View this email in your browser

Dear Members, Supporters and Friends

Autumn has come and almost gone and we are harvesting the fruits of our labours here at the BDLT.  Our heartfelt thanks to everyone who has so generously supported our endeavours, especially throughout the very busy summer months! Success: Lot 3 is now ours!
Lot 3 (Hammonds Farm) is ours!
The legal work was completed on 13th November and the land is now ours to develop. We can now organise surveys, events, work days and much more on the land and you can join us in this and in the enjoyment of this success.

A group of potential users are working with the Biodynamic Land Trust (BDLT) and Stroud Community Agriculture (SCA) to find the right mix of growers, farmers and activities to make this land a vibrant hub for local food, biodynamic farming, training/education and conservation.

This is all very exciting.  However, as we have not yet managed to complete the full funding package and the BDLT has had to advance funds that are promised elsewhere, we are still seeking shares and gifts to help complete the last £25,000. We have received a fantastic offer of matched funding for the last push to fund the buying of this land against any shares and gifts that come in between mid October and Christmas. (Christmas present for someone you know?)

For more information and details, forms etc please see our web page for Hammonds farm/Lot 3 (we are seeking a new name).

Many people are responding to the email sent out a couple of weeks ago so the actual amount is a changing picture.  For latest news on the last stage of fundraising watch our website.

More details below ...
Hammonds Farm - the celebration

Over 100 people gathered to celebrate with a bring and share meal on Sunday 11th October at Landsown Hall, Stroud. Rob and Jehanne Mehta welcomed everyone with some harvest songs, and Jehanne told her moving Albion poem. The land was still, at that stage, going through conveyancing to the Biodynamic Land Trust.  Gabriel Kaye updated us with fund raising, and that we still needed to raise around £50,000, but we will! (now only £25,000!)

Sam Hardiman of Stroud Community Agriculture, Claire Whitney (starter farm), Kate Broad (goat micro diary) and Jeannie Ireland (education, training, therapy) outlined their plans, which were warmly applauded.

Isis Brook introduced her Meeting the Land day workshop (15th November), and Flora Harding of Soil Sisters mentioned the 5th December Soil Saturday at Hawkwood, which will include sampling soils on the Lot 3 land.

Jade Bashford (SCA) said, 'We need land to which we can belong, and here we are!' A new person to the area said that, 'the evening and the community buy-out was like going to heaven.'  But now the work!

Potential land users and other stakeholders will be invited to participate in two farm permaculture design workshops led by farmer Marina O'Connell, and an initiative working group has now been formed (November 5th).

Hammonds Farm - Future development

We will carry out various forms of community consultation over the next year as we wish to know what the wider community - shareholders, supporters and others - would like or feel appropriate for this land.  How would you like to be involved?  What access and use of this land  - bearing in mind that it will be predominantly agricultural and educational - would you would like to see or have?

We would like to know:
  • why you got invovlved
  • what community connexion and consultation you would like to see / get from this involvement?
Name - what is in a name? How does it help the land and its activities to be fully themselves?   We also asked for ideas and discussed proposals for a new name for the land at the celebration on the 11th October. Various proposals were put forward including historic links to the name 'Grove'. But so far nothing has stuck.  Walking the land on the 15th November it was apparent there is no grove there but the presence of a number of large oaks was strongly felt and the valley with the little stream was also experienced as a strong feature of this land.

So do send us any ideas for names you may have, all will be considered by the BDLT with the potential users group over the next few weeks.

Here is an important date of Hammonds Farm Lot 3 event for your diary:

"Following on from the excellent Soil Culture@Create events in the summer orchestrated by Touchstone Collaborations to celebrate International Year of the Soil we are pleased to let you know about this follow on event  "World Soil Day" on Sat 5th December.  Biodynamics will have a strong presence there along with lots of other excellent like-minded organizations. The event starts at 10 am with Hammonds Farm walk at 11am, and more: see for details and booking."

If you are not able to come during the day then you are most welcome to attend the evening Festival of Film for Soil and Soul from 6.30pm onwards.

Other Events?

If you would like to meet this land, organise an event or activity do let us know so we can check with SCA, who are caring for this land and starting the organic and Demeter convserion process, before we can give the go-ahead for such things but it is great for the land and community to have things going on. There will be Tree days and Plant survey days etc coming in the future.

Gates and fences - Please respect these (and the land) as they are an important part of the infrastructure necessary to the farm and activity. SCA will be putting some animals onto the land to keep the grass managed and the land cared for. They will fence off the stream so that the banks are not further damage by cattle. 

