Feelgood factor of Nature Therapy

Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm in South Galway with her dog Minnie. Nature Therapy is
Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm in South Galway with her dog Minnie. Nature Therapy is "about the pleasurable experiences around nature, sustaining us and opening us up to the healing power of nature,” she says. Photo: Joe O'Shaughnessy.

Lifestyle –  Judy Murphy meets Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm who promotes the values of a simple life alongside nature

In a society where most of us spend our lives rushing around, usually glued to our mobile devices, Nature Therapy can help us slow down and become aware of ourselves and the world around us.

So says Marion Edler from Crann Óg Eco Farm in South Galway, who will be speaking on the value of Nature Therapy at the Burrenbeo Learning Landscape Symposium, which is taking place in and around Kinvara in early March.

Nature and Forest Therapist Marion will also be leading a walk in the Burren where people will be encouraged to tune into their own bodies by fully engaging with nature.

German-born Marion who runs Crann Óg with her husband, Flor Burke, has been promoting the value of simple living for more than two decades, since she first moved to Drummin at the foothills of the Siabh Aughty mountains.

Their 14-acre eco-farm in the hills has been awarded gold-star status by Eco Tourism Ireland, the internationally recognised accreditation body for sustainable tourism and it’s easy to see why. From the pond area, which Flor and Marion created using a nearby well, to the willows that help drain the naturally boggy soil, they have worked with the natural environment to create a holding that supports their small community – mostly this consists of family members and their co-workers, Paul and Marla, who also live onsite. Volunteers visit regularly, too, wanting to learn more about eco-farming and skills such as living willow sculpting.

Crann Óg has been welcoming tourists for many years, mostly people who want to reconnect with nature. And they do so in an eco-friendly way. The farm’s ‘longhouse’ which can sleep 12, has solar pipes on its roof that provide hot water in summer. In winter, a stove in the longhouse connects with the pipe system, which means there’s always hot water. The compost toilets come complete with instructions and, says Marion, they work brilliantly once people follow these.

For Marion, who lived off-grid for six years after moving to Drummin, the message is that “people can live happily with less”. And with practically everything in Crann Óg being made from recycled material, they are proof that it works. Comfort hasn’t been sacrificed either.

During the summer, in a field away from the main house, guests can also be accommodated in yurts and tepee style tents while having access to an octagonal communal shelter known as the Hogan. This tent, modelled on those of the Native American Navajo, is made from old wood pallets and canvas from a defunct marquee. It has a large circular opening at the apex, so guests can stargaze. Directly below is a circular fireplace, made from the metal rim of a tractor wheel. Even in heavy rain it’s dry inside, according to Marion. It’s where they hold storytelling nights, hosted by Flor, where guests are welcome to share their experiences.

Crann Óg’s location in South Galway is ideal for natural experiences, adds Flor. The Burren is 15 minutes in one direction, while Portumna and Lough Derg are in another. East Clare and its rich musical heritage is just over the mountain, and all around there are connections with Lady Gregory and WB Yeats as well as with Edward Martyn, another key figure in the Celtic revival, whose patronage was responsible for stained glass windows in many local churches, most notably St Brendan’s in Loughrea.

And, for people who want to engage close up with farming, there are ducks and ponies to be fed as well as pet sheep.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.