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The Women Who Planted Thyme

Updated: Mar 31, 2022

Life at Oak Tree Farm, home to the Oak Tree Alpaca Herd, with Fiona (artist) and Jane (gardener)

Women are said to be skilled multi-taskers. We juggle different aspects of ourselves and fill the time we have. If you had told me four years ago that I had time to be involved with a small holding that combined alpacas, chickens, sheep and an edible flower and herb garden, I would have laughed. And yet here we are, with a growing herd of alpacas and a soon-to-be blooming farm garden.

We started with a field, a spade and an idea about working the land and caring for animals. We have dug the earth and created beds, planting thyme. Thyme is a herb which symbolises courage: a sense being who you are with your whole heart. This is what the land offers to us. As the thyme became established, it took up space and we found time we didn’t know existed: a space to breathe between work and home. We were growing time.

There is something both grounding and soothing about working with the land and animals. As part of the small team that owns and runs the farm, I take pleasure in documenting activity at the farm across the seasons and creating art inspired by what I see. I have time to look in different ways, from above and below and tinted with different hues.

The garden has become home to a diverse range of edible flowers and herbs. It is intentionally (and inevitably!) wild around the edges so we can forage nettles, dandelions and other ‘weeds’ alongside the ones we put in the ground deliberately. Our polytunnel extends the growing season a little, giving us more thyme, and allows us to grow tender plants too.

The land is always changing and the time we spend there is both nourishing and satisfying. There is a direct relationship between the time we put in and what we see around us. We are always learning what works and what doesn’t: weathering storms, managing disappointments and sharing success. We can’t keep this sort of experience to ourselves, and we spend some thyme offering a range of opportunities to be at the farm.

There is thyme for others to help with animal care and land management, building confidence and broadening experiences. We are a venue for other events too and welcome visitors who learn about foraging with The Nottingham Forager or take part in yoga or mindfulness sessions.

Visitors can book in for an alpaca experience all year round, spending time with our gentle alpacas, either feeding them in the fields or walking with them through our corner of ancient woodland. When you come to the farm, we love to tell you about our composting and the contribution the alpacas make to the farm garden.

We also offer seasonal events, often in collaboration with others and we are now planning for Mother’s Day and Easter. Sharing our love of being outdoors and creating in nature are key parts of what we do.

So, if you’d like to add a little more thyme into your day, as a pause between all the other ways that you spend your time, we highly recommend planting some. Not only do you get to smell the musky and aromatic leaves (and taste it as you add it to your food), you also find a connection with a clock that is governed by the rhythm of the seasons: a different sort of thyme.

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