The garden is my church, the kitchen my altar and pantry a prayer book By Jake

At 22 years old, our new kitchen volunteer has developed an important path as a cook. 

Born and raised in Brighton, Jake shares with us his experience at Newbold and gives away this brief but very emotional testimony of his daily encounter with the kitchen.

He started as dishwasher when he was 14 and got his first chance as a chef at the age of 18. Since then, he has been working and travelling around places such as England, New Zealand, Uganda, Thailand & Vietnam. This has created a great impact on his life and of course in his cooking style.

His aim? To create community through food…. to bring people together.

We are grateful for Jake and his wonderful collaboration and hard work and hope you enjoy his blog post:  

Every time I sit to eat; it is an act of worship.

The garden is my church, the kitchen my altar and pantry a prayer book from which I can, with luxurious will, draw on flavours like a chorus of hymns.

Food for me is a direct connection to creation, to the source of our nourishment, the bubbling spring of natural abundance and expession of nature in tangibly tasty form.

We depend upon the myriad miracles of nature that align (maybe with a little assistance from the gardeners shadow) along a transformative process from sun to soil, seed to fruit, to eventually meet us, yet another integral contributor to the cycle of life.

And so it seems a great dis-justice for these precious jewels of divinity to so often be asphyxiated in lifeless plastic.

In stark contrast I find myself taking a stroll from the bubbling alchemical environment of the kitchen to take some time in communion within the Newbold gardens, harvesting with a grateful whistle, a prayer of sorts, parsley, sorrel, spinach, lettuce and other april offerings. These first enthusiastic arrivals setting the scene for a season of sensual theatrics as vines twine and pods pop.

It is at this threshold, between garden and kitchen where I thrive most. Knowing that the instant a stem snaps there is an obligation to honour in its freshest form the days harvest. I have been known to be found on all fours in the polytunnel grazing hands free to maximise the ‘freshness experience’. It is here that my native self is proven. As I play my part in this sacred cycle i acknowledge I am holding sunlight, condensed into a leaf or berry, lifegiving, planet sustaining sunlight.

Whereas a tree or plant can largely gather information directly from the sun, we as humans must depend upon a far more intricate and longer process of concentrating that energy into be it leaves or flesh. As we have not yet evolved photosynthetic powers, we seek from other organisms. Therefore as a necessary harvest this becomes an act of sacrifice that in turn should rightfully be worshipped. It is with this truth that I cook. 

By Jake


‘The heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future’ by Allan Gray

‘The Heritage of the past is the seed that brings forth the harvest of the future’
Wendell Philips

This week we were privileged to have the company of Harley & Cally as our guests at Newbold. Co-founding members of Newbold.


IMG_5540_nHarley and Cally spoke about being drawn to Newbold and the determination to create a life at the Victorian House. On 17th November 1980 they officially formed their own community and charitable trust (still renting the house from the landlords) The trust succesfully operated workshops regularly which lead to the Newbold Trust community purchasing the property for £85,000 in May 1983.

The House began to run its economy according to a system of donations, which proved highly successful and offered a persuasive alternative to accepted business practices. Buoyed up by the generosity of its guests, Newbold was paid off within ten years and has been self-managed since under the guardianship of a group of Trustees, plus the management and operations skills of a resident team of core members.

IMG_5531Harley and Cally shared stories through the evening with current volunteers and staff members sharing photographs and experiences of life in community. They told stories of the garden, stories of music, stories of laughter, stories of challenges and stories of change. I felt warmed by their open and loving nature; I felt honoured to be part of the Newbold Story.

Harley and Cally are a couple with strong values IMG_5520who had the drive to create a community that is still vibrant and upholding the same values 36 years later. The determination, love and resilience of Harley and Cally  and the people that joined them are what made everything at Newbold possible and created a future for which the present and future Newbold residents will be forever grateful.


XjnMopamBy Allan S Gray

Allan, local to the area of Moray and a graduate of the University of Highlands and Islands, Allan has a key interest in environmental protection, adventure and for the community of Moray.

Toward a Permanent Culture

I’ve arrived as a new volunteer at Newbold after attending the Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) Course at Findhorn this past autumn. Since 2013, I’ve been volunteering at a number of similar projects — retreat centres, educational institutes, and spiritual communities — each with its own strengths and challenges, each aiming to achieve sustainability, each taking active steps to improve their infrastructures, foodways, social networks, and habits. I’m delighted with how Newbold compares to the others, and how folks here are engaged with the challenges of making Newbold more sustainable.

