A NEW events venue with a difference is set to be inaugurated next week, as the alternative learning organisation On The Hill finishes the Cob Barn.

From start to finish, the Cob Barn’s creation has reflected the values, beliefs and practices of the many people who contributed to its construction.

On The Hill is a ‘community interest company’, located on Oxen Park Farm in the Teign Valley. It provides land-based and experiential learning opportunities to a wide range of people, including school groups, university students and families.

‘On The Hill is all about outdoor alternative learning and teaching children about the different choices they can make,’ explained Jo Clark, the Director and Programme Lead.

‘Then woven in there is education around land, land management and regenerative agriculture, which is completely absent from today’s schools,’ added Rosie Fellows, a fellow director.

This philosophy of contribution and choice is baked into the very walls of the Cob Barn, which has been evolving from a cow shed since 2017.

‘The cob walls have been built by 100s of little hands, teenagers and adults,’ said Rosie, ‘within some areas of the cob walls, little time capsules were built into them for people to find at some point in the future. Who knows who will see them.’

Jo continued: ‘We’ve built the barn slowly with many different groups of people. Everyone can see their contribution.

‘When you look at the cob walls, you can see the layers, each group that came built a layer of cob. Everything was shaped and designed by hand. I’ve worked out that roughly 1,200-1,500 people were involved in building this place.’

‘We’re all sharing the vision, they’re being brought into the project and being given the opportunity to give a contribution to something that we’re putting together for the greater good.’

All that work is finally coming to a crescendo, as after six years, the barn is almost ready to open its doors. Rosie said: ‘It’s a wonderful light airy space with so much potential. We’re just getting the space ready for the first production, all it needs is the doors.’

The first show set to hit the Cob Barn is ‘Walking. Falling. Getting Up... Again…’, a play directed by Ben Yeger that explores mental health issues affecting men. It will be shown in the evenings of May 5, 6 and 7. However, with the barn finished, this is just the beginning.

Rosie said: ‘We’ve got a vision for the cob barn not to be a busy curation of programmes, but throughout the year we want all kinds of events. I think the Teign Valley needs it. We want it to be a community events venue to show off all kinds of things.

‘The Cob Barn will be used for all the activities and meetings we have. We’ll use it for theatre, music, dance, arts; events that chime with the ethos of the place. Now we have the space, we can really think about what we can do.’