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Written and Captured by the wonderful Amanda Jackson

The craziness that is the year 2020, the year of the pandemic, lockdowns and the introduction of new words and terms into our vocabulary (it took me ages to learn how to say “Furlough”) meant that I forgot to celebrate the ten year anniversary of my first visit to the Lammas Eco Village in Pembrokeshire.

I’m rather big on celebrating anniversaries and minor holidays. I get my Canadian flag out on July 1st every year and eat pancakes with maple syrup (I’m originally from Canada). I’ve also been known to throw birthday parties for my dog (which caused one resident at the eco village to state “Not everyone thinks you’re mad Amanda, some people haven’t met you.”) So missing this anniversary has rather thrown me, as has the fact that I have spent lockdown and semi-lockdown in Malvern and I have not been able to get to visit the village due to the travel restrictions the last few months. Now that things have eased (or apparently eased) I’m looking forward to some quality time spent there soon.

I first visited Lammas in April of 2010 with the view of taking some portraits of the residents for a series I was working on about alternative living. I was so taken with the place, the people and the lifestyle that I visited again in August of the same year. By early 2011 I was living in a static caravan in a field next to the eco village.

The Lammas Eco Village is made up of 9 smallholdings, with each plot having a sizeable amount of land, with a community hub building in the centre. When I moved there a group of volunteers had come to the village to help build the hub building, learn new building skills. They lived in a circle of caravans around the build, affectionately nicknamed “Shantytown”. Some of those people later bought land in the surrounding area and became part of the wider community.

Come 2013 I had moved out of the static caravan and was dividing my time between Malvern in the Midlands and my own little patch of land next to eco village, staying in a tiny retro caravan. The summer of 2013 was magical. I spent the summer living in that caravan, hanging out with my neighbours in the nearby fields, helping build compost toilets and duck houses, swimming in the lake, wandering around with my Mamiya 7 film camera, sharing food in the evenings and getting the wood burner going if it was a particularly chilly night.

Many of my favourite photos form the series To Build A Home were taken during this time. I feel like it was a summer of unusually good weather but that could be that many of my memories come from looking at my photos of sun-filled days and the reality was that when it was grey and wet I was most likely to be found in my caravan reading ‘The Hitchhikers Guide’ or drinking cups of tea with my pal Jake as he wrote strongly worded messages to the weather gods in the condensation that was building up on my windows.

The eco village and the surrounding community (many people live on the outskirts of the community, some who bought land there after first volunteering at the village) is such a special place but it isn’t without its hardships. Community living can be tough and when your lives are so entwined and linked to obtaining your basic needs, such as water and hydro electricity, it can become challenging. I have my own take on life there because I dip in and out of it. I don’t have the pressure of making a land based livelihood like the residents at the eco village, where the planning permission is based on the One Planet Development policy. My hardships generally involved collecting water and trying to get the creatures that have decided to take up residence in the caravan to find accommodation elsewhere. Most memorable was the time that I heard metallic scratching coming from inside my wood burner. When a hook emerged from a gap and started clawing around I realised a bat re-homing situation to deal with.

To Build A Home is one of those projects that I won’t every be able to stop working on and put to bed. The community continues to evolve, as does my personal approach to taking the photos of it. And it continues to inspire me, both photographically and in terms of a way of life.

Tyddyn Hedd (Maia)

all work and no play

Jake

Friday afternoon party

horse

The beekeepers

The Beekeepers

Quiet sacred place of sweet things

The Wizard of Oz

Phil, Odin and Aubrey

josh

From the series To Build A Home:

A study of the people of the Lammas Tir Y Gafel Eco Village and the surrounding community

Amanda Jackson

http://www.amandajaxn.co.uk/

@amandajaxnphoto