Honouring the Land
Our grounds are a little paradise, for people and wildlife. We manage them with a deliberately light touch, growing some food but leaving most of the land 'to nature'. This is a great habitat for everything from glow-worms to slow-worms, from dormice to birds of prey, from butterflies to the occasional passing deer.
Thanks to Maurits Fontein and Hillary Corney for these images.
We're designated a Site of Nature Conservation Interest for our grasslands, with various wildflower rarities including four species of orchid (see some of our Southern March, Bee, Pyramidal and Greater Butterfly orchids below). In our wooded areas there are secluded paths and magical places to sit and soak in the atmosphere.
We grow lovely fresh salads in a polytunnel and plenty of fruit in our orchard. There's a large soft fruit cage to protect the berries from the birds and the many rabbits who share the grounds. In 2017, we created a pond. :-)
Between our grounds and the sea a permissive footpath takes you through flower rich National Trust meadows grazed from time to time by organic sheep and cattle.
The beach itself is relatively – sometimes totally – deserted and is part of the famous Chesil Beach with good walks in either direction.
The Othona Community's origins at Bradwell connected us to the Celtic Christian past, long before today's revival of interest in all things Celtic. So a 'creation spirituality', honouring nature and all of the cosmos, is written into Othona's DNA. It also chimes with the outlook of the White Ladies who lived here before us.
Within our programme you'll find activities that reflect the insights of creation spirituality. By walking the countryside, paying close attention to birds or plants or rocks, responding with our own creativity, we may reconnect our own story with that of the universe in all its complexity and wonder.
"Learning to pray, as I understand it, is learning to listen with the mind and heart – making oneself attentive to each exquisite detail of the world." (Thomas Merton)
In February 2010 we started generating electricity from photovoltaic cells. The 36 panels on our chapel roof can generate a total of up to 6.4 kilowatts at a time. In 2012 another ….. panels were added to the Lodge where some of our core members live. Even on cloudy days they produce enough power to run some of our base load of fridges, freezers etc.
These two PV systems, taken together, not only reduce our electricity costs very significantly. They also return power to the grid and through the Feed In Tariff will be earning us an estimated £5,000 a year until 2035.
We are most grateful to the Low Carbon Buildings Programme and the Green Energy Trust (Scottish Power) for grant funding, as well as to two kind individual donors.
One of our buildings has its water heated by solar panels, with electrical backup if required. At the far end of the 'water cycle' we also operate in an environmentally friendly way. Once the solids have been extracted, our sewage and waste water is all ‘cleaned’ by horizontal flow reedbeds. Our position on a hillside means this is achieved without any need for pumps or other powered equipment.
In 2016 and 2017, Othona participated in West Dorset's Open Ecohomes event!
Our plan is to make the entire site carbon neutral by 2030 at the latest.