A sustainable organisation: after the excitements in the last quarter (our pitch in the Shark Tank and other adventures) we have been putting various aspects of the activities into a slower mode and tightening our budgets so as to be prudent and sustainable on known income. The last seven years has been all activity, getting land, getting basic developments and farm investments going and lots of fundraising, networking and organisation and skill development.
We now need to take stock in general while still supporting Oakbrook in its next steps, the other farms now have their basic infrastructure in place, and stewarding the land we own for the community. We need to review those initial experiences and learn all the lessons we can so that we can progress effectively and be an organisation able to react and support farms and communities when future needs arise.
Thanks to the forethought of early directors, and Martin Large in particular, we have a low level of regular income from rents and investments that allows us to keep the organisation running on fewer hours, but this does not support development nor enable paying off all the loans. Natasha Ramm on office and finance and I on leadership, projects, land enquiries, legals and communications are stewarding, reviewing and administering to the organisation with our great team of Directors.
Elisabeth Winkler: we have thanked Elisabeth for her year of great work for the Biodynamic Land Trust, as she left us in April as we have reduced budgets fordevelopment communications. She was a great asset, she got to grips with biodynamics, community shares and all the intricacies of land, rents and tenancies, finding ways to spread our message widely. She wrote some lovely articles for Smallholding Magazine, Star and Furrow, New View with myself, Permaculture Magazine with Marina O’Connell, and many more. She became an integral part of the team and we thank her for all she did for the Trust, the inspiration she was and is, and we hope to have further opportunities to work with her in the future.
Huxhams Cross Build Funding Appeal: We put out an appeal in early April for shares and donations to complete the funding package for the Huxhams Cross Apricot Centre build. We have a ‘matched funds’ donation offer from a supporter for £10,000. The appeal achieved £8,500 so we are still approx. £1,500 short. Any further share investments or donations will help us reach this important goal that unlocks the matched funds. And will help us complete the funding of the lovely eco-build Education and Wellbeing Centre at Huxhams Cross Farm.
Shares in Land and Farm Development available for both Huxhams Cross Farm and Oakbrook Farm. Do invest in sustainable community farms for now and the future.
Biodynamic Land Trust shares with the BDA: With there being less development work at the Trust for the moment, the BDA trustees asked me (Gabriel) if I could help manage the Biodynamic Association (BDA). I welcomed this and am now doing two days a week for the BDA on short term contract. This is a great opportunity for seeking more synergies between the two organisations, developing further ways of working together and supporting our shared and similar aims. One of these was making a shared presentation at the Anthroposophical Society AGM in London in May and putting in a shared grant application to carry out four case studies on Biodynamic Farm successes leading to a shared presentation at Oxford Real Farming conference in 2019 or 2020. (We have yet to hear the result of this application.)
Office move – another way of sharing resources. The Trust found its office was not being fully used so suggested a sharing with the BDA or Certification teams upstairs. This was welcomed and the Trust is now sharing with the BDA in the office that was the Certification office. We are settling in to our new space and new habits and enjoying the sharing and greater cooperation.
Directors and new directors. We are delighted to have another guest director, Stella Parkes, join the team of Rachel Harries, Chris Stockdale, Lucas Schoemaker, Ian Nicholson and myself, Gabriel Kaye. We would welcome one or two more directors; people with knowledge of any of the following; biodynamic farming, business development, land agent and property management skills, would be most welcome, also people with good life skills and clear would also be welcome. The process is one of contacting the Board with your offer of interest, next step is generally a six-month guest period to get to know the organisation, subject to a good match a candidate can then be co-opted and be up for election at the next AGM. Expectations are for four full day meetings a year, some email interaction in between, and some skill-specific support to the executive team.
AGM 2018 will be held on 29th September at 10 am at Huxhams Cross Farm, Dartington, Devon, in the newly built Apricot Centre. We will celebrate the completion of the build and the successes of the developing farm and wellbeing work with a talk and farm walk as well as have our official AGM meeting and a discussion on funding opportunities and further potential for sustainable income systems for the development of the Biodynamic Land Trust. Please save the date. We do hope you can come.