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Meet the Denver family learning to live off-grid, complete with a compost toilet




West Norfolk has a wealth of natural beauty spots, from it's coasts to the countryside.

But tucked away in Denver, near Downham, is a very unique piece of land that one family is using to get back to their wild side.

Fen Zen, a CIC (community interest company)run by former policewoman and artist Tabitha Nolan and her partner Benson invites the public to join the family in their pursuit of an off-grid sustainable lifestyle.

Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429381)
Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429381)

The pair have even constructed a compost toilet, for those wishing to have the I'm a Celebrity experience.

She laughed: "Don't worry we don't use that compost on the veg!"

Instead, the home-made fertilizer can be used on the trees, which have been planted all around the site.

Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429413)
Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429413)

Benson is a roofer by day but comes home to tend to the land which is home to a flock of chickens and a pair of adopted goats.

The animals are doted upon by their two daughters Bambi and Bonnie.

Both children seem at ease with the livestock, not displaying the usual signs of trepidation seen by youngsters, an indication that the wild life suits them well.

The meadow is also home to an abundance of wildlife such as: Buzzards, ducks, swans owls and deer.

Ms Nolan said: "It's all about getting back to our roots as human beings, we do a variety of things here for customers and many bring their children, who love running around the fields and exploring."

Ms Nolan has hosted retreats, mothers circles and delivers organic vegetable boxes to customers.

An array of treats and retreats at Fen Zen CREDIT Tabitha Nolan (49429545)
An array of treats and retreats at Fen Zen CREDIT Tabitha Nolan (49429545)

The businesswoman sells home-made hedgerow ketchup, eggs and even beauty products made from the clay found under the land.

However she is keen to point out that her entrepreneurial ventures are in balance with mother nature.

She said: "I want to keep it small, I don't want to take too much from the land, it has to be sustainable."

Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429421)
Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429421)

When asked why she decided to stop policing in favour of creating Fen Zen the mother of five said: "It's something I want to do, and I believe we can live sustainably. It takes a lot of work. We recycle everything and live with the planet in mind. We re-purpose items used for landfill and live off the land, nature has always been close to my heart."

Mother's circles and camp-fires are held in a beautiful wooden roundhouse which Benson built with his own hands.

Fen Zen is a one stop shop for those wishing to get away from it all and relax in the tranquillity of nature.

With the "staycation" becoming popular due to pandemic travel restrictions a retreat in a bell tent is just what tourists seem to be looking for.

An array of treats and retreats at Fen Zen CREDIT Tabitha Nolan (49429549)
An array of treats and retreats at Fen Zen CREDIT Tabitha Nolan (49429549)

People travel from far and wide to experience retreats and overnight stays in a tent, many waking up to the glow of sunrise across the field.

Ms Nolan said: "We host nurture days, which teach people to love themselves, and much more, both children and adults love it here."

Looking around, it's easy to see why.

Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429432)
Fen Zen in Denver, a retreat into nature CREDIT Steven Hewitt (49429432)

There is a refreshingly notable absence of cumbersome technology, wires and not a television screen in sight.

To book a stay or workshop at Fen Zen or see their range of products head to their Facebook page or website fenzen.co.uk.

An array of treats and retreats at Fen Zen CREDIT Tabitha Nolan (49429539)
An array of treats and retreats at Fen Zen CREDIT Tabitha Nolan (49429539)


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