Please note; dog faeces can be unsafe for cattle and children so poop-a-scooping is important even on farm land. (And plastic bags of poop in the hedgerows are not decorative, thanks.)

We look forward to lots of exciting activity on Lot 3.

Gabriel Kaye gave a short presentation on Soil, Biodynamics and Hammonds Farm at a Stroud Transition Towns film evening on Soil, in November alongside other locals.  She says that:

Soil has 4 main elements:

  • The mineral: stone, sand, dust – what is left if you burn it
  • Plant matter and plant life – humus, leaf-moulds and all other composted and fresh plant matter - importantly all the fungal and mycorrhizal systems
  • Animals and animal matter – from microscopic animals and insects essential to the life of the earth through the earthworms and moles to all sorts of animal life and droppings
  • What we humans bring to it and make of it; cultivate it, desecrate it or leave it to nature. Our care can make all the difference.

The PDF of her presentation is available on our website.  It makes fascinating reading.

OTHER NEWS of BDLT activity and land


Huxhams Cross Farm stage 2 - Making a Farm from bare Land

The Biodynamic Land Trust has (at last) secured the 999 year lease for 34 acres near Dartington in Devon. We have signed a long-term farm tenancy with the Apricot Centre.

The land, now known as Huxhams Cross Farm, is ready to develop as a sustainable, community-connected, educational, market garden and smallholding farm to grow good food; for soil restoration, health, wellbeing, education, training, permissive land access, biodiversity, wildlife, conservation, jobs and a living, working, countryside.

A summary of Huxhams Cross Farm Share Offer
This is an invitation to invest in withdrawable shares in the Biodynamic Land Trust Community Benefit Society Limited, a charity at law, so as to raise £150,000 for investing in farm infrastructure such as barns, Forest School, services, educational facilities and repaying interest free loans needed for the land acquisition.

The 34 acres of farmland between Week and Huxhams Cross, Dartington, Totnes, South Devon is leased by the Biodynamic Land Trust on a long term Farm Business Tenancy to the Apricot Centre in order to develop Huxhams Cross Farm.

By investing you will help:
• Build the farm infrastructure, such as barns, playspace, learning facilities services such as electricity and water,
• Secure land for growing biodynamic, organic food, help develop bare land into a living working farm
• Restore soil fertility, increase biodiversity, enhance landscape
• Benefit the community through good food, permissive land access, research, education, training, apprenticeships, sustainable livelihoods, volunteering, and increasing local resilience
• Enable the establishment of a learning, demonstration farm for biodynamic, permaculture and organic food growing
• Secure a social, cultural and environmental return on your shares.
Click for the full Share Offer Prospectus 

Why a Huxhams Cross Farm Share Offer?
The July 2014 Week Land Share Offer successfully raised enough gifts, loans and shares to buy 34 acres of farm land between Week and Huxhams Cross on a 999 Year Lease from the Dartington Hall Trust for £220,000 on 11 September 2015. The Biodynamic Land Trust now needs to raise a further £150,000 to help the Apricot Centre, the farmers, transform the land into a beacon farm, a green oasis at the heart of the Totnes community.

The Huxhams Cross Farm Share Offer is open 10 October 2015 to 15 January 2016. Amount sought £150,000, Minimum investment £250 (5 monthly installments possible), Maximum investment £100,000 in shares (per person or organisation)

“It’s wonderful that Huxhams Cross Farm has been secured for an innovative permaculture and biodynamic farm. Please help them make the next step to secure the finances they need to develop the buildings and equipment that will allow the project to thrive. Their work is unique and important, and can provide a model for how many more farms could work in the future.”   Andy Goldring, CEO, Permaculture Association

Huxham’s Share Offer update:  Huxham’s Cross Farm was launched on 10th October at a packed Dartington Village Hall after a farm walk on the land to expereince the land and see the greenmanure growing. Marina O'Connell presented the farm design, and how the bare orphan land will be transformed. You are invited  to invest in the  Farm Share Offer, for barn raising for the farm. Full details of the NEW SHARE OFFER here .

Brambletye Fields at Tablehurst Farm Ltd 

May 2012 saw the Biodynamic Land Trust buy its first land - 37 acres in Sussex being farmed by Tablehurst Farm but being sold by the owner who needed the investment for her family. This land has continued to be a valued part of Tablehurst farm and part of its success; below is an extract from its annual report. We are pleased to be supporting one of the beacon BD and community farms in the UK.

