Andre Tranquillini’s biodynamic school garden at Hood Manor is a beacon. Rudolf Steiner, biodynamics and Steiner education founder, would have welcomed this practical, learning by doing approach that connects children with nature, for life.
Building on this, there is the exciting prospect of a newbiodynamic beacon farm neighbour to the School- just up the cyclepath to Totnes, on land between Huxham’s Cross and Week. Farm benefits will include apprenticeships, training courses and biodynamic food.
Marina O’Connell, lead farmer of the Apricot Centre team, aims to develop a productive, mixed small farm there. The depleted soils will be regenerated using biodynamic, permacultural and organic methods. Wildlife will be protected and the land transformed into a fertile educational market garden, orchard and family farm that is connected with the community. This will become a beacon biodynamic research, learning and demonstration farm – a beautiful, life giving oasis for families. Matt Harvey, the Totnes bard, says that, ‘If anyone can heal the Week land, it’s Marina.’
Many people, locally and nationally, welcome this Huxham’s/Week farm project as part of a historic shift from agro-industrial shift to agro-ecological, biodynamic farming. Nutritionist WendyCook:‘Marina O’Connell is a horticulturalist who knows the Dartington soil well and can make the Week land flourish again.’ ‘Go for it!’ say Colin Tudge, Campaign for Real Farming. ‘Our Schumacher College students will benefit greatly from the research and training opportunities which the new farm will offer.’ Martin Crawford, ‘Hugely relevant.’ ‘I’ll be delighted when Apricot gets going at Week farm.’ Chris Salisbury.
Marina O’Connell set up School Farm at Dartington in the 1980’s, described by local farmer Tom Petherick as, ‘a shining star in the Dartington firmament.’ She noted how children take to the land, love farm animals, growing vegetables, develop a taste for a wide range of food and enjoy nature. She then lectured in agriculture, whilst developing the Apricot Centre organic fruit farm in Essex, with well being and learning programmes for children.
She now wants to return to farm at Huxham’s if the charitable Biodynamic Land Trust can secure the 35 acres Week land from the Dartington Hall Trust for £326,000. The BDLT enables farmers to lease land without the crippling burden of debt. So the BDLT needs to raise £326,000 by October 15th 2014. £65,000 has been raised from 121 people since the 19 July launch, which is heartening. With £100,000 from the BDLT this makes £165,000- so we are around half way there.
You are invited to help by becoming a ‘co-trustee’ or ‘co-owner’ of the Week land. You can donate (gift aidable), invest from £100 to £20,000 in withdrawable BDLT community shares or invest in a ‘one acre share’ of £8,800. Investing means you become a full BDLT member. The BDLT is a charitable community benefit society, drawing on co-op values to mutualise land trusteeship. The BDLT will lease the Week land long term to Apricot.
This used to be called ‘barn raising’ for the common good.It’s happening all over as communities secure common resources for enterprise and community benefit. In 2006, 8,000 people invested £800,000 for Fordhall Farm in Shropshire. 62 families invested £500 each for our Stroud Co-op wood.
165 people investing £1,000 each, or 330 people investing £500, or people investing £8,800 in ‘acre shares’ for grandchildren can raise the remaining £161,000 needed!
This article was written by Martin Large, Executive Director of the BDLT, for the South Devon Steiner School newsletter.