Please Note: This website is out of date. The Steward Community Woodland sustainable living project ended in 2018 for legal and planning permission reasons. The contents have been left here as a historical archive.

Some history about Affinity and its members

The group came together in 1997 after some friends had been inspired by the plans and vision of Plants For A Future, and other land based projects. Those people had for many years been actively involved in various environmental and social justice campaigns but felt that they didn’t want to spend their lives shouting about what was wrong in the world but instead actually walk the talk and live sustainably.

A meeting was arranged and advertised between friends with the idea of seeing what interest there was in setting up a low impact settlement based on permaculture principles. Monthly meetings thrashed out a common vision and a set of guiding principles. During the subsequent years the group has evolved, new people joined and some of the people from the early meetings are no longer with us.

During the first couple of years we did a lot of research into land prices, planning issues, intentional communities and permaculture. We formed a housing co-op as the legal structure of the group and later a workers co-op to buy the land. We issued zero interest loan stock certificates in order to raise the money to buy the land and started searching for suitable property.

Originally we were looking for land with buildings in order to avoid the planning problems. We looked at farm houses with fields and woodland for example but the cost was prohibitive. We would have needed the best part of a quarter of a million pounds so we started looking for just land or land with planning permission. Land with suitable permission was small and again very expensive – typically four times the value of the land itself.

We wanted to find land that needed to be regenerated; eg. degraded farm land, plantation woodland or a quarry. We looked at several quarries in Somerset and at woodland from Cornwall to Dorset. We came pretty close to buying some land near Calstock but fell in love with Steward Wood and haven’t looked back since.

The group has a diverse range or skills, qualifications and experience. Most of the group have done degree courses including Computer Science, English Literature, Sociology and Law. We have done courses on various topics ranging from eco-build to commercial horticulture to tool sharpening.

As a group we have volunteered at Tinkers Bubble, gaining experience in coppicing, felling, snedding and other woodland skills. We have also visited other intentional communities and permaculture projects such as Findhorn, King's Hill, Monkton Wyld, PFAF, Brithdir Mawr, and Brickhurst Farm. We have also visited the Centre for Alternative Technology.

Since moving onto the land on April 22nd (Earth Day 2000) we have been busy; making planning applications, growing some food, constructing communal structures and personal dwellings, doing outreach, providing power, and meeting our neighbours. We have also been surveying the land and its wildlife for our management and biodiversity action plan and for the long term permaculture design.

Most of the original founder members of the project have since left.  We were down to just four people living on site around 2002-2003.  The future of the project with such few members looked bleak.  However shortly after this period a family of five moved on followed by various others making up the group we have today.

Last updated: 2009-04-20

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