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SUMMER NEWSLETTER                      July 2016
Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to the Summer Newsletter.

The growing season is in full flow and our farmers and growers are all very busy.  They have found time to keep us up to date, however, and we send all their news to you here.

This issue of our newsletter continues to provide updates on the activities of our projects old and new as well as on our current Share Offer. 

Select from the Contents list or read it all at your leisure.  

Together we are making a difference.



AGM and weekend events

The joint BDLT and BDAA AGM is being hosted by the welcoming South Devon Biodynamic Group who have kindly given much time and effort in the organisation of this event.

There will be a talk on Friday night, AGM and talk by C Cooper on Saturday morning with visits to the Steiner School garden and Huxhams Cross Farm in the early afternoon and a talk by Sebastian Parsons about the work of the Land Trust and a plenum after a brief tea break.  On the Sunday participants will have a chance to visit some of the inspiring local biodynamic farms and gardens.  Although only members will have a vote at the AGM meetings, everyone is welcome to join in for as much of the weekend as wanted. 

The South Devon group is one of the BDAA's most dynamic biodynamic groups and has been so for years. Our warmest thanks to them for all they do for biodynamics and their support for our events.

BOOKING ESSENTIAL by 16th September. Full details and programme downloadable here


1st OCTOBER 2016

South Devon Rudolf Steiner School

You are warmly invited to attend the BDLT and BDA AGMs

It is envisaged that the two AGMs will overlap and will be accompanied by talks and workshops. 

This is an ideal opportunity to learn more about the Biodynamic movement in general, the specifics of the Biodynamic Land Trust, the excellent land work being carried out at the Steiner School and visit Huxhams Cross Farm just up the road and nearby Velwell Orchard (all part of the programme).

We recommend that you mark the day in your diary and you book your accommodation soon as the area is a busy one.

(PS If there are local members who would like to offer 'friendly beds B&B' do let us know in the office so we can establish a list of potentials, thank you.)
One possibility of accommodation for your visit to the AGM is to camp at this campsite near Totnes.

"It is on our smallholding where we grow fruit, veg, herbs, eggs and flowers using biodynamic methods and certified organic with the Soil Association. We are tucked away in a secluded valley, 3 miles from Totnes. We can offer wood for campfires, a stream for paddling, a shower and compost toilets as well as produce in season for sale."

Huxhams Cross Farm:

Bob and Marina report: Lots of exciting things are happening here.   Chicken houses are on the way, ready to receive the 40 organic white leghorns in August followed by a further 60 soon after, all at the point of lay.  The farm gets to the stage of being able to sell products as " in conversion to organic" officially in September 2016.  These white eggs with be "in conversion to organic" and ready for sale. 

The Huxhams Cross team are excited to be offering their first 'crop' just a year after arriving on the farm. If you are interested in regular egg purchases please get in touch with them.

Damson and Daffodil (pictured below) are arriving from Wales in September. The two young heifers are Shetland breed, they are winter hardy and well used to people being around. Daffodil is the white and black one and Damson is the black and white one (see below).

The Apricot Centre now has a new Creative Director - Matt Harvey.  When we first launched the share offer for the Farm he read us his slug poem, watch it on you-tube, and he predicted that there would be more slugs in the future and he is right! A blooming of slugs is, unfortunately, one of the developments of conversion to organics and we hope that most of them will go away once the farm is more established.

Activities such as Working Wednesdays continue and new ones are starting soon.  These are a great success with participants gaining new skills, having a great time and making a big difference on the farm.
The Farm Club will be starting on the 13th September and will run every Tuesday afternoon 1-3.30, lead by Tania Mountney. It is open to all children, but aimed for those that are home educated. For details contact Bob Mehew or see the Apricot Centre website.
The Infrastructure Share Offer to transform this bare land to a community farm has been successful in raising the money for opening the access and to build a simple barn, which is a great start and allows development work to progress.

The full amount needed has not yet been raised so the Share Offer has been extended to run until the end of September. 

We now need to raise the funds for the training and well-being centre and for key services: water, electricity and broadband which are proving to be expensive to get on site, so please share your enthusiasm and support for this project with other people you know, to help widen the funding circle.

Progress: Planning permission for the barn has been granted and work has started on the new entrance for the farm so this is very exciting news. The barn build is scheduled for August, so things are really starting to take shape.

The land is ready to develop as a sustainable, community connected, educational, market garden and smallholding to grow good food; for soil restoration, health, well-being, education, etc.  According to a recent study, even DEFRA is now recognising the value of soil biodiversity and health as the foundation for good food and agriculture.
Be part of making this farm a success: accessible to the community, raise a barn, build a training and well-being centre and get the necessary services on site to make this a fully functional farm. 

Do encourage investment in this fantastic project - full details on our website
(photos below of the first apricot tree on site - it flowered!
And families on the farm walk on Open Farm Sunday in June)

Oakbrook Farm: 

The Oakbrook Community development group has been very active over the last few months.  A meeting was held in May, on site.  Sebastian Parsons commented:

"It was an utterly gorgeous spring evening with the bluest of blue skies and the sunlight sloping in, its colour deepening as the evening and meeting progressed.  The spring air cooling steadily and the members gathered there moving closer to the fire to compensate." 
A further meeting held in June resulted in the invitation to supporters to join in counting flowers and planting current bushes as part of a foraging trail.  We had volunteers from far and wide with one coming from Bristol with his bicycle.

