Cotna Eco Retreat

Courses & Events

Cornwall Sustainability Award Winners 2016 – Taster Events!

Cotna Eco Retreat is offering a series of events and workshops run by winners of the Cornwall Sustainability Awards 2016. A unique opportunity to get some hands-on experience with some of Cornwall’s most innovative businesses!

Sunday 28th May: Mad About Seaweed!

Enjoy the feel of the sand between your toes, breathe the sea air and nourish your mind and body! A really exciting collaboration between Tim van Berkel, co-founder of the Cornish Seaweed Company, Winner of Best Contribution Towards Creating a Sustainable Food Economy – Food to Plate and Andrew Hoyle, of Gilly Beach Bakery and guest chef at Fat Hen Cookery School. Learn to identify edible seaweeds at low-tide on beautiful Vault Beach, Gorran Haven. Then come back to Cotna’s Straw-bale Barn kitchen to learn the nourishing and tasty secrets of seaweed cookery through demonstration, hands-on cooking and recipe ideas, with a delicious taster menu.

For details and advance bookings contact 01726 844867 or email us on

12-6pm £50 (max 12)


Cotna Sunday Sessions

These flexible learning sessions are an opportunity for us to share our food & growing experience from our 9 years at Cotna. They are created for 2 people or more, to fit in with all your other holiday activities. All sessions are experiential & practical, though we do also provide  recipe or information sheets.


Walk on the Wild Side

Walk the Cotna Eco Retreat circuit around our 14 acre valley with Sara & Dave, foraging seasonal delights as we go. Learn to identify foods in our hedgerows, woodland & fields. In Spring the bright early greens that fill our hungry gap: wild garlic, pennywort, field & wood sorrel, watercress, alexanders & primroses. In summer the ground ivy, bitter cress, pignut, comfrey shoots, hedge bedstraw, nettle heads. And in Autumn the berries, roots & seeds of the hedgerows; haw berries, burdock root, cleaver hogweed & alexander seeds. After foraging spend a couple of hours cooking up a storm in the kitchen with Sara, then sit down to a delicious feast, either a romantic one in your yurt or holiday barn – together with Sara & Dave in the farmhouse. You will learn to make delicious dishes such as pennywort canapés, fresh nettle tortellini with wild garlic butter, alexander risotto, flower & micro leaf salad, comfrey shoot curry, sloe chocolate or cleavers ice-cream. Sundays 3-9pm £35 per person



Family Forage & Pizza

Come on a children friendly foraging walk around Cotna fields & woodland. Gather pennywort, watercress, nettles and the eggs from the chickens & ducks. Make our own wild pizzas in the pizza oven at the end of the day. Even green dodgers may enjoy nettle pizza – yum! Sundays 3-8pm: £75 per family


Forest Ferreting About

Release your inner explorer and join us in the magical Cotna woodland for bug hunting, fire lighting, den building, woodland games & crafts, campfire cooking and lots of ferreting about! Led by experienced and Forest School qualified leader Sophie. Child-led and parent friendly, we welcome all ages (under 5’s accompanied by and adult please) to come and reconnect with our natural habitat and play around in the woods. Please wear waterproofs and wellies. Steep slopes and rough terrain are sadly not suitable for buggies. We’re at it in all weathers except high winds and thunderstorms so do leave your contact details in case we need to cancel! Sundays – small groups 10-12 : £20 per child / Regulars class 2-4pm: £5

“my favourite part was when we did forist school, so I deaply recommend it. There are lots of enjoyable walckes” Suki (8) “Forest school session with Sophie in the rain was wonderful – a great hit, with lots of fun had in 2 hours!!” (Mum)

Sourdough Bread made Easy

Sara learned sourdough bread making with Vicky from Vicky’s Bread, who supply bread from Helston to all over Cornwall. Since then Sara has baked nearly every day & has developed a simple, reliable approach to making all kinds of delicious loaves. Learn the different stages of sourdough baking throughout the day, then eat your own loaf, warm out of the oven, for breakfast the next morning! Back home you will be ready to get going the very next day with your starter levain mix, a Banneton basket & a recipe to follow – you’ll never look back!  Flexible times: £25 per person

