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AUTUMN NEWSLETTER                      October 2016

Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,

Welcome to the Autumn Newsletter.  We hope you enjoy all of our latest news.

Please click on the items of your choice or just feast on everything!

AGM report:

The 2016 AGM was held on 1st October at the South Devon Steiner School and was hosted by the local Biodynamic Group - our thanks to them for this.  We shared the weekend activities with the Biodynamic Association and although the actual AGM meetings happened separately the walks and talks and food were all shared.
For Michaelmas Class 6 and their Art teacher made a festival mandala with unusable products from the garden, flowers and leaves and other natural things from around the school site. It was much admired by visitors over the weekend.
The weekend began with a fascinating talk on the concept of three-folding and how farming can support education and even the development of leadership skills by Berni Courts of Ruskin Mill, Nailsworth (near Stroud).  The BDLT AGM itself went well, with interesting questions and engagement, and a sense that we are making progress.

The whole event was fun and heart-warming and informative with lots of information about local BD activities, things going on in the biodynamic movement accros the country, in the Association and Land Trust. And with lots of time to catch up with old friends from the Devon area and further afield. 

It was also wonderful to spend Sunday morning making preps with Jeremy Weiss and Selby Thomas at Velwell Valley. 
We wanted to have the AGM in Devon because of our Huxhams Cross project, and by holding it at the South Devon Steiner School we were located within walking distance of the new farm.  Rapid progress has been made, and we were able to see the new barn only days after construction was completed.

Huxhams Cross Farm:

Progress: The barn is up and there is now access for visitors to drive and park onsite!  Funds have been raised for both of these as part of the farm infrastructure development.

It is great that together we have raised the funds to keep up with the natural pace of this development. The Barn is a great space - it has some skylights on the other side and can take solar panels on this side of the roof when we have the funds to invest in them.

Attendees at the BDLT and BDA meetings were astonished at the progress of transforming these 34 acres from bare land into a farm as they inspected the new garden, orchards, bees, chickens, cows and improved sward.

Regular volunteering opportunities have been established - see the website - chickens are laying, two cows are mostly hiding in the undergrowth and a local box scheme passed on their business to the Apricot Centre Team which is a fantastic vehicle for selling the beautiful white eggs and to continue to distribute other local produce.  The small apple trees are producing some fruit already.

Next steps for the infrastructure: electricity, water and telephone installations are all needed and then the training/processing center needs to be built. Onsite water harvesting is planned and an onsite dirty water treatment system as well so that clean water comes onsite and clean water leaves it!

We need to raise £65,000 to support this exciting further development and enable the farm to have the infrastructure it needs to be functional and viable.

If you have any ideas how we can increase our reach to interested people, do let us know (email, phone, facebook, chat ... ). Thanks. Every little helps and this is going to be a great farm with a lot to offer the local and wider communities.

The barn will now be developed to include a cool store, box packing space, tool and tractor area & probably a meeting space until the meeting/training/processing centre is completed.  The famous caravan featured in previous newsletters is expected to become a tea room for volunteers while the floor holds up!

'Population wheat' - a research development of the Organic Research Centre in which Marina is participating - will be planted in one of the arable fields at Huxhams Cross which will be a first for the South West as, so far, it has only been trialed in the South & East of the country. It is great to be part of sustainable futures research and seed development.
(photos below - Damson in her field but Daffodil was nowhere to be seen - possibly hiding from all the visitors on the farm walk!.)

Oakbrook Farm: 

Report from Josie Felce who organised the Harvest Celebration on 24th September 2016:
"It was a beautiful warm and sunny autumn day, so as people arrived, they walked the land, enjoyed wandering beside the brook, and picked blackberries.  The yurt and Bell tent were both set up, and we gathered in the Bell tent to share some thoughts of the land.  We sang and danced a Hawaiian song to honour the land, in the Yurt. Then we shared what we were grateful for, before enjoying hot soup and food people had brought.

These ideas emerged from the group:
Stroud is an “Apple Town" which seeks to sustain old varieties: an orchard could support this.  A path both functional and meditative from the town to Hawkwood could have relevant sculptures beside it, more stiles and several ways round to walk. This could have a space for people to connect with nature, providing environmental education and community activities such as marking the seasons, with ceremonies and festivals.  It was noted that there is the community woodland at Folly Woods, and to connect with them to see how people are using that resource.  A part of the stream made into a pond would encourage insects, amphibians and enriching water life forms.  The question, “Is this glow-worm friendly?” was asked."

We welcome all ideas and these will be discussed with the farmers and other stakeholders working on the land as to the feasibility and the impact on the land as a whole and how to progress to achieve the desired outcomes. It would be lovely if a Festivals Group could form to continue and develop this aspect of the community use of the land. Let us know if you are interested.
The business structure for Oakbrook Farm is evolving but not yet set up as a separate organisation.  Nevertheless, the Starter Farm and SCA have a short term lease agreement with BDLT and since the spring the first starter farmers, Clare Whitney and Sylvie Planel, have been busy cultivating the land and growing vegetables. The produce from the starter farm goes directly to Stroud Community Agriculture to complement their veg shares. With a successful season of growing at the starter farm, SCA is now keen to let you know they are looking for new members! To join or for more information, visit their website.