2014-15 Report: Education, Training and Research Activities
The Directors of Tablehurst Farm are pleased to report on the education, training and research activities that have taken place on and in the name of the farm for the financial year 2014-15. As in recent years, this has taken a number of forms, from routine farm study to hosting visits by school children, college students and interest group. Of particular note is the continuing commitment to train new entrants to agriculture and horticulture, to support staff study and development, and to play a full role in school and community-based education. In addition, this year we have added a number of high profile workshops and seminars that have been open to the public, as well as to those on the farm. These workshops have addressed land management issues, including pioneering ways of managing soils and reducing weed burden, and a day on sheep health care. In all cases there have been both theory and practice elements, the latter using Tablehurst as a ‘living classroom’.  At over £67,000 of value, this commitment amounts to approximately 5% of turnover, or 2 full time equivalent staff (similar to 2014), and is well in excess of the annual rents paid to St Anthony’s Trust and the Biodynamic Land Trust.

Tablehurst Farm continues to be at the leading edge of education and training in biodynamic community farming, as befits its status as one of the largest and oldest farms of its type in the UK. Through its apprenticeship, internship and staff development programmes it prepares significant numbers of people for fulfilling careers in farming, gardening, care work and butchery, whether at Tablehurst or elsewhere. It also continues to train all of its permanent staff in social care, to ensure that it offers a vibrant and meaningful life to three people with disabilities who live on the farm. 

In addition, Tablehurst maintains a commitment to research and development, whether in terms of the study that the farmers and gardeners routinely undertake, or in terms of collaborations with universities and colleges. Following a number of projects with urban farms and gardens, Tablehurst has this year chosen to work with East Sussex and Kent County Councils, and the local governments of Ostende (Belgium) and Middleburg (The Netherlands) on developing a greater understanding of the value of community supported agriculture, particularly in urban and peri-urban settings.

Protecting your farm’s future .......

Farm Succession questions - Gift and Leaseback options and more
Many farmers wrestle with the challenge of farm succession. Their children may not want to farm, there may be potential family conflicts, and continuing farm viability can be a problem, and what about retirement planning? Farmers are keen to see their organic or biodynamic farm, their life’s work, continue, but how? What are the options?

There are a wide range of options for protecting farms.  The following list can help farmers clarify what they want for the future of their farms and how to realise this.

This will interest farmers:
  • Who have no heirs but want their life’s work to continue
  • Whose family no longer wants to farm
  • Who want to put their farm beyond potential family conflicts
  • Who want to continue farming while they can, and want to firm up their farm legacy e.g. via a gift and leaseback, or partial sale gift and leaseback option
  • Who are planning for retirement and who are considering a farm transfer to a trusteeship body for stewarding
  • Who are beneficiaries of a private family trust and who want to transfer ownership into a trusteeship body such as the BDLT
What are the options?
The options for protecting biodynamic and organic farmland include:
  • Pledge of land to be transferred on death of owner
  • Legacy of land with (or without) prior liaison
  • Lifetime gift and leaseback
  • Outright lifetime gift
  • Purchase of land
All have pros and cons (more information in an article to come in the next Star and Furrow, see also our website or through discussion with BDLT). So gift and leaseback can provide benefits for both donor and BDLT.

From Ownership to Trusteeship and Stewardship

Giving and transferring farms into a trusteeship body to steward is a way of protecting biodynamic and organic farms as a ‘commons’ or common pool resource rather than as market commodity. Currently we have a farm land market bubble, where it’s more profitable to invest in land ownership than in gold, with prime arable land having doubled in price over five years. It could be argued that farmland, like air or water, should in fact be a socially stewarded common resource. Treating land as a market commodity has negative results, for example excluding young, competent farmers or new entrants with energy and fresh ideas, and leading to land being held for profit rather than nurtured and harvested sustainably for the common good. And the ‘ being of the farm’, which needs to be respected and stewarded as a self-sustaining organism, invites retiring farmers to both keep a living connection with ‘their’ farm but also pass it into trusteeship and stewardship for family, farmer and common good.
Bequests to the BDLT?
Bequests can come in many forms: a few tools, a farm, some money, some land ......  and all of these can help us meet our aims.

The Biodynamic Land Trust has been established to preserve biodynamic farmland for future farmers and the next generation of food eaters and nature lovers (see our aims).

If you are interested in supporting us through your will, please do contact us in advance, it can be helpful to talk about it and we can provide a codicil document to help you pass your choices on to your solicitor.

If you wish to support the BDLT long term to secure land for Biodynamics in the above way or by regular giving there are a number of ways that are tax effective as we are a charity, please contact Gabriel Kaye, the BDLT Society Secretary/Administrator on 01453 367233 (usually Monday,Thursday and Friday) or email:
Copyright © 2015 Biodynamic Land Trust Ltd, All rights reserved.

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences 

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp