Geography Awareness Week is approaching: a time to consider the relationship between people and their environment. To me, geography means thinking of the world as a whole. I have had the amazing opportunity to live and work all over the globe, experiencing many different ways of life. From being born in Malaysia to living in Hong Kong, Indonesia and China, travelling extensively for work and independently, and now having moved halfway around the world to my corner of Hampshire, it has been incredible to see what nature means and looks like in different countries and communities around the world.
I have always been interested in my environment and finding connections with nature everywhere I go has been a fundamental pillar throughout my life.
While there are many differences between where I grew up and where I live now, both unique places hold a special place in my heart.
In Malaysia, the exquisite colour palette found everywhere in nature is created by the combination of hibiscus plants dotted around the gardens and forests. The national flower, a symbol of growth and life, is also used to create a herbal mixture for a traditional remedy.
These gardens immediately spring into my mind when I see the red poppies bloom throughout the seasons now in Ewhurst, the colour as vibrant as the gardens in Malaysia, though in such a different setting. The poppies become a source of pollen for wild bees, dragonflies and other insects. Finding these similarities not only brings a sense of nostalgia but makes me feel more connected to nature and its significance to our lives.
This goes beyond just admiration. At Ewhurst, as we build our edible landscape and promote foraging and grow forest gardens, we are able to create unique dishes that cement the connection between food and nature. At the end of September, I had the opportunity to collect dozens of mushrooms, which became the base for a Mushroom paté along with the crunchy green accompaniment of a native Eurasian plant, Sorrel. However, despite being inspired by English wildlife, it reminded me a bit of a rich and creamy traditional Malaysian dish, Mushroom Korma. It is fascinating how through one single ingredient, two dishes can unite specific moments and places in my history and my heart.
In Ewhurst, I have sought to create a space that reconnects its visitors to nature and to themselves, whether that is through finding beauty in small flowers, or having a delicious taste of foraged food bring back memories of their favourite childhood dishes.
Nature is amazing. It is a key part of our lives, no matter where we live in the world. It really can bring different cultures together, even in ways that you would not expect.
This is my aim for Ewhurst Park. I seek to support the growth of a landscape that reminds us of the importance of conservation, reigniting the bond between humans and the natural world around them, and allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty and enjoy the gifts of our environment.
While we are on our journey here at our farm,conservation is truly a global effort. Sometimes, life gets in the way and it is easy to take nature for granted – even for me! That is why I wanted to take the time this Geography Awareness Week to remember, take a breath and take stock of the amazing world around me. These have been my reflections this week, and I hope that it has been a reminder to you to look around and appreciate the nature found in your part of the world.
Share in the comments how you connect with nature, no matter where you are in the world! I would love to hear what inspiration and fond memories you have drawn from the flowers, food, or animal life around you.