Home-grown Vegetarian Feast

Sara has been cooking vegetarian food for the past 30 years, and has picked up ideas & recipes from around the world. Since being at Cotna she has loved learning how to cook with the seasons, both wild foods & the food grown in the green gardens at Cotna. Having these limits has opened up a world of ideas & creativity in the kitchen – and at Cotna Eco Retreat people say we eat some of the most delicious food in Cornwall! Join us in cooking up a veggie feast to eat together, or in the seclusion of your yurt! Flexible times: £25 per person

No Dig Gardening – from Seed to Leaf

We started by growing & selling our organic wild watercress & rocket, then moved on to other salad leaves – mainly all kinds of lettuce but also purslane, mustard, chicory, raddiccio, red orache & Japanese chrysanthiums. We follow the inspiration of the no-dig gardening guru Charles Dowding, and like him we deliver to restaurants, cafes & farmshops across Cornwall. Spend an afternoon with us in the garden, learning how we move from sowing seeds to potting on, to planting out & harvesting. Feel inspired to go home and use the no-dig approach to sowing, growing, mulching & composting!  Flexible times: £25 per person

Preserving the Fruits of our Labours

Using seasonal ingredients we will cook up a whole range of  jams, chutneys, pickles vinegars & cordials. Go home with jarfuls for yourselves, friends & family to sample! This can combine well with the sourdough bread making session if you have time on your hands!  Flexible times: £25 per person

for past events, click here.

‘We spent the afternoon on a wonderful foraging walk with Sara and Dave learning about the riches of the hedgerow and land. And we have just enjoyed cooking and sharing the most delicious meal with them and their family in their welcoming home! Perfect! I can’t recommend this strongly enough if you are here – it is a great way to learn about Cotna, your hosts and this heavenly spot – as well as taking home some new ideas, recipes and possibly a pot or two from Sara’s store!’ 

Julie & Steve

What a harmonious haven of abundance – a treat to be with the elements for a while, feisty though they were at times. Thank you so much for your gentle generosity, attention to detail and care. Thank you  for sharing your wealth of knowledge and know-how. How fulfilling, leaving Cotna with the ability to forage and bake sourdough bread. The whole family has benefitted.

Nic, Graham, Oscar, Toby & Sam


What an extraordinary place! So restorative and peaceful. Sara is a master bread maker too. Definitely come again—perhaps in the apple season.

Tom & Pam

Sara and Dave are wonderful hosts and Sara’s cooking is just to die for! Vegetarian food like you have never tasted.


Thank you so much for the interesting day eating all the plants and making pizza, salad, salad dressing and much more. It must be so much fun living there, eating all of the plants. I loved blending up the sorrel, yoghurt, oil and stuff, so much fun. Hope it lasts for a long time (the farm) and the same for the dogs.

Daniel (aged 9)

I learned that you can eat stinging nettle raw by crushing them and that you do not eat sorrel from a hedge. I learned that a lot of wild plants are edible!

Bella (aged 8)


Wild Food Forage, Cook & Dine

We have regular Spring and Autumn wild food walks with Rachel Lambert, Cornwall’s Wild Food Guru.  Rachel’s first foraging book is about to be released – watch this space!

Spring is a key time for wild food foraging as we hit the “hungry gap” when winter cultivated veg are coming to an end, and wild foods are abundant. In the woodland there is wild garlic, wood sorrel and primroses, while in the hedgerows there is plenty of succulent pennywort, alexander shoots and hedge bedstraw.

Autumn is an abundant time for harvesting wild fruits, roots and berries from the hedgerows  – sloes, haw berries, cleaver & alexander seeds, burdock roots and of course blackerries!

Discover how to identify the plants and understand their many fascinating qualities with Rachel. Then relax and enjoy a practical cooking session with Sara, along with recipe sheets and delicious creative ideas for the kitchen.

Afterwards we’ll sit down to a delicious banquet of four courses, accompanied by Cotna cider and preserves!

