The Quaker Community in Bamford, Derbyshire is about 20 minutes by train from Sheffield has space for guests and runs varied retreats. The community has over 10 acres of reclaimed land including woodland, a meadow and wetland as well as fruit & vegetable growing areas and a Forest Garden. The beautiful surroundings of the Peak District provide ample opportunites for hill and riverside walks.
The residents see developing a community on Quaker principles as a radical witness in a competitive, individualised and materialistic world. Friends might like to explore what it might mean for them to live in the community.
The community have a varied programme of retreats, ranging from silence to seasonal celebrations, and from gardening to discussing Quaker responses in Palestine and Israel. They are also offering writing, art and singing retreats. Their short courses focus on Quaker spirituality and Quaker approaches to sustainability and community.
They normally ask guests to be self-catering, unless they visit at an enquirers’ weekend or a programmed retreat, when they eat together with the residents.
“I have just returned from a great weekend ‘Real Food’ retreat at the Community. Plenty of exercise digging up potatoes, harvesting beans, blackcurrants, courgettes, onions, garlic, lettuce, kale, tomatoes, narsturtium and evening primrose blossoms, herbs, and so on – all then conscientiously prepared for a vegetarian evening feast. Other creative activities such as potato printing, producing edible necklaces, baking damper bread over a bonfire etc – in addition to some tai chi, poetry, songs and games – completed the weekend. For me, the best part was chatting with the warm-hearted and interesting residents and guests (including Madeline G L from Farnborough Meeting and Fran – a past Farnborough attender): a wonderful social event! And I was delighted to discover that one of the residents was an acquaintance of mine – Jasmine – of whom I have fond memories, and that she has been the QVA Working Retreats Co-ordinator for a while.
Note 1: ‘Damper’ is a basic, yeast-free bread recipe made by the early colonial settlers in the Australian Bush. Due to the simplicity of the ingredients, this bread is ideal for baking over campfires.
Note 2: The poem read out by Gregory was Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney, who had died the day before we arrived for the retreat. The picking of the blackberries and the inevitable process of decay becomes a metaphor for other experiences:
Late August, given heavy rain and sun for a full week,
the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot among others,
red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet like thickened wine:
summer’s blood was in it
leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking.
Then red ones inked up and that hunger
sent us out with milk-cans, pea-tins, jam-pots
where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
we trekked and picked until the cans were full,
until the tinkling bottom had been covered with green ones,
and on top big dark blobs burned like a plate of eyes.
Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks,
our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too.
Once off the bush the fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair that all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.”
Website : www.quakercommunity.org.uk.
Telephone : 01433 650085
Email : mail©quakercommunity·org·uk
Address : Sheffield Quaker Community Ltd, Water Lane, Bamford, HOPE VALLEY, Derbyshire, S33 0DA, UK