How can we stay happy when there’s so much uncertainty around? The answer is to cultivate yourself like a garden, and grow your own wellbeing by learning from nature.

This unique book shows how you can use gardening methods such as composting, mulching, and crop rotation to cultivate human nature, too. A gardener applies skills like observation, patience and creativity — and you can adapt them to deal with daily stresses and big issues such as climate change. 

Natural Happiness is a simple, practical guide that supports people in their personal lives, in their work, in their communities and in making sense of wider issues: it’s all in Alan’s new book, see more here.

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Alan Heeks is a writer, pioneer and group leader with a passion for wellbeing, resilience, sustainability, and how we can learn about them from nature. Over the past 20 years, he has created two pioneering education centres where people can learn from nature: a conservation woodland and an organic farm, where he has led many groups, and which have inspired his books. His work is currently focused in three main areas:

  • Natural Happiness: use organic gardening skills to cultivate yourself: Alan’s fourth book, to be published March 2024, shows how people can cultivate their own happiness through increasingly stormy weather, using parallels with organic gardening and farming, such as composting, mulching, and co-creating. See more here.
  • Seeding our Future: This non-profit project is working with communities, individuals and front-line services to develop the capacities for super-resilience and deep adaptation which we will all need in the years ahead to face climate change and other major challenges.  For more information click here.
  • Creative Ageing: Alan has been exploring this theme since his own midlife crisis in his early fifties. He has co-led many groups, and has explored this theme in his writing. This includes his third book, Not Fade Away – staying happy when you’re over 64!, and his second book, Out of the Woods: a guide to life for men beyond 50. For more about Not Fade Away click here, for blogs on this theme click here, for more about Out of the Woods click here.

Learning Natural Happiness

Since 1990, Alan has initiated and led the creation of two pioneering land-based education centres: a 130-acre organic farm and a 70-acre conservation woodland.

Through years of involvement with organic farming, gardening and sustainable forestry, Alan realised that organic eco-systems are a powerful model for human wellbeing and resilience. His first book explored this model for people and teams at work: The Natural Advantage: Renewing Yourself – click here for more about the book.

Alan’s fourth book, published in March 2024, explores this approach using gardening as the model: Natural Happiness: use organic gardening skills to cultivate yourself shows how gardening methods like composting, mulching, as well as observation and co-creativity, can help people to grow their own happiness too. To see more click here.

Creative Ageing

There are 22 million people over 50 in the UK: that’s one third of the whole population. Yet we all live in a culture that idealises youth. The midlife years, say 45 to 65, and the ‘early older’ years, say 65 to 75 plus, are times of huge change. These life stages can offer us new freedoms and choices, but often bring losses and challenges that need facing.

Alan has been exploring these issues since his own midlife crisis began with the end of his first, 28-year marriage at the age of 49. He has written two books on creative ageing, and has co-led groups at the Findhorn Foundation, Hazel Hill Wood and elsewhere.

Alan’s second book, Out of the Woods: a guide to life for men beyond 50, has a lot of useful material for men and women, age 45 to 75 plus: to see more, click here. For Alan’s blogs on creative ageing, click here. For book information see below.

Not Fade Away – Staying happy when you’re over 64!

The Baby Boomer Guide to Creative Ageing

This book is dedicated to the spirit of the 1960’s: may all of us find the love, peace and freedom that our generation dreamed of then.

To find out more click here.

Out of the Woods: A guide to life for men beyond 50Out of the Woods

Midlife and beyond can be the most fun a man has ever had… but when the roles that define men dissolve – work, marriage, fatherhood – it’s a time of huge possibility and freedom, but also a time when it’s easy to feel lost, with nowhere to turn.

This book is a guide for the maturing man: it gathers the best wisdom and experience on enjoying these years to the full, and on the skills you need to handle the losses, shipwrecks and crises – and find your way out of the woods. It offers insights, inspiration, practical advice and resources for further help. Many women have also found it helpful, both for themselves, and in understanding the men around them.

For more information about the book and contents click here.

Hazel Hill Wood

Alan in front of the Forest Ark at Hazel Hill Wood
Alan in front of the Forest Ark at Hazel Hill Wood

Hazel Hill is a magical 70-acre conservation woodland education centre near Salisbury, which Alan helped to create after buying the wood in 1987. It has been used by a wide variety of personal development, education and retreat groups over the years, including many groups co-led by Alan himself. In 2015, Alan gifted the ownership of the wood to a new registered charity, Hazel Hill Trust. To see more about the wood and the calendar of events click here.