Alan Heeks is a conservationist, author and social entrepreneur who has over 20 years’ experience helping people to grow their wellbeing through contact with Nature.
He left a successful business career to set up a 130-acre organic farm and education centre, and now runs the Seeding our Future project, which helps local communities and others to build resilience in the face of climate change. Alan and his wife, Linda, are keen gardeners, and grow much of their food in their garden at home in Wales.
Alan also runs workshops on developing personal resilience using organic gardening parallels to help people handle the stresses of modern life, including climate change. His approach grows from leading two nature-based education charities, Magdalen Farm and Hazel Hill Wood.
Alan comments, “It was the methods in my Natural Happiness book that got me through burnout and midlife crises, and I’ve seen them help hundreds of people in workshops I’ve run.”
“I hope that my experience, and the many things I’ve learned from others, can be of help through my books and this website.” – Alan Heeks
Natural Happiness is not just a book: it’s a body of wisdom, a set of skills and practical insights, available in various forms, including workshops (an hour to a weekend), webinars, videos, blogs and resource guides. You’ll find more about these elsewhere on this website. Alan’s new book, Natural Happiness, is intended as a focal point and catalyst to share this approach more widely. Here are three ways you could be involved:
As an individual: check the Events section for open workshops. For tailored workshops or coaching sessions, see more here.
As an organisation or network: we can offer talks or workshops, online or in person, tailored to a wide range of groups, including: – horticultural societies and other gardening groups interested in using gardening skills to cultivate personal wellbeing – community groups wanting to raise resilience skills, or explore climate change responses – public service teams (NHS and others) wanting to reduce burnout and handle stress better – work teams (business and non-profit) keen to raise their human sustainability.
As an Advocate: helping to deliver workshops, talks, webinars, etc. See more below.
If you’d like to explore a tailored event, please contact Alan.
Become a Natural Happiness Advocate
To support the launch of the book, and widen awareness of this unique approach, Alan would like to train and work with a few Natural Happiness Advocates. The key parts of this role are:
Facilitating short, interactive workshops, 1-2 hours, in person or online.
Giving short presentations or talks (30-45 minutes), online or in person.
Outreach work to find groups who’d like a workshop or talk.
As the list above shows, there are many kinds of group who could be interested, and you would be free to focus on those where you have most experience and contacts.
The launch of the book will be in March 2024, and will be supported by a promotional campaign involving a specialist non-fiction book publicist (focussing on magazines and other print media), a push with social media and bloggers, and support from the publisher, O Books, an imprint of John Hunt Publishing. This should produce enquiries for workshops and talks, which will mostly be passed to Advocates, with Alan doing a few himself.
The main qualities you’ll need are good communication and facilitation skills, enthusiastic and informed about the Natural Happiness approach, and able to prospect for clients, although some leads should arise from the website, social media and press coverage. Interest and experience in gardening would be beneficial.
The book will be published in the UK and USA, and available internationally, so Alan is interested in working with Advocates in the UK, North America and elsewhere.
You will receive free training, and will keep 90% of all fees you receive, with a 10% royalty to Alan. You’ll also receive a 45% margin on all copies of the book that you sell. If some events you run are free of charge, Alan will pay you to deliver them.
The present is already so uncertain and demanding that most of us don’t want to consider the future. But surely the pressures and changes we face now are likely to continue, and increase? The aim of the Seeding our Future project is to identify and share ways that individuals, communities and frontline services in the UK can grow their resilience skills and wisdom to thrive and adapt to meet future pressures positively, especially climate change.
Hazel Hill Wood is a beautiful, secluded 70-acre wood and sustainable retreat/education centre, seven miles from Salisbury, which offers unique scope for people to deepen their connection with nature and learn about living renewably. The wood hosts a range of workshops, retreats, and conservation events, including many drawing on Alan’s Natural Happiness model. It has off-grid residential accommodation for up to 34 people, and is available for group bookings.
Hazel Hill was owned and stewarded by Alan Heeks from 1987. He led the creation of education facilities and programmes there since 1993, and has co-led many groups there, especially about learning from Nature about resilience and wellbeing. In June 2015, Alan gifted ownership of the wood to a new registered charity, the Hazel Hill Trust.
For a fuller overview of the project, and information about how to make a booking, click below.
Magdalen is a 132-acre organic working farm between Bridport and Chard, on the Dorset-Somerset border. It is a registered educational charity offering programmes and facilities for a wide range of groups, with both a dedicated residential centre and a traditional farmhouse, which can be used separately, or together for large groups. Alan founded the project in 1990, and was a trustee until 2002. Alan’s experience of leading the conversion of Magdalen Farm to a mixed organic system was the inspiration for his Natural Happiness approach.
The Threshold Centre at Cole Street Farm near Gillingham, North Dorset, is a unique pioneering co-housing community and sustainable education centre, which aims to demonstrate a way of life which is more green, affordable, and neighbourly. Cohousing combines small, self-contained homes with shared facilities: at the Threshold Centre, these include the shared courtyard garden, market garden with polytunnel, and shared rooms for eating, relaxing, and guest visitors. The Threshold Centre was founded by Alan Heeks, who lived there for the first 5 years of the project.