the short version: I want to buy some land and put some flowers and trees on it. I’m going to use this website as a platform to earn the money so I can buy said land.
If you want to know why I’m doing this then you’ll have to keep reading!
The story that inspired rewilding.eco
My Grandma is in the habit of telling long-winded, rambling stories. In fact, at this point I’d go as far as to say it’s her trademark. Sometimes the stories have an informative or rewarding conclusion and sometimes… they just end abruptly.
All the way back in June of 2020 (not long after her 92nd birthday) as I was sat in her lounge, one such tale began to unfold. I drifted in and out, half-listening to the stories I’d heard many times before, until something caused my ears to perk up. Could it be my imagination? Or was this… something new?
The stories about my Grandma growing up on a farm in Yorkshire were so familiar to me that I almost feel like I lived there myself. One thing that always sticks out is the walking. She’d walk everywhere – to see her friends, to go to the shops and, as it turns out, to get to school.
For some reason, one tiny detail in particular jumped out at me. On her way to see her friends, or go to the shops, or to get to school, she’d walk through wildflower meadows. I couldn’t get that image out of my head.
I’d only ever seen wildflower meadows in pictures. I knew they existed – lazy evenings spent with my Dad watching Gardener’s World or the occasional news feature had taught me that much. The more I thought about it and the more I was reading about wildflower meadows, it seemed like I’d spent my entire life walking on pavements.
For what felt like the very first time, I found myself longing for something that wasn’t food or that had two X chromosomes. I wanted to experience the simple pleasure of walking through a wildflower meadow. Much easier said than done. In all the online research I was doing, one statistic over all others kept cropping up. Over 97% of wildflower meadows in the UK have been lost since the 1930’s. At this point I had what turned out to be a life-changing idea: if I can’t find any meadows to walk in, why don’t I create one?
I knew that there’d be many roadblocks to overcome in order to make this dream a reality. The greatest of all being the money required to actually buy the land in the first place. What followed was over two years of slamming my head into various walls trying to find the perfect solution… or any solution, really.
When I told my grandma I was getting close to giving up, she suggested writing a book. She knew at least 3 people she assured me would buy it. I don’t think she owns a gun but I’d imagine there’d be some kind of coercion involved.
That conversation gave much needed perspective and after some more head slamming, I finally had what I’d been looking for – a (hopefully) good idea.
How jam makes this rewilding project possible
Update 28/11/2022: since publishing, I’ve decided to change the fundraising approach of this project and start making our own range of hedgerow jam. You can read more about the new direction in this blogpost. I’m leaving this old idea in for posterity – the old subheading had the word ‘sponsorship’ instead of ‘jam’.
As you can no doubt tell from the name of this website, since I first set out on this journey my ambitions have grown much larger than a small wildflower meadow. Unfortunately… so has the price tag.
I don’t have that sort of money lying around and I don’t particularly want to become the trophy wife to a rich megalomaniac in order to fund this project, so I’ve settled on something that uses the only real skill I have – writing.
Here’s the plan – I’m going to sell sponsored blog posts on this website and put 100% of the money into buying land. I’ve set an initial target of 10 hectares which is equal to 100,000 square meters. If I charge £1 to sponsor each square meter then I’ll be able to raise £100,000 and buy the 10 hectares of land needed to start this rewilding project. That’s phase one.
I know there’s a lot of ifs, buts and coconuts involved in my back of a napkin calculations. If I’m being honest, seeing the idea written down in so few words makes me wonder whether it’s too simple.
I’ve been sat on this idea for a while, dragging my feet a little. There’s one question I’ve been wrestling with that I know I’ll need a very good answer to: why?
Why should anyone give me money to write about their company? Why would they?
Sure, this is a very unique proposition and undeniably a good cause. If – and it’s a big if – I can get some initial momentum going then the story for this project will practically write itself. The challenge is going to be creating content around businesses and products that are genuinely entertaining and interesting to read.
Then there’s the matter of who to approach. Given the nature of what it is I’m trying to do, it doesn’t feel right to seek sponsorship from businesses that are looking to greenwash their way to a better reputation. On the other hand, part of the plan is to eventually attract companies with deep pockets and you don’t usually get to that scale without causing some damage along the way. I suppose all I can do is use my best judgement when the time comes and hope that’s enough.
Long-term rewilding goals
Update 20/1/2023: after further research and planning, my long-term goals have increased exponentially. You can read more about my vision for this rewilding project here. As before, I’m leaving in these old goals as a sort of time capsule for this project.
Acquiring 10 hectares of land and successfully rewilding it is only the beginning. The final goal is to create a biodiverse paradise 10 times that size, like a scaled down version of Knepp Wildland or the Alladale Wilderness Reserve – but not Jurassic Park. That’s the finish line I’ve set for this project. That’s my endgame.
At the time of writing, I have a plan for the first 11 hectares and some loose ideas for the remaining 89. The more I think about it, the more it seems as though this project is going to become my life’s work. Not a bad way to make a living if you ask me!
It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t a charity – I’m intending to make money from the land in various ways and reinvest that into buying more land. The final cost for this project will be well over £1 million pounds so I’ll need every penny I can get my hands on.
Aside from the traditional farming route (dabbling in a little regenerative agriculture) I’m also excited to explore the possibilities of glamping. What’s the point of spending all this time and effort creating a stunning habitat for wildlife if you aren’t letting people come and experience it? If I’m able to hit the 100-hectare target within my lifetime then I’ll spend my twilight years working on creating wildlife corridors so that it’s easier for all manner of creatures and critters to come and go as they please.
Writing and publishing this blog post has felt like a real step forward for this rewilding project. Now that it’s out in the ether I can’t take it back, so the only move is to start making things happen.
I’ll do my best to write general progress updates to compliment the sponsored posts, although as I’m sure you can imagine those will be the priority in order to get the required funding!
Thanks for reading.