The EDE Course divided sustainability into four aspects: spiritual,economic, ecological, and social. Something Newbold does particularly well is the social aspects. I like how we Newbolders incorporate spirituality throughout our daily life, from the morning meditations & Taize singing, to casual conversations at tea break or mealtimes. No one insists that we all follow one particular path, yet I get the sense that we all hold some things sacred, which makes me feel welcomed among warmhearted folk.

An exciting area with which I’m involved is the development of in-house educational programmes at Newbold. One of Newbold’s strengths is on the social side, for instance, a new monthly-meeting Permaculture Design Course (PDC) will be offered at Newbold soon ( permaculture).  Permaculture espouses a more ‘permanent’ ‘culture’  including pattern thinking, sustainable design, re-imagining human settlements and resource management and also include personal and social permaculture aspects, which is why it seems like such a natural fit here at Newbold. Many of the places I visited were using permaculture, especially the ones concerned about local food.


Permaculture applies the same principles used in ecological systems to social systems (, encapsulated in the phrase: “planet-care, fair-share, and people-care.” If we are to become a truly sustainable culture we’ll need to communicate, make decisions, negotiate conflicts, and gather for celebrations and ceremonies. People-care is what Newbold does particularly well. The culture here includes a balance of work time, informal group time, and personal time; meetings happen regularly both for personal sharing and to take care of business. There’s an emphasis on non- violent, or “compassionate communication,” ( so that when difficult conversations need to happen relationships can stay intact, or even be strengthened. Sociocracy structures ( help discussion of changes in policy, and ensure that most of us are well-informed when decisions are taken. I’ve been introduced to the 8-Shields work of Jon Young (, with specific practices to create a more regenerative culture. We who work and reside here feel valued, nurtured and supported so that we can ably convey our sense of well-being to guests and visitors. It’s striking to me, and I haven’t found anything like it in all my travels. At Newbold, I have I found a culture which cares about people *and* the planet. So I’m hopeful, and encouraged, and plan to stay a while to learn what I can, and teach what I’ve learned.



Root Cuthbertson is an environmental educator, local food gastronomist, honey collector, dance teacher, story-teller, singer-songwriter, blog-writer (that’s a new one!), and is working on a sci-fi action adventure novel.

Garden Blog: All about Apples

Mid August in the walled garden, the first variety of apple ripen and fall. The snow in early December has ensured the remainder of any hanging fruit has fallen, the blackbirds feasting on the frozen Bramley’s Seedling variety plump on the ground, creating apple carcasses on the frozen earth.

apple_juiceThe last trees baring fruit were the six Bramley’s Seedling and the first in September where the Beauty of Bath. In between this seasonal parade of
70 apple trees in leaf, in bloom, with apples, without apples, without leaves, dormant, we create and celebrate the bounty of these beautiful trees.

There are around 35 different variety of apple some of them Heritage varieties. Some planted 100 years ago, they have experienced much more than any of the human beings living here now. They are home to many lichens, mosses, birds, insects and help create the atmosphere of the walled garden that grows a majority of the food for the community of Newbold House.

IMG_5833This year Newbold Trust with the help of the Voluntary Action Fund created a Volunteer Coordinator post that enabled the coordination of preserving of many garden harvests including apples. Thanks to all the volunteers who come to our preserving days and to work in the garden.

We made apple – compote, butter, curd, chutney, rings, cake,
tarts and all those things forgotten. We also, together with the garden volunteers, picked up windfalls, picked from the tree, processed apples into apple juice, sorted apples for storage, and spat a pip on Apple Day.
It will soon be time for pruning the trees. Each is very unique and with loving human attention and a positive outcome at the COP21 talks (see will again bear fruit for many years to come.

For more photographs of Apple Day and Food Preservation follow us on Facebook or click here.


Letter from our volunteer Angel

_DSF7463There, in the land where the summer loses its name,

In the realm of grey skies and cool air, lies a place,

And surrounded by woodland there is a house

And in it some people live.

Known as the Newbolders

They are reknown by their kindness

And total acceptance of anybody visiting,

Be it for a day, for a week, for a month, for years…

Through them a permeating peacefulness radiates

To everybody around

And you get embedded in it

Feeling at peace, at ease and relaxed

They hold the space and they co-create the atmosphere

For the enjoyment of all the people visiting.


I have been there for a little while

And I have been embedded in its caring dynamics

And now I have to leave, leaving behind this place,

Leaving behind its peacefulness and acceptance

But taking a part of it in my heart

So those qualities form part of my being.


I cannot say I feel sad in this hour of my leaving,

I cannot say I feel happy in my leaving either.

Strange as I am, I feel a sense of completeness,

I have fully given myself

And I have fully received the essence of the place in myself.


So there is neither sadness nor happiness,

Nor any regrets of not having done something

Or of having done something,

Just the contentment of having fully partaken in the sacred dance

Of giving and receiving with an open heart.


