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Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to the General Activities Spring Newsletter.  We hope you had a happy and restful Easter.  Our last newsletter went out just before the Easter break to those who are shareholders and supporters of the newly named Oakbrook Farm in Stroud as it was specifically about developments of that project.  If you did not receive a copy and would like to read all about it click here. 

This issue is full of news from all of our projects old and new. 



Huxhams Cross Farm:

Based at Dartington, supported by a large part of the local community who have become shareholders, donors and volunteers, part of an agricultural research project into sustainable farming options on the Dartington Estate, it is vital that this project becomes more than just a farm – it will become a teaching and wellbeing centre too.

Marina O’Connell is the project leader, she has a national reputation as a permaculture trainer as well as being an experienced biodynamic farmer and trainer. She has successfully built 2 farm businesses and a thriving training business which is part the Apricot Centre. Marina, her family and the core Apricot team are moving progressively over the coming 18 months from Essex to Devon, with Bob Mehew alread having made the move. We believe Marina will take biodynamics and this farm to a wider public because of her connections into the extensive ecological farming movement, because of her skill and because of the location of this beacon project.

As said before, Huxhams Cross was purchased as bare land and we need to build its agricultural and training facilities from scratch! We have a fund-raising target of £150,000 for this important project that will enliven biodynamics in the South West – join us by investing now! Tell your friends they can make a difference too.

We have already raised £35,000 so only £115,000 to go. The share offer has been extended until the end of June.  The caravan workshop/tool store needs replacing by a barn and a training room! Soon!  Help us raise the funds to bring this about.  Full details and application form on our website hereTogether let's make this land a fully functioning Farm.

Huxhams Cross farm sits across the bottom of one of Devon’s famous V shaped valleys – created by water erosion after the ice age – and with a little brook at the bottom and a spring and 2 more tiny streams half way up the valley on either side.

To the South, on High Week, an orchard is being planted where chickens will live. The geology of this field is interesting being half volcanic and half alluvial – the volcanic side having far more va va vroom!  Far Week, the field furthest South, has been planted with the same deep rooting grass mix planted as green manure across the farm last year, chosen to break up and through the clay, in preparation for its future as an arable field.

To the North, clustered around the HQ caravan pictured above (invest now so we can build our buildings!), the soft fruit and first part of the market garden is emerging within its newly erected rabbit fence. The rest of Billany field has been planted in sweeping rows of agroforestry trees that will provide shelter from the prevailing winds and nuritents for the interspersed large-scale market garden crops to come, as well as fuel for the biofuel heating of the training and wellbeing centre.

The Apricot Centre team could not have done this without help from their amazing volunteers, so a big thank you to them for all their help around the farm.  Watch out for the events on their website here.
To join in and support this work as a volunteer, as an investor, or a donor.  Please tell your friends and colleagues about this opportunity.  Everybody can help make this farm develop and become a beacon.


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 (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.)


The first project that the BDLT became involved in 37 acres of pasture being farmed by Tablehurst Farm. Life at Plaw Hatch and Tablehurst cooperative farms thrives supported by their local and extended community.  Their latest newsletter provides a snapshot of some of the activities:

"As a visitor at the farm you might not always observe what is actually happening, only what you can see in the immediate surroundings. Some days the farm is very quiet; does this mean no-one is working? Often it’ll be because the activities are happening away from the farm yard, such as bedding and feeding, wood cutting or harvesting. We could also view Nature in the same way; just because nothing is happening obviously in front of our eyes doesn’t mean there isn’t some activity happening below the ground or in the plants themselves......."

"And a quick note on the weather from the gardener: a terribly confusing winter we’ve just had, daffodils coming before the snow drops and buds breaking open on trees and roses long before they should. Who knows what the next months will hold but we are all praying for some sunshine to brighten our souls!" 

In the meantime the grass on Brambletye fields is growing well and provides good pasture for the animals over the summer. To read the latest co-op newsletter in full click here.

