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Dear Members, Friends and supporters
We bring you some exciting news and updates:
  • the next stage in funding for Huxhams Cross land to make it a farm
  • Activity on site
  • other news from the BDLT
NEW Share Offer: £150,000 needed to make a farm from bare land.

Launch for Farm Barn Raising at Huxhams Cross Farm, Devon

Farmer Marina O'Connell outlined the new farm design to around 100 people who crowded to the launch of the farm and its design at Dartington Village Hall on 10th October. The farm is a new co-operatively owned project, belonging to the community, managed and run by the Apricot Centre team under the trusteeship and stewardship of the Biodynamic Land Trust.

Martin Large warmly invited people to invest in the farm barn raising. This is 'bare, orphan land' with no farm buildings or infrastructure, and soil degraded by years of agri-chemicals and artificial fertilizers. The more people invest in this the quicker this new community farm can get going and serve the locality with great fresh produce.

'This farm gives people the opportunity to invest in their own (local) community for food security, real family farming and a living, working countryside.' This farm is an exciting development where the infrastructure is to be established as we want it; months of planning and two Permaculture Design workshops have developed this outline into a doable, makable biodynamic farm fit for community involvement, community pleasure, welbeing work, nature conservation and admiration and plenty of scope for community involvement (the biodynamic preparations have already been spread over the whole site thanks to community support).

All we need now is help in raising the funds to build a barn, water systems, a training and cooking centre, polytunnels, parking space, fencing, agro-forestry rows and orchards. So do join us in this project.

We have got a beautiful new prospectus and also a short leaflet and lots more information on the website; you can download either of these documents by clicking on them below or by clicking onto our website link here.
Click on the prospectus to read the full details ... forms and all included (also donation form)
For a shorter edition of the informaiton with forms click on the above
The necessary forms for shares are contained in both these documents (for donations see the prospectus) or can be downloaded from the website, completed and sent to the address below.

'This farm will become a beautiful green oasis at the heart of this community, but it needs your help and investment to make it happen! 600 people investing or giving £250 each would bring in the £150,000 needed', said Martin Large, 'What a wonderful Christmas present this would make!  This would be a huge vote of confidence in farmers Marina and Mark O'Connell, and Bob Mayhew.'

Fuller details about this exciting project are available on our website.
Above the contoversial mowing/topping of the meadow. Marina was offered the 'mow' at 8am one morning with 'the mower is free today do you want it?' No time to consult but the right time of year for conservation mowing, so it happened and the wide diversity of plants that were getting choked will be able to grow again.
Followed by pictures from the farm walk and launch event on 10th October.


Activity on the land with Bob Mehew

On Saturday 28th November (10.00 - 15.00) we will be planting a Children's Orchard on Higher Week Field. Thanks to generous sponsors, The Tree Council, we have a small grant from a fund that encourages children to get involved with Community planting. We'd love to see as many families as possible for this special event. As the fruit matures over the years this orchard will be the site for further community events such as harvesting and juicing. All are welcome, bring a spade if you have one, your own lunch, and cake to share. Hot drinks provided.
There are also regular volunteer 'Working Wednesday's' at the farm from 10.30 - 15.00. This is the day volunteers are invited to come onto the land to give us a much needed hand to get things done around the farm. There is so much to do, and many hands often make light work. Activities over this winter will include a lot of tree planting, fence building, hedgerow maintenance and clearing a site to establish the farm club space, which we hope to launch next spring.

For more information:
see our volunteering page: 
and find us on facebook:
Check these for an idea of what's going on in any particular week, cancellations and what to wear and bring.
We welcome all age-groups and skills, and we try to make jobs available for all abilities. We ask that all children are accompanied and supervised by an adult. It is helpful to arrive at 10.30 so we can plan the day accordingly, and stay as long as you like. Tea / coffee and biscuits provided.

Please contact Bob on / 07507841158 if you wish to come.

Hammonds Farm, Stroud, update - the Land is ours!

We are currently running a separate email list for this project so as not to bombard you with information, though we will occasionnally send news of all projects to everyone. If you would like to be on the Hammonds/Lot 3 list for the Stroud project please let us know.

This project has moved fast and the land is now bought and 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 we have not yet managed to complete the full funding package and the BDLT has had to advance funds that are promised elsewhere so we are still seeking shares and gifts to help complete the last £25,000. We have received a fantastic offer of matched funding for this project against any shares and gifts that come in between mid October and Christmas.

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

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.

It 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 Start and Furrow, see also our website or through discussion by appointment). 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 as 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 on 01453 367233 (usually Monday,Thursday and Friday) or email:


Huxhams Cross Farm - BDLT in partnership with the Apricot Centre

Copyright © 2015 Biodynamic Land Trust, All rights reserved.

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