And out of this sense of completeness

Comes a flow of gratitude for having been in this place,

Gratitude to each one of the people inhabiting this house

Expressing in their unique ways its qualities,

Gratitude for accepting me to participate

In the multicolour, multifaceted kaleidoscope they form,

Transmitting its beauty to the place.


To all of them, those who were in the past,

Those who are now living and I have met them,

And those who will be in the future

Goes my gratitude for making possible and holding

The beauty of this place

With their open hearts


To Allan, Andrea, Bas, Bruna, Ceri, Christopher, David, Deborah, Emma, Heather, Judith, Julie, Kristy, Martin, Michael, Paul, Rita, Seth, Sylvia, Ulrike, Victor…. And to all the local volunteers!!!

Andrea 2 2015Florencia Marcus Matias 2015Juan and Florencia

A Warm Welcome at Newbold by Steve McHugh

Steve McHugh preparing applesI was lucky enough to spend a couple of weeks at Newbold as a short term volunteer and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. As soon as I arrived, I was made to feel totally at ease by the warm welcome everybody there gave me and that soon helped me settle in.

The funny thing that struck me when I came there was, how efficiently run everything is. From the staff work rota and timetable of weekly events, to which new guests were due to arrive or the number of people having lunch or dinner. The attention to detail meant that the whole house ran like clockwork so that I always knew what was going on or where I should be at any given time.

During my stay, I mainly worked in three departments, the kitchen, garden and homecare, where I learned something new each day. Be it trying a new recipe to cook for lunch in the morning to, say, learning a technique to train tomato plants to grow up a string suspended from a polytonal ceiling. Even though I was a novice at some things, everyone around was very helpful in ensuring I was comfortable with each task I was given so that I never felt under any pressure whilst I was doing them.

One of the best things about Newbold was that it encouraged me in such a way that I felt comfortable in trying new things that are normally outside my comfort zone. This even extended to me attending the daily Taizé singing session even though I can’t sing! To me that’s a testament to how relaxed and nurturing an environment it is, to both live and work in.

Some other highlights were the delicious daily meals (mainly incorporating homegrown fresh veg from the house’s organic garden), an impromptu baking session, where copious amounts of cakes and biscuits were made for an up-coming garden day event or a group film, complete with freshly made popcorn. Newbold was my first experience of community style living and it’s a way of life I’d wholeheartedly recommend for anyone to try. You’ll meet some great people, share some wonderful food and take away a lot of happy memories. Thanks one and all! Steve McHugh

Volunteering at Newbold by Bruna

The Garden at NewboldI was delighted to discover Newbold House this summer, and was fortunate enough to volunteer there for three weeks in August. Volunteering at Newbold was both a pleasure and a privilege. To me, it was a great pleasure to meet so many wonderful people and to work in such a healthy and respectful environment. Everyone that I met there, being the members of the community or volunteers, have inspired me somehow through their life stories and, particularly, their willingness to build a healthier global community, based on spiritual, ecological and sustainable principles. Similarly, it was a privilege to eat fresh fruits and vegetables cultivated in the gardens of Newbold House. Cultivating our own food is vitally important in a time when food is produced at industrial scale with toxic chemicals and then oddly wrapped in contaminating plastic. Rather than tasting artificial flavours, so common in our processed food system, at Newbold, the taste of freshness, care and love was appreciated in every meal.
Places like Newbold are living proof that we can live in harmony with nature and one another. By slowing down the pace of our frenetic and busy modern society, one can enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like walking through gardens while witnessing bees kissing flowers.

StrawberriesIn the age of mass production and high-tech society, I constantly feel a need to return to the joy that exists in the simple pleasures of life, such as picking strawberries and raspberries in a still summer day. The strawberries’ beds and raspberries’ bushes, so carefully looked after by Martin and all the wonderful volunteers, made my days happier and sweeter. The art of picking berries turns out to be a perfect practice to connect with nature and the present moment, while developing gentle touch and an attentive mind. The berries are so delicate that one must be constantly attentive and have gentle hands so they don’t become a puree between one’s fingers. I discovered a deep joy in looking for berries behind green leaves, which awakened my mind in pure attention as my thoughts would dissolve in silence. I also noticed how easily and effortlessly the ripened berries would fall in my hands, just like sweet and free gifts offered by Mother Earth to satisfy our needs. It was always so insightful to perceive that when something is ready, no effort and force is needed. The experience of picking berries offered me the opportunity to connect with the wonders of Mother Earth as well as inner fields of joy and silence. I am very grateful to Newbold House for offering me the space for such connection.

Apples DSC08830