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Couple who have welcomed 3,500 to their talking circles appeal for help to rebuild nurturing Nest in Little Hadham

An award-winning couple dedicated to holistic care are appealing for help to bring their support circles to Little Hadham.

River and Kimmie Taylor are behind The Nest CIC, a community interest company which acts as a “green social prescribing service”.

Bishop’s Stortford residents got a first taste of their alternative approach to life when their vegan and vegetarian food truck the Nestaurant served up a range of tasty and healthy treats at the Rose and Crown in Station Road, where they are regular vendors on Tuesday evenings.

The field off Chapel Lane in Little Hadham where River and Kimmie want to build their new yurt
The field off Chapel Lane in Little Hadham where River and Kimmie want to build their new yurt

Their culinary skills are also in demand every weekend at Van Hage Garden Centre at Great Amwell, and sales help fund the couple’s main endeavour, their community support hub, The Nest. The relationship between their two projects is symbiotic.

“The Nestaurant is a great way of connecting with the community and serving healthy food,” said River. “Some people come to buy a meal and end up opening up about how they are struggling.”

After a turbulent 2023, the couple are desperate to get The Nest back on track after they were forced to leave its base in the back garden of their home in Wareside and then plans to move to Braughing faltered.

River and Kimmie Taylor with their vegan and vegetarian food truck, The Nestaurant
River and Kimmie Taylor with their vegan and vegetarian food truck, The Nestaurant

They were offered a lifeline in the form of a derelict five-acre smallholding at Valley Fields, off Chapel Lane in Little Hadham, and believe they have found a “forever home” for themselves, rescue dog Marley, the rest of their menagerie of animals and The Nest.

River is a former creative director who went “suited and booted” to a “high-profile job” in London every day “dealing with corporate people” while Kimmie worked in the mental health sector, using her cooking skills as therapy. They are buzzing with plans for the plot.

But their priority is to set up their new yurt. The traditional round tent was bought thanks to a grant from the Stevenage Suicide Prevention Team, to recognise the value of their group therapy.

River said its circular shape, representing community and equality, was crucial to their work creating a healing space where everyone feels safe. Before it can be erected, the couple need to build a base and are appealing for 100 linear metres of 6x2 CLS (Canadian lumber standard) timber to kickstart the project.

Marley and we: River and Kimmie with their rescue dog Marley
Marley and we: River and Kimmie with their rescue dog Marley

River said the construction team had already been recruited – “really skilled tradesmen” helped by The Nest who want to show their gratitude by ensuring its future.

The couple have been running talking circles since 2018 and won a Hertfordshire County Council award in 2022 for their commitment to the community, which was particularly critical during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their ethos is simple: “We also hold space for a one-to-one basis for anyone feeling lost and also suicidal. We are both passionate to make sure that any person that comes to The Nest has the best support and aftercare to give them a sense of purpose and to go on to live their best life.”

Kimmie feeding “the girls” – ultimately she hopes to set up a sustainable community café
Kimmie feeding “the girls” – ultimately she hopes to set up a sustainable community café

Together, River and Kimmie have welcomed 1,700 men and 1,800 women to The Nest since it began.

To restart their circles – for women on Wednesdays and men on Thursdays – and to add a youth session, they also need to set up composting toilets for visitors. They have a GoFundMe appeal to cover this and other costs at https://www.gofundme.com/f/sw9c2-rebuild-the-nest.

The land is essentially a blank canvas, with no infrastructure bar a water supply, but the couple are excited rather than daunted by its transformation.

River said: “We always knew it would come with challenges but we’re loving every bit of it – we’re more than happy here. We feel happy every day we wake up.”

Once the yurt and toilets are completed, the couple want to build a polytunnel for growing fruit and vegetables. They believe cultivating crops can be a useful therapy for some of the people The Nest helps, and sustainable production of food for the Nestaurant is key to their vision for its future.

Kimmie’s experience of catering and mental health care has emphasised how closely “mood and food” are linked. Ultimately they would also like to set up a small community café, utilising home-grown crops and surplus supermarket food. “We would love people to come along and get involved as we evolve that,” said River.

Martin Slade, who has been helping the couple get The Nest up and running at its new home, was in no doubt about the value of their work, which he said had helped more than 3,000 vulnerable people.

“They’re struggling massively to make ends meet to get The Nest up and running at the new site at Valley Fields,” he said. “Without outside help, our community will lose a unique service that this modern-day life urgently needs.”

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