Four Mills Community eco space

Four Mills Community eco space

The Turning tides project is a community interest company who believe that everyone has the right of equal access to music, arts and life. Many of the people who benefit from this project are autistic and have a learning disability.

The project takes a social model of disability approach which stops looking at the individual that is ‘different’,  and instead looks at the barriers and problems that surround them. Fix the world to make it more accessible, and tackle discrimination.

The Social Model uses the word ‘impairment’. By using these words we can separate the individual difference (impairment) from the disability (the barriers, barriers, discrimination and exclusion), which helps us to think about what it is that the world needs to change. It means that we can all contribute to that change because disability does not belong to individuals but it is caused by the way society treats difference.

Four Mills Garden

In Crediton, Devon, the four mills garden run by the turning tides project is an oasis of calm and nature for those who go there. Lots of things are reused and repurposed to define zones in the long, fairly narrow piece of land that nestles above the Tarka line in mid Devon.

Man made shelters add to the natural shade of the trees and there is a community zone, composting toilets, a flower growing area, vegetable raised beds, a memorial garden, a memorial mermaid, a proto amphitheatre and woodland areas. Music and art in nature permeates the area.

The site has three organisers, Sam, the manager, and Tom and Philippa who are called happening makers because they make things happen. Dan is the manager for the eco venue which will consist of an outside amphitheatre which can be hired out to local people when finished.

We met at Crediton tea rooms, which is also run by the turning tides project and walked along a narrow pathway, uphill to the patch of land. It felt like entering a secret garden.

During lockdown it was a lifeline for the group of people who work the land, all of whom have a social worker care plan. The site is outside and away from people. It was easy to social distance and the community aspect of what this project can offer was essential to enable them to cope with the strange new world of restrictions that the pandemic brought to all of our lives.

Cut flowers are sent to the flower shop in town to be sold and they have also provided flowers for weddings. The vegetables grown are sent down to the cafe to be made into meals for those visiting the cafe. They also do gardening for people which brings in a small income.

Sam explained that they often have to bring up water to the area from the tearooms to keep the flowers and vegetables from dying in the heat. This now has to happen from April, despite the numerous numbers of water butts and tanks which are dotted around the place and strategically placed under every roof structure in the area.

This is sustainability at its best – reuse, reduce, recycle and in addition, provide an environment for well being.

Welcome to the four mills garden

Walking up a tiny path fires the imagination
The doors open...
Through a welcoming arch (that could be borrowed for wedding with flowers)
Meet Sam, Philippa and Tom

Communal Space and compost toilet

A cosy communal space
Let's open up the space age box
To find a decorated compost loo
But no number 2s for the time being

Compost bins and water butts

The cycle of life - compost bins
Water butts attached to everything possible
This is the wonky shed held up by trees growing through it

Amphitheatre and memorials

The amphitheatre will make a lovely performance space once they have seats
Decorated by Devon cider casks
A memorial garden for grandad
A memorial mermaid to remember a model maker

Vegetables and Flowers

The outdoors – well being

Potential for a woodland trail
The rain has collapsed the willow arch
Quiet and peaceful countryside
The plot of land is surprisingly long
Watch the world go by on the Tarka line
Bonfire with melted marshmallows

Music and Art

Painted pebbles
More sounds to make
WInd chimes to play
On loan for a while
Hanging art
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