Soil and Soul is a small teaching collective currently made up of Lee Jenkins and Ben Margolis. We formed the collective in 2014 with a mission to share our passion for permaculture with others in Norfolk and further afield. We have a wide range of experience in many fields related to permaculture but have a particular focus on finding ways to reconnect with nature and to build strong and resilient communities.
Our philosophy is rooted in three pillars
- Resilience – for both individuals and communities learning to cope with challenging and changing situations
- Community – ultimately we all rely on our communities for our own resilience and we believe that the rebuilding of communities is crucial for our future prosperity
- Empowerment – many people feel disempowered by our current economic, political and education systems. We believe that rediscovering our collective power as a community is vital
Lee began his love for natural systems and patterns as a small child exploring with a compelling fascination the rock pools and coast of Wales with his dad. Later graduating to ride the coastal waves under the mighty power of the ocean. After gaining his Master in Fine Art he began to hit the fast paced world of an international photographer clocking up an impressive carbon footprint as he worked for 15 years. Then spent 5 years travelling throughout Europe and Asia slowing down observing himself and the wondrous world around him whilst exploring varied cultures, traditional & shamanic practices and ceremonies. Studying many limbs of yoga and meditation, enriched along the way by the fascinating communities and people he discovered.
Permaculture has shown Lee how to create a "poly-income" allowing me to live on the farm with a rich and full life placing health and well-being at the forefront. Spending his time mixed between practicing Rolfing® Structural Integration Lee's Rolfing® website (a kind of body based permaculture) and spending time on the farm and in the farm, alongside teaching and sharing what has been handed down to him through all his teachers and mentors. Lee continues to share and learn with others as a permaculture Diploma tutor with apprentices in the uk and internationally..
Ben started out as a badminton player playing for the national squad before spending two years living in China and Nepal which opened his eyes to issues of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. More positively, in Nepal, Ben lived with an amazing community of people whose connection with nature and with each other he had not found in the UK.
After completing a Masters in International Development, Ben spent a number of years leading civil society coalitions campaigning on the UN Millennium Development Goals and on the UN climate change negotiations.
After becoming frustrated and disillusioned by the lack of progress in the negotiations, Ben and his wife Sophie moved to The Grange in Norfolk which is a beautiful 10 acre site centred on a large former rectory. The Grange welcomes survivors of torture and other highly marginalized groups to become part of the family on therapeutic breaks, holidays and skills retreats. The Grange is one of the first permaculture demonstration sites in Norfolk and hosts a number of permaculture and related courses.
Why Soil and Soul?
We believe that the disconnection between the soil and our souls is a cause of many of the ills of our time. We have been inspired by the work of Alastair McIntosh who wrote the extraordinary book Soil and Soul and would like to thank him for his support for us to call our collective by this name.