For 15 years we toured Swamp Animal Free Circus across Europe. As the new millennium started we enjoyed successes at Edinburgh Festival and started touring theatres with shows about the theft of oxygen and the threats from genetic engineering.
Our double decker bus, a vegan circus restaurant with famous chefs such as Liz Cooke (famous for food charts), was a big hit in France where vegan food was scarce.
We returned from France to our roots in Cornwall and whilst performing at Falmouth Marine festival, we were offered land for sale with fresh water springs. Water becomes a very high priority with travelling folk and so land with spring water was a heaven! Chyan is Cornish for ‘home’ and so the circus came home to roost and start growing…
In 1998, Chyan farm was at first full of brightly painted circus trucks and living trailers. Due to planning laws and pressure from frightened neighbours, these were retired and slowly replaced with tractors, farm trailers and mowers. Land was cleared, Cornish Apple trees planted and polytunnels erected. The farm entered into organic conversion under the eyes of The Soil Association. Fresh vegetables, elderflower cordial, comfrey manure and people to help work the land were first priorities.
We discovered that the local community wanted access to organic farming and courses on growing and permaculture. We gave 2.2 acres to the local community in trust as organic land for projects. Allotments, cob and straw buildings, a wind farm, children’s play areas and sculptures emerged and over 10 years later, Chyan Community Field is a vibrant, well used project with visitors from near and far. Courses include fruit tree pruning and grafting, herbal medicines, growing winter veg, composting, cob building, micro-generation, dowsing, organic dyes, willow basket making, living willow sculptures, polytunnel growing as well as lots of community events.
In 2010 we built the first earthship- style build in Cornwall as Chyan’s solar powered washhouse and at present a Cornish Roundhouse is taking shape. We have 10 residents who exchange their hours working at Chyan for living space and we are currently looking at taking on a land manager.
Apple juice started production in 2009 and is now for sale in local shops , markets and at events. This is accompanied by projects in schools and the hire of milling and juicing equipment to other projects. The new apple barn will be used to develop the fruit production and more juices, jams and chutneys. The new vegan café in Penryn aims to use produce from Chyan and other local organic farms nearby.
Chyan welcomes visitors and those wishing to use the centre for courses and gatherings.