The Academy Of Being – Bentley Urban Farm

Doncopolitan Co-founder has another update for you from Bentley Urban Farm, our sister project, and a new project titled The Academy of Being. 

As I’ve mentioned previously in Doncopolitan, we’ve been busy creating safe, socially distanced, outdoor/indoor ‘break-out’ spaces at Bentley Urban Farm (BUF) which community groups, artists, schools, therapists and individuals have been using while their traditional venues have been out of bounds. We off the spaces on a quid-pro-quo basis, where those who have the funds can make a donation and those who don’t can either offer non-monetary donations of tools and materials, or do a spot of volunteer work as ‘rent’. (if you’d like to know more about this offer, then call/text Warren on 07846 439982).


The response has been amazing. BUF has transformed from being a food poverty and ecological focused project into a well-being centre offering therapy, art, music, sports and physical health, mindfulness and relaxation,  as well as our traditional food growing and food health focused workshops. One very popular new project is the bike repair workshops run by the Yorkshire Bike Shack which take place from 12pm until 4pm every Saturday afternoon. As restrictions lift we will also be running our ‘Good Vibrations’ music workshops at the same time, where you can learn to make and play instruments and jam together each Saturday evening… we’ll even add food to turn it into a proper party.

We’re about to launch an exciting event for Sunday afternoons too. The ‘Academy Of Being’ was inspired by the diverse range of groups, people and activities which already take place at BUF since we opened the site up. We’re about to launch a Spacehive crowdfunder to raise money to pay for equipment and tutors so that we can run a series of taster sessions guided by the people who donate to the crowdfunder and the people who engage with the activities.

Life isn’t about stuff, it is about experiences. It isn’t about money, it is about moments. The Academy Of Being is designed to give people access to as wide and diverse a range of experiences as possible. From creative ventures like arts and crafts, to physical pursuits such as tai chi, activities which engage our bodies and minds help to increase happiness and well-being, while fighting stress, anxiety, depression and isolation… the perfect tomic for post-lockdown blues. The effect is even more powerful when it takes place in a natural environment like BUF.

Some of our friends have already chosen the first couple of activities, which will include archery and willow weaving, but the idea of the project is that the people who get involved decide on what we’re going to try out at future Academy Of Being events. We will collectively decide upon the best ideas and we will use monies raised through the crowdfunder to employ a tutor and buy any necessary equipment. This will help to support people who have had a pretty rough time during the Covid-19 crisis, but will also ensure that we have a necessarily diverse range of activities to enjoy.

We want to bring back the lost idea of ‘betterment’, the notion that we humans should develop a wide range of skills and understanding for no other reason than to become more rounded individuals. Generations ago this was the norm. The building which now houses the Tesco in Bentley was originally built as a theatre by the community themselves. People would have pianos in their front gardens so that people could learn music and rehearse plays which would be performed at the theatre. Sometimes betterment led to better local entertainment, sometimes it helped vulnerable people in an era before the Welfare State. The more you know and the more practical you are, the better equipped you are to provide solutions to problems in your community. From cooperatives, to libraries to building societies, these were all originally created as grassroots solutions in impoverished communities. Nowadays even the institutions which are paid to promote art, culture, education and support of the vulnerable do little to nurture grassroots development in our communities. We need to create spaces where people can experiment and nurture new skills. We hope that BUF’s Academy Of Being will be a step in the right direction. But even if it just ends up being a bunch of Donny residents having a good time trying new things and meeting new friends, then that in itself is not a bad thing.

Hello it’s Doncopolitan! 

Doncopolitan is currently being funded by Arts Council England Emergency Covid-19 fund, which is enabling us to develop our print magazine and festival into an online format and pay local artists and writers to feature on our site. We want to continue to develop this once the funding has ended. We want to create paid opportunities for artists to write and create on their own terms. We are reaching out to you as a regular reader to ask if you could become a patron of our work. Becoming a Patreon is really simple; you can pay as little as £3 per month which will allow us to continue to be an independent voice for our town.

Find out more about becoming a Patreon here.

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