I’ve set up these old Metfield Stores pages (which have been dormant for many years) on the day after Martin Wolfe died. Martin and Ann were the corner stones of Metfield Stores early days, with their vision, support, and practical help (Ann was responsible for the Volunteer rota for years). This was exemplified in their invitation to us all to come to Wakelyns once a year on Apple Day (traditionally October 21st), which became part of our village calendar, involving locals and Londoners, poets and passers by.
Above a gift of a card and a book presented to Ann by Linda on behalf of Metfield Stores 2010.
The letter I wrote to Martin, copied below, explains some of Martin and Ann’s involvement. The rest is in the photographs and the text from the old Metfield web pages.
East Lodge, Beccles Road, Holton, Suffolk, IP19 8NQ
Dear Martin Diversity Wolfe
Here I am, sitting in my wood cabin, door open, bird song reaching in, outside trees still naked but about to burst out, and here I am trying to get my mind around you not being around forever, and perhaps not long. I know it’s irrational, we are all mortal and you are a fine age you have lived and continue to live a rich and DIVERSE life, fulfilling, creative and inspiring.
Indeed you are one of the corner jig saw puzzle pieces that influenced my life to buy this woodland 5 years ago, so here I am.
I first met you in Metfield, most memorably that dark winter evening when we, a group of local people who felt passionately about the future of the village shop, (Caroline Biggins, James Weeden, Gill and Peter Wells) collected around your table at Wakelyns to discuss the possibility of my buying the village shop at auction. I’d just sold Half Moon, deliberately raising the anchor on England to set sail and perhaps settle in India. Could I, instead, buy the shop for the village? The auction would be in a months time.
‘But I am leaving for India in 2 weeks’, I said
‘You don’t need to be here’, said Ann.
In that moment I felt superfluous (by dint of circumstance of money and desire born in India), except as a cog in a greater wheel. and that’s how it was from that moment on.
You and Ann were the inspiring cornerstones that gave gravity, experience and above all vision to this new direction and enterprise.
Remember those years of Apple Days? When poets, friends, strangers, locals, Londoners walked across clay fields though hazel groves into the apple orchard you’d planted in 1994, (I think even before you’d settled here). There we all saw there was a different way – different to the chemical, industrial, mono culture of traditional farming, and that way was Alleys and Diversity as we meandered down North South axis greenhouse warm fields with you asking ‘Shall I talk for 30 minutes, 4 hours or a week? All of us were nourished as much by your vision as the Egremont Russett and each of us walked away forward into our lives, and in many diverse ways spread this seed. As you once said, the doing of this Agroforestry farm had far more to influence than hundreds of scientific papers. Yes, even the Archers eventually caught you up, to which you commented: ‘what with that and the wheat population progress, I’m almost starting to feel mainstream…. which won’t do at all!’
This wood in which I sit is one such seed. It both engulfs and nurtures me, I learn much from it, and in these divisive Brexit days, find harmony and happiness here. Forest School, begun in September last year, flourishes and all that you taught me on Apple days, or walking the dogs around the land, comes through me to these kids. Your easy humour along with your serious rigour, both informed by your vision, kept the long view. Diversity is your middle name.
I wish you well, and send you love, and thank you.
Martin in the woodland for my 60th birthday December 2017
While writing these pages I came across this ‘story of Wakelyns‘, beautifully filmed and captured in winter 2018.
East Anglian Daily Times tribute