The story behind
In 2016 broadcaster, beekeeper, speaker and award-winning author, Jez Rose, made the bold decision to test his theories on how human psychology is influenced by greater connection with the natural world. He moved from a suburban three bedroom semi and bought a dilapidated 19th Century farmhouse, originally built in 1850 and surrounded by more than 400 acres of arable Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire countryside. The farm was a blank canvas for Jez and his wife when they first moved in, establishing a base for their honey farm. Alongside the farm runs a fresh water dyke, designated a Site of Significant Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of the naturally occurring wildlife (including fresh water mussels and water voles) and with the nearest city, Peterborough, creating the UK’s environment capital, the farm is ideally situated.
Inspired by the purchase of the farm and watching too many episodes of Gardener’s World, Jez renovated the farm and gardens, which are now also home to chickens, honey bees and a variety of British wildlife including more than 30 different species of British wild birds. Going one step further in testing his theories on the cognitive and emotional impact of nature in the working environment, Jez launched an initial 2 year research project, The Good Life Project. With support from broadcasters Kate Humble and Adam Frost and the Soil Association and sponsors BJ Sherriff, Vigo Presses and Gabriel Ash – the project is evidencing the cognitive and emotional impact of nature on health, wellbeing and behaviour.
The gardens include a small orchard with wild meadow, jewel garden, herb and vegetable gardens, rose beds, magnolia courtyard and smaller feature beds, largely all planted to provide pollen for bees. You can read about their journey renovating the farm, becoming certified as organic by the Soil Association and the joy, obsession and mud in Jez’s blogs here.
The farm is not open to the public except by workshop booking.
About the Research
Since the late 1970's the impact of nature on people has been relatively well documented; just some of the many benefits of being in the presence of, or simply viewing nature, include reductions in stress, anxiety, blood pressure, anger and exhaustion, whilst increasing energy levels, cognitive functioning and happiness. The Good Life Project exists to demonstrate the efficacy of restorative environments and to encourage corporate responsibility in this area.
Our on-going research, and collating of others’ research, into the cognitive and emotional impact of nature in the working environment provides real-world, evidence-based suggestions, supported by data, for how organisations can achieve this with simple and cost-effective strategies.
Despite evidence supporting the positive benefits of the exposure to nature, many organisations still prohibit personalising desk space, the presence of plants and displaying pictures and posters, with little consideration to workplace layout to maximise available views, for example.
According to research published by Persil/Unilever* in 2016, 75% of children in the United Kingdom spend less time outside than prison inmates, yet it is nature that ties and binds us to our planet.
You can get involved in a number of ways: individuals can attend our information days and workshops run at the farm and for organisations we offer assistance in introducing natural stimuli into working environments, monitoring staff responses, providing training, resources, guidance and support.
The Good Life Project’s research team includes broadcaster and speaker Jez Rose; cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Lynda Shaw; psychologist Elizabeth Gloyens; psychologist Professor Marc Salem and neuroscience consultant Amy Brann.
*Persil/Unilever, Singer, D. and Singer, J. Children and Nature 2016
Meet the Faculty
The Good Life Project research and advice faculty consists of some of the leading minds in psychology and behaviour, including:
Broadcaster and award-winning author specialising in behaviour change
DR. LYNDA SHAW, PHD
Cognitive neuroscientist specialising in emotion
PROFESSOR MARC SALEM, PHD
Psychologist specialising in behaviour planning
You can read about their journey renovating the farm, becoming certified as organic by the Soil Association and the joy, obsession and mud in Jez’s blogs here.
The farm is not open to the public except by course booking.
The Good Life Project is based on the site of a 160 year old farm in rural Cambridgeshire. We are working towards full accessibility for all people and passionately believe in an inclusive environment.
We have maintained concrete paths and laid sturdy, bound gravel paths, which are both level and compacted. Large areas are laid with gravel but we have installed cleared, wide paths suitable for wheelchairs and all steps, thresholds and ground level differences have ramps.
We have a reserved, clear and flat area in the car park that is adjacent to the clear path for maximum accessibility.
We will shortly be installing a purpose-built wheelchair-friendly composting toilet close to the barn where our workshops are run.
If you have any specific access requirements or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.