My name is Grant Sherman
When I was one, my family moved to Ilfracombe from Glasgow. They wanted to find somewhere green for my sister and I to grow-up. I remember blue seas and green fields, walks around Cairn, Hillsborough, Capstone, and the Torrs. I remember walks on Braunton Burrows on Exmoor, walks through the woods at Watersmeet and Heddon's Mouth. For my school friends, the coast between Ilfracombe and Lee was our playground. I remember dark skies and twinkling stars.
I studied Astrophysics at Cardiff University, where I also learnt to work in the Student Union bar. It was the start of twenty years affected by alcohol. I failed my degree, but an NVQ in Environmental Conservation (in North Devon) brought me back on track. I retook and passed my degree, I obtained an MSc in Ecology at Warwick University. During this course I had the opportunity to meet Vandana Shiva. But a summer bar brought back the drink problems.
Nature healed me
After eleven years working as barman at the Collingwood Hotel, I needed a change. A day trip to Lundy was the start of thirteen years living and working on Lundy. Lundy healed me. I sobered-up and met my wife. I started a ten season study of seabirds (Ecology of Common Guillemots on Lundy: Chick Provisioning 2008-2019). And, in the last few years, I've followed the School Strike for Climate on social media.
Shelley and I moved back to mainland Devon from Lundy at the end of 2019. I was looking for work but I was also looking for green events in Devon. I am a member of the Lundy Field Society, the Devonshire Association, and the RSPB. I knew these organisations had walks and talks - but I found it difficult to find details about these events online. It was the beginning of the idea that sprung into this.
We moved to Chulmleigh in February 2020, we were looking for somewhere close to the Tarka Line. Somewhere close to my mum in Ilfracombe and also close to Exeter where I was looking for work. In twelve years of living on Lundy we hadn't needed a car, so we are trying to live without a car to help the planet. The bus and train links from Chulmleigh seemed sufficient for our needs. We knew people in Chulmleigh from our years on Lundy and I saw an article about Sustainable Chulmleigh in Molton Monthly.
Then coronavirus struck
We had time to think about how we should be living our life. Should I continue searching for a job that might mean four hours commuting to-and-from Exeter? Could I turn an idea into a business? We planted vegetable seeds in the garden and planted the seed of a business on the internet.
The hartstongue fern grows readily in the woods and hedges of Devon. Once you have be shown the plant you'll see it on any walk around the county. We found one struggling in the corner of our greenhouse, we transferred it into a pot and named it Fernleigh (see photo).
To me, it shows the need to talk from the heart. To speak out for the small voices of the county that raised me. To speak for Devon's nature and Devon's people.
Postscript: Devon and its Ferns
My mum has a copy of Charlotte Chanter's 1856 book Ferny Combes: A Ramble After Ferns in the Glens and Valleys of Devonshire. It was the first book to draw public attention to the great diversity of ferns to be found in Devonshire. Her book focused mainly on ferns discoverable within an easy distance of the coast. Like other botanizing authors of this period, she encouraged people to dig up rare ferns, contributing to the increasing rarity of certain Devon ferns. Her brother Charles coined the term pteridomania for this Victorian craze for ferns.
Wikipedia - Asplenium scolopendrium, known as hart's-tongue or hart's-tongue fern (syn. Phyllitis scolopendrium) is a fern in the genus Asplenium, of the Northern Hemisphere