Born and raised on a farm
I was brought up on a farm, so working with the Earth was very much part of my life. Recycling organic matter, growing vegetables, conserving water and nurturing seedlings was all normal behaviour, very much taken for granted for a long time.
Horse poo in big piles was perfectly normal, as was spreading it on the veg patch, eating fresh fruit and veg, podding endless boxes of peas and beans, stringing runners and picking strawberries was all part of the summer lifestyle.
I left home at 19, shunning rural life and desperate for a fast, City, monied environment, defensive to anyone who questioned what I was doing or why. When family visited while I was up in London and complained about the smell of fumes and pollution, I couldn’t understand what they were talking about.
I loved it, smart clothes, nice shoes, no mud and I felt the very epitome of sophistication – surely that’s what life was all about? How I looked and appeared to others was probably the most important thing to me at the time. I worked hard, played hard and had no concept of the wider world in any terms other than material success.
Then I had children – suddenly, everything seemed to have an impact, either on the environment they will grow up in, their bodies as they grow, their ability to learn, enjoy life, communicate – all aspects of life suddenly appeared very fragile.
With this sudden, voluntary but heavy responsibility came the realisation that each of us can have a positive impact on our environment, from which sort of washing up liquid we use, to where we shop, how we feed our families and whether we use chemicals in our gardens or not.
My parents did not have an organic farm. They are of the generation that used some chemicals to aid productivity and other chemicals to stop productivity. Fertilisers and weedkillers were the norm and not many people questioned the wider effects that they had on either wildlife or the Earth.