Sara Keene who helped organise the day writes:
Thanks to enthusiastic participants, we had an interesting, useful AND sunny day in the fields on Sunday.  More species of flora were found in the morning and, after a relaxed picnic lunch, around 70 fruit plants were dug in along the hedge-line by a team of willing slashers and diggers, muck carriers and planters.  Each person brought a welcome addition and it was a joy to be and work together.
We all look forward to the next one and as the edible hedge isn't finished yet - there's mulching and further planting to do - it looks set to become the first community-led project on the land, with further days in the pipeline.
We are beginning to organise more volunteer opportunites for Oakbrook Farm.  If you offered your time and/or expertise on the community survey form we will contact you in the near future.  If you didn't but would like to volunteer we have a dedicated email address:  and we would love to hear from you.  We will also publish events and activities on the website and Facebook page and by newsletter in advance when we can but some opportunities may come up at short notice so great if we know who is or might be interested and available. :-)
(photos of some of the volunteers planting current bushes)

Noltlands Farm, Westray, Orkney:

Noltlands Farm is a new member of the BDLT family - share offer to come.

Read the story so far in their own words.

For those in Scotland 'The Westray Wife' cheese is available from Mellis Cheese.  For now, those of us in England or elsewhere who would like to sample this cheese will have to ask our local deli to stock it or visit the lovely Orkney island itself - see photo of the beautiful beach below and 'Butterfly' one of the farm's contented cows in her idyllic home.

The BBC programme 'Coast' is filming on the island so everyone should keep an eye out for a special on Orkney which will feature the archaeological dig at the edge of the farm. We'll let you know if we hear when it's on.

Follow them on their blog:  to keep up with their news and journey so far.


Dalcour MacLaren, a company acting on behalf of South East Water, has informed us that they are proposing to conduct a dormouse survey in the area of 'Forest Row to Weirwood' which would include our 'Brambletye Fields' farmed by Tablehurst.
The survey will involve putting up nesting boxes/ tubes on site within the existing vegetation was carried out on the 8th July 2016.  Whilst on site, the ecologists also carried out a simple visual survey to identify any signs of badgers or bats. The boxes/ tubes will be visited from August to November 2016 to see if there are any signs of activity or if the tubes are actually being used.  Unless the boxes/ tubes appear to be in use, they will then be removed in November 2016.  We will let you know the results!

Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farming Co-op celebrated 20 years of community farming with an Open Day on Sunday 10th July.   

Read their latest news.

Rush Farm:

Overall a successful Spring and early summer at Rush Farm:  calving and lambing concluded, domestic and wild birds emerged from their shells, pasture was planted,  preparation 500 sprayed on the land.  All this was achieved with the help of WWOOFers who not only bring hard work and enthusiasm but sometimes prove to be good cooks and are greatly appreciated.

Work has continued to bring into effect the 'green policies' of Stockwood Community Benefit Society (SCBS) in that 10 kilometers of piping has been laid to carry water from the farm to the business park and for a ground-source heat pump.
Plenty of haylage has been cut with a similar amount expected in September to ensure feed for winter. The garden is now producing much more than just salads.  Customers have enjoyed broad beans, dwarf French beans and peas in addition to the salad crops which have been doing well for over a month now. "What we really need now is some sunshine to go with the warmth!" says farmer Adrian Parsons.
We can all agree with that!

Seed Co-op

Sebastian Parsons recently visited the new and proper site for the developing Seed Co-op (a partner venture that we work with and support) and writes:

"I had a very inspiring visit to the new Seed Coop project in Gosberton.
I have been to Lincolnshire before, but one forgets how flat it is.  It really is the most flat place and really does bring up memories of visits to Holland and the Canadian prairie - the sky is so big.  I suppose the difference between Lincolnshire and Saskatchewan (where I was born), is that you drive a day or 2 to see a hill in Canada, but only half an hour in the UK!

The site is beautiful, a lovely fresh water reservoir and acres and acres of glass.  Glasshouses are fast becoming architectural heritage and probably the reason this plot became available at such a good price was that there aren’t many operations that want to operate at this scale anymore. 

The Seed Cooperative has purchased a nursery with a long history and a warm place in the hearts of the local community.  An early-investor in earlier generations of technology, the nursery was an important local firm since the 1930s.  There is still a huge oil furnace for heating all the glass - it’s like a steam engine has got stuck in a shed.  However, times change, and in the end it was probably the oil prices, as much as anything, that put paid to the business.

Another fascinating insight into the history of the landscape was the presence of sea shells in the soil - the land drains, beautiful and bulging with wildlife, were once estuarine and salty, and the land here is vulnerable to periodic flooding with sea water.

Kate and David have got an awful lot of work to do to bring their vision to reality, but I left feeling absolutely confident they would do it.  There are, of course, other people around to help and WWOOFers aplenty lined up for the summer."


The Way of the Scythe - beginners course at Velwell Orchard - 16th&17th July 2016

Three Farms Walk Sunday 17th July 2016 from Huxhams Cross Farm through South Devon Steiner School to Velwell Orchard.

Access to land issues and concerns:

New farmers struggle to find land across Europe.

Here is a short article by Rachel Harries of the Soil Association, also one of our Directors, with a link to an interesting short film on access to land issues.  Gabriel Kaye and Martin Large (BDLT) worked with this team from across Europe on this project funded by the Grundvig programme.  This work is now continuing with funding from Erasmus +.

The video speaks for itself and is worth a watch.
With banks currently giving such low interest it is amazing how little one loses when investing in the BDLT rather than a bank.

Instead we have the knowledge and satisfaction that our money is working for the good of us all and of our beautiful planet Earth.

We hope you have enjoyed this newsletter. (Feedback always welcome.)

Thank you for your continuing support!

Together we are part of making a difference in the world.

Great working with you.

Gabriel and the team

Copyright © 2016 Biodynamic Land Trust Ltd, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Biodynamic Land Trust, Painswick Inn, Gloucester Street, Stroud. GL5 1QG
01453 367233

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Biodynamic Land Trust · Painswick Inn · Gloucester Street · Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1QG · United Kingdom

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