Price: Adults £50, under 16′s £20

Where: Cotna Barton, Gorran Churchtown, Grid Ref. SW999428, Postcode (for Sat Navs): PL26 6LG (link to directions page)

What to bring: Basket, wellies, weather appropriate clothing. (Optional: Apron, notebook and/or camera. Wine/ alcohol to accompany meal)

Bookings: Limited to 12 places. Book online at; or contact Sara via phone: 01726 844867 or email:

Facebook: For regular announcements of coming events, follow us on Facebook/CotnaCornwall


Sivananda Yoga

Each summer we try to run an annual yoga retreat run by our Indian  and Yoga teacher, Vasudev from Kerala. He teaches Sivananda yoga, a flowing style from the South of India. The classes are suitable for people with at least some experience of yoga rather than complete beginners. Numbers are limited to 10. Please contact us for further information.

It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to learn Yoga with a real Indian Yogi here in Cornwall.  He transformed the strawbale barn at Cotna into a little piece of Kerala.  The calming, peaceful atmosphere and intense daily yoga practice left me feeling invigorated and energised. Although I have been practicing yoga for over 25 years this has been the inspiration I have needed to start working on a regular daily basis at home and I am already noticing the benefits.
Lynne Gouldsmith

Yoga with Vasudev from Kerala, was “Wow” is all i can say. I hadn’t done yoga for eons but the session I had led by Vasu was mind-blowing as well as body-blowing. Loved it.
Paul, Bristol

School Visits

Children from the local primary school visit regularly to learn about and participate in land based skills. We provide practical sessions which match topics on the National Curriculum. Example sessions are below:

Healthy Living: Wild Food Walk, on which we collected, identified and drew four different plants (nettle, watercress, pennywort & sorrel). We then cooked nettle pizza, sorrel dip & a salad with raspberry dressing. The children from all classes loved the experience, as did the teachers! As each new class came along, they knew more about foraging the plants as the word spread amongst friends, and even  ‘greens-dodgers’ dared to try and even enjoy nettles!

Digging for Victory: The Cycle & Recycle of Life,  in relation to commemoration of the two World Wars. We used what could be learned from this campaign as well as the make do & mend idea of minimum waste to look at what we do here at Cotna to minimise and use our waste. This starts with where we put different organic matter to feed dogs, chickens worms and compost. We composted some beds, dug up some potatoes, planted some trees then cooked up some food! We followed a wartime recipe, mock banana cake, and also made leek & potato soup as well as honey and parsnip cake. We used a worksheet to clarify what fruit & veg can be grown locally and what is imported using carbon fuels and the children left with a clear idea of food waste cycles and how delicious seasonal foods can be.

Scarecrow Building Day – to help us with our pigeon problem!

Thank you for giving up your day to teach us and have fun about plants. It was really interesting and the food was one of the best things I’ve had in a long time. You made it interesting so now I can just think of a belly button and it would remind me of the pennywort.


Thank you for having us, I really enjoyed my time at Cotna. It was really interesting learning about food foraging! And your dogs are so sweet.

I learned that you can eat stinging nettle raw by crushing them and that you do not eat sorrel from a hedge. I learned that a lot of wild plants are edible!

The food was amazing and the pizza was nice with the nettles. I had lots of fun. I would like to come again. Thank you.

I liked looking around Cotna and tasting some plants. I learned a lot today from what plants I can eat.

Thank you for today, it was really fun tasting plants and it’s something I’ve not done. My favourite part of it was when we were tasting. The field sorrel was the best out of all of them.

Thank you for the food foraging day. I really liked the water cress—it was very spicy and peppery. I just loved the field sorrel—it was so sour and lemony and fresh and juicy.

Thank you so much for the interesting day eating all the plants and making pizza, salad, salad dressing and much more. It must be so much fun living there, eating all of the plants. I loved blending up the sorrel, yoghurt, oil and stuff, so much fun. Hope it lasts for a long time (the farm) and the same for the dogs.

We had so much fun at Cotna. I learned loads! I learned that you have to grasp stinging nettles tight so that they don’t sting you. Liver fluke can be in watercress if sheep are around. I am very grateful for all the time and care that you took on us.

 Garden, Woodland & Eco-building Days

Help is always welcomed at Cotna Eco Retreat in return for practical experience of our organic no-dig approach – lovely lunches and organic food to take away! Just give Sara a call 01726 844867 (leave us a message if you get the answerphone and we’ll ring you back as soon as we are able) or email