Noltlands Farm, Westray, Orkney:

Jason and Nina Wilson farm Noltlands at Westray, Orkney. The farm is organic certified and BD principles and practice lie at the heart of the farm.   With their 24 Ayrshire cows, they make delicious cheese at their creamery and will produce yoghurt and bottled milk in due course. 
Since acquiring the farm five years ago, they have improved cattle health and regenerated the land, gaining local respect. Farmer Tim Brink, the BDLT chair, says, ‘Noltlands is a flagship farm…. A courageous couple of entrant farmers buying a farm and setting up a dairy farm and creamery.  I don’t know of any other young people in the BD movement in this country who have bought a farm and tried to make it work.   But they face many challenges, such as unexpected care costs for their parents.’ So to help the farmers survive a cash flow and investment crunch and invest further in the development of a sustainable farm, the BDLT is buying 50 acres of Noltlands (rather than them having to sell some land) to lease it back affordably.
This farm is on one of the Celtic/Viking islands overlooking the wide sweep of a turquoise sea and sandy bay, which takes in a Neolithic site where a famous earth goddess figure, the ‘Venus of Westray’ was found.
The Land Trust will be issuing a share offer in the coming months to raise the funds to secure the 50 acres of Noltlands land.

Oakbrook Farm: 

During the weekend of March 19th and 20th the second workshop to work on the land use plan for the community farm took place under the guidance and direction of Marina O'Connell.  Sebastian Parsons commented afterwards:

"The workshop was very focussed, business in the foreground and lots of nitty gritty details.  It was hard work all the way but it was positive and the whole weekend was good natured.  

From out of nowhere, right at the end, a sense of progress emerged, a feeling that we were actually doing something for real and that it was happening - now!  

As if the spirit of the farm wanted to reflect that sense of progress back to us, what had been the completely intractable problem of what to call the farm was solved in a moment.  We stood around a table full of names with ideas flying back and forth, suddenly everyone agreed and our farm had a new name: Oakbrook Farm!"

Work has since continued: the first part of the arable field has been ploughed for the Starter Farm veg to be planted, SCA young stock have come onto the fields to join Jeanie Ireland's few Gloucestershire cows and a few brambles cleared near the field veg site to discourage rabbits from living too close.

Rush Farm:

Rush Farm is a BDLT success in that BDLT was instumental in saving it and helping the Parsons Family to establish a Community Benefit Society (Stockwood CBS) to own the farm and business park and find investors so that it could be saved from forclosure by the post-2008 bank protocols that considered their loan to be a risk even though regular payments were being made.

Extracts from Farmer Adrian Parson's diary:
At the beginning of this month it was rather unusual in that calving rather than lambing dominated. We had expected by this weekend to have lambed at least 35 out of the 70 ewes that went early to the tup and possibly to have had a couple of new calves. The reverse has been the case. In theory we might get eight calves this spring, already we have six. The first lamb count was a modest 24 - in that we had expected nearer 60! For this year we have changed the location of our 'orphanage' and placed it in the Orchard next to the pond. Strictly speaking our lambs currently in occupation are not orphans at all but are lambs taken away from their mothers either because of rejection or lack of sufficient milk.  By mid month the sun is shining and the wind, though chill, is light though there was a worrying flurry of snow one afternoon. No more calves yet and, until last night, a dribble rather than a flood of lambs. I have previously referred to the 'orphanage'. Infra-red heating, dry straw and warmish milk from our 'shepherdesses’ all within purpose built accommodation means these lambs are doing well.

Worcester Roots made their first order of vegetables from us this past week as the early sown salad vegetables are now ready to eat and the garden team continue to sow, transplant and of course weed!

Next week is going to be very very busy as we have four school visits - three from a special school and the fourth from Elmfield who have farming as their special theme for the year 8 class.


Oakbrook Farm
Open Day Monday May 2nd 11 - 4pm

Featuring farm walks and consultation on the emerging plans for the land, community needs and interests and involvement. Do come and talk to us, walk the land, explore the stream. Walk down from Hawkwood (a lead walk leaving 12.45pm), across from Uplands or up from Stroud.  Other walks will be starting on the site.  Full details on our website.  Disabled parking available on site too .

Oakbrook Farm
  Art and Walking the land 5 May Ascension Day

Walking the Land & The Biodynamic Land Trust would like to invite you to a day of drawing, painting, writing, photography and immersion in the landscape of Oakbrook Farm, land between Stroud and Hawkwood College.  Full details on our website.

Huxhams Cross Farm
Open Farm Sunday on 5th June 2016

Some of the farmers at Dartington Hall are joining forces to offer a farm trail across the estate. Expect goat milking, cream teas, and cake!
At Huxhams Cross Farm we will be offering farm tours and more. There will be a special map to help navigate the rather lovely walk from the main estate to us. Further details nearer the time on our website.

We look forward to seeing you soon.  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, All rights reserved.

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