The Biodynamic Land Trust (BDLT) has just bought Brambletye Fields near Forest Row, East Sussex for putting into trust. This is the first farmland put into trust by the BDLT and it is now leased to the biodynamic Tablehurst Community Farm.
Tablehurst farmer Peter Brown, who is also the chair of the Biodynamic Association, said:
‘I see it as very important that Brambletye Fields are secured into the Biodynamic Land Trust and can no longer be bought or sold. These fields, directly adjoining others, which we farm, are a very important part of the Tablehurst Farm organism. They provide pasture, arable land and a wonderful diversity of streams, wetlands, hedges and trees.’
The aim of the BDLT, which is a charity, is to secure farmland in trust in perpetuity for affordable access to young farmers, for biodynamic agriculture, conservation and for community connected, family farming. The benefits include supporting family farming, preserving the countryside, conservation, supporting local food growing and helping entrant farmers and growers get access to affordable land. A key task of the BDLT is to offer existing biodynamic farmers and growers ways of preserving their farm for biodynamics.
Brambletye Fields is the first farmland in Britain to be put into trust by BDLT, which was founded in November 2011. This new land trust aims to increase biodynamic acreage for farmers, growers and communities. The £190,000 purchase price for the 37.74 acres was raised from forty members investing in withdrawable community shares, making loans and gifts, with the BDLT investing the rest.
The BDLT chose Brambletye Fields as their first land to put into trust because Tablehurst Community Farm is such an inspirational biodynamic farming model of good practice. The fields might otherwise have been sold on the open market and lost to Tablehurst. Tablehurst is unique-a 550-acre farm business owned by a community co-op. It produces award winning, biodynamic food sold locally to minimize food miles, offers open public access, trains young farmers, organizes community activities and cares for nature conservation.
Brambletye Fields have a story. They were bought in2002 by two Tablehurst and Plaw Hatch Community Farm Co-op members, to then lease to Tablehurst Farm. The farmland is in a beautiful setting close to Forest Row, nestling between the land to Weirwood Reservoir and the River Medway. The land went into organic and biodynamic conversion in January 2003. Hedges, scrapes and widened field margins were introduced, with the community planting the hedges. These features enhanced wildlife and biodiversity. Tablehurst has farmed the land for eight years, secured biodynamic certification, rebuilt the soil’s fertility, ensured sound fencing and improved the landscape. The former owners needed to sell Brambletye Fields, but wanted the land to continue in biodynamic stewardship through the sale to the BDLT.
Neil Ravenscroft, Chair Tablehurst Farm Ltd:
‘We very much welcome the Biodynamic Land Trust and its decision to purchase Brambletye Fields. These fields are very important to Tablehurst Farm, and to our community who have participated in improving them. But the real significance of the Trust’s decision is in securing the fields in perpetuity for biodynamic farming – which will be of enduring benefit to everyone’
Martin Large, BDLT director:
‘The forty members of the Biodynamic Land Trust are proud to support Tablehurst, one of Britain’s flagship biodynamic farms, by securing Brambletye Fields. Our forty members raised a magnificent total of £45,000 for this land purchase by investing in shares, with the rest coming from BDLT reserves. New members are invited to jointhe BDLT by investing in £100 worth of non-profit, returnable shares (and/or making a gift) for our next project, which is likely to be Rush Biodynamic Farm near Redditch. This will help the BDLT invest upto£150,000 to help secure this 190 acre organic and biodynamic farm.’