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Cabilla

MERLIN HANBURY TENISON

Looking to create a healthier vision for the future

Merlin Hanbury Tenison - Friend of Aubin - “Steward of the Land”

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The ancient upland hill farm of Cabilla has nestled in a valley on Bodmin Moor for over a thousand years. Up until the 60’s Cabilla was a fully diversified hill farm producing dairy, beef, sheep, pigs, chickens and a wide spectrum of crops. Like so many farms across the UK, the last 60 years have seen Cabilla channelled down an increasingly mono-culture path, until they only farmed one thing in order to maximise production. Crucially and sadly, this means losing a great deal of the biodiversity and ecosystem whilst degrading the general health and vibrancy of the land and soil.

Union Wax Jacket


Cabilla is at the beginning of an exciting new chapter in its journey to restore and rewild the land, the soil and the animals that live there. By inviting people to visit it can also rewild us as humans.

The Cabilla of today is looking to return to a diverse system, a return to the wilderness once ubiquitous across the UK. They are asking the questions, does it have to be a choice between farming, forestry or wilderness or can it not be a mixture of them all together? Would it work better in a way more synonymous with the past? Grazing cattle amongst oak tree plantations, increasing the number of species both animal and flora, producing less but infinitely better-quality produce. Incrementally improving the health of the land rather than degrading it and always asking - “How can we farm in a better way”.

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Farms are part of the ecosystem, part of the web of life

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Merlin grew up on the farm and always knew that his future lay in writing the next chapter for Cabilla. Following his time in the military and suffering from PTSD as well as becoming a father he put all his focus into his homeland. Inspired by the land, in particular the oak woodland which has robustly survived the last 300 years, his vision was to make a beautiful place for humans to come and stay and reconnect with themselves through nature. For people to simply leave Cabilla feeling better than when they arrived, improving human health both psychologically and physiologically.

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Together with his family Merlin considers himself a “steward of the land” with the responsibility to actively rewild and nurture their farmland back to life as a showcase to how it can be done. Merlin is currently running a scheme to reintroduce native animals that were driven out by humans and in so doing to return the ecosystem to its natural state. They have started with the Beaver, “undoubtedly the most fascinating and the most incredible animal that the British Isles should have, but (sadly) killed off”. Following the Beaver there are plans afoot to return the Pine Martin, Red Squirrel, Wild Cats, Bison….at this point Merlin becomes incredibly passionate and the whole purpose of Cabilla is shone a spotlight upon. To bring nature back.

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We are a part of nature not apart from nature

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Better is Greater Than More

Cabilla is a deeply special place, both environmentally and spiritually. The word Cabilla is ancient Cornish for ‘woollen cloak’. This is because the historic stewards of this farm had a duty to provide the Duke of Cornwall with a woollen cloak shorn from their finest sheep whenever he crossed the Tamar from Devon to Cornwall. The Atlantic squalls bring regular bracing rain to these valleys and this cloak would ensure that the Duke was always safe and warm while travelling his lands. They now dedicate themselves to making sure that all of the visitors to Cabilla are kept safe and warm in a similar way. Deep in the valley are 100 acres of temperate rainforest, one of the rarest environments on earth. The mycelial fungi that run through the soil and connect every tree together create a ‘wood wide web’ that allows the trees to share resources and communicate. If you are quiet when you wander through the forest you can even sometimes hear their underground whispers. There are many woods and forests in the UK and there are plans to plant many more. It sequesters more carbon, supports more life and is more nourishing for the soul. Over the next 60 years Cabilla will be tripling the size of their rainforest. It won’t be fast and it won’t be huge but better is greater than more.

If Aubin is all about slow fashion, Cabilla is all about slow farming and it is here that our shared philosophy of Better is Greater Than More becomes so fully and completely entwined and in tune. Merlin has based his whole concept for Cabilla on finding ways to farm in a better way rather than obsessing over producing more. Producing better quality meat, dairy and crops and offering us all a calm oasis to be fully immersed in nature. We excitedly look forward to seeing what this next chapter brings to Cabilla.

Visit www.cabillacornwall.com for more information about staying in one of their beautiful bell tents amongst woodland glen and their exciting rewilding projects.

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