By December 1, 2019 No Comments

The blue sky, a bright sun – it could be raining, but the weather is always good when your heart is in the right place. It is not difficult to be in a good mood when one’s surroundings are so charming. Walking up the main street, I always stop by the local bakery to taste the traditional Cornish pasty. But that’s not all. Totnes is the right destination for an eco-friendly vacation. Here we find second-hand clothing stores, a zero waste shop, a market for organic and local products, bars with jazzy vibes and quality vegan ice cream too! I highly recommend the blue unicorn flavor from Delphini’s Gelato Totnes.

Main street at Totnes. Photo by Jane Weber.

Totnes is a small town in South England in Devon County. Surrounded by incredible greenery, it is best known for being a pioneer in energy transition. Indeed, from there was born in 2006 the non-profit association Transition Town Totnes, created by a well-known Professor in permaculture, Rob Hopkins. This citizen initiative aims to strengthen the local economy while reducing the environmental impact of the community. It works through the involvement of small groups of volunteers who implement innovative social and environmental projects. Everyone can participate and the advantage is that it is anchored locally, so it gives a more sustainable reach for the inhabitants of the city. It is clear that rurality is not a hindrance to modernity. Building on the future by stimulating the possibilities of the present and the territorial potential is the idea embodied in this solidarity work. Followed in the world, TTT finds its equivalent in France and even has an international network of Transition.

The Zero Waste shop at Totnes. Photo by Jane Weber.

Walking along Dart river crossing the city, I can see from afar a residential eco-responsible neighborhood. Built with wooden materials, houses’ roofs are covered with solar panels. The area is inhabited by a quiet silence whose price is not cheap. According to a consultant in ecology, more of these houses will be built over the next few years. In this process, the landscape will inevitably change, new neighborhoods growing little by little. This practice makes space management private, possibly giving it more financial resources but influencing the way in which wildlife is shaped. the harmonious organization is favored over a more chaotic grassland which would reflect the complexity of nature.

The bunkhouse at Lower Sharpham Farm. Photo by Jane Weber.

For me, it was in England where I learned the most about ecology and moreover, what an environmental consciousness implies. Moving away from the center of our charming Totnes, we come across Lower Sharpham Farm (Ambios group). The fields testify to the environmental engagement of the farm: no glyphosate (a herbicide). In fact, this organic farm offers a traineeship on preservation and knowledge of the British natural and agricultural environment. Punctuated by encounters with professionals, theoretical courses, research projects, and more concrete agricultural tasks, this experience is ideal for anyone wishing to professionalize or complete academic training in the environmental field. The first week was particularly interesting. Living in a community and adapting to new people and settings can be challenging, but what a rewarding experience it was! Learn to learn, observe and understand. The growth mindset we aim to reach does not ignore the difficulties but accentuate the positive to eliminate the negative. In this unique setting, reconnecting with nature is a way to reconnect with the human.


A staff writer for the Travel Section of the Sundial Press, Jane Weber loves exploring the world as much as she loves writing. Sharing discoveries, experimenting and confronting various prospects are values that drive her work as an apprentice journalist. Now in her second year in the Euro-American program at Sciences Po, she hopes to contribute to journalism on campus with hard-hitting content and a vibrant stylistic sensibility.


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