SCA store cattle have been growing and fattening on Oakbrook pastures this year bringing more life, fertility and a friendly presence to these fields.  In due course these animals will reintegrate onto other SCA land or go to the butchers.  We hope you enjoy the meat and appreciate what they have brought to the Oakbrook land.

The future micro-dairy will be getting organised on the land over the next few months and Kees Frederiks will bring his cows to Oakbrook in December.
While this is going on long-term leases are being put together so that they are fair and suit all parties.
We are continuing to organise volunteer opportunites for Oakbrook Farm - now on a regular basis.  A special email went out to Oakbrook supporters last month with some dates to help the Tree Group.  If you did not receive it and would like to be kept informed please email your details to our dedicated email address:  

We hope to expand on these regular work days and will also have some one-off events.  We will publish theses events on the website and Facebook page and by newsletter in advance when we can, but some opportunities may come up at short notice, so it will be great if we know who is or might be interested in and available for specific activities.  There are also opportunities for volunteering at a more organisational and structural level e.g. advice on project development or building planning. 

If you have not already let us know what you would like to be involved in Oakbrook Farm in one way or another please do so - again via - and we will put you on our developing volunteer database.

Your support is greatly appreciated!

Noltlands Farm, Westray, Orkney:

Delicious cheeses from Noltlands farm now on sale - look out for 'Westray Wife' cheese and yoghurt, especially if you live in or visit Orkney.

Brambletye Fields:

Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farming Co-op celebrated 20 years of community farming with an Open Day on Sunday 10th July:  
"A wonderful effervescent day, the Farm Open Day on July 10th took place this year at Tablehurst Farm and despite a rather wet and gray start attracted a large number of local community members. The sheep barn was so magically decorated it was transformed into a fairytale-land with billowing gossamer sheets, wool spinners, multi-coloured medicine herbs woven into wreaths, vivid wool skeins transformed into fairies and bumblebees... "

Read their latest news.

Rush Farm:

It has been a summer of ups and downs on the farm as one might expect with the particularly unpredictable weather we have had.  The summer fete was blessed with good weather and therefore lots of visitors.  The social life of the farm is always enriched by the presence of WWOOFers.

The bounty of the summer garden has been processed into jam and juice.

The weather let up sufficiently to allow the horn manure to be made and the filled horns to be safely buried to mature over the winter.
The geothermal installation has been a little disruptive with solar panels installed on the buildings of the business park to provide the electricity to work the pumps. The work was due to finish at the end of September but has not quite met the deadline.  There is good reason to expect the new deadline for the work of fitting heating to all units will be met next week. 

Seed Co-operative

David Price writes:
"Now ensconced at Gosberton Bank Nursery the pace is stepping up.  We now have a formal agreement with Camphill Village Trust which has enabled us to take on the sales and distribution activities of Stormy Hall Seeds.  Seed will still be grown at Stormy Hall in the summer, and hand processing will be undertaken over the winter months.  These are both activities that will involve community members with special needs that are supported at Botton Village.

Our first catalogue is based on the Stormy Hall Seed catalogue, and is OUT NOW.  This  can be downloaded from our web site where you can also visit our SEED SHOP and place orders on line.

Our Community Share Offer is in full swing and has been very warmly received, with a steady stream of applications coming in.  Many thanks to all of our supporters."

People can also DONATE through BDLT which is a great way to support both organisations with one donation and help protect the land, as the BDLT will buy shares in Gosberton Nursery with all donations for the Seed Co-operative thus helping to protect this land and venture into the future.


Volunteer work days at Oakbrook:
Sunday, 20th November
from 10am onwards

The 2017 Oxford Real Farming Conference will be held in the Oxford Town Hall on 4th & 5th January.  This may be of interest to those concerned with land and sustainable farming issues. (The Biodynamic Land Trust will have a stand.)

Access to Land; issues and concerns:

Access to Land -  A European network of grassroots organisations ( including Soil Association UK ) securing land for agroecological farming- latest newsletter.

BDLT director, Ella Hashemi, is now Restoration Manager at the Orchard project which restores orchards in our major cities and helps communities to protect and manage them, not to mention enjoying the local produce.  Watch their video here.  Sorry about the adverts in the video!
With banks currently giving such low interest it is amazing how little difference there is between investing at 0% in ethical and ecological land and infrastructure with the Biodynamic Land Trust projects and getting less that 1%, in most cases, from a bank.

Instead we offer the BENEFIT and satisfaction of knowing that our money is working for the present and future good of us all, for children, and for nature and for our beautiful planet Earth that supports us.

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

Thank you for your continuing support!

Together we are part of making the world a better place.

Great working with you.

